We at the News are deeply concerned by the low number of candidates running in this year’s Yale College Council election. Only two students are vying for the position of president. The vice presidency and events directorship are uncontested races.
We also have questions for our readers. How many Yale students can name a substantial policy change the YCC has recently accomplished? Would you go to the YCC if you had an idea intended to make change at Yale? If so, would you even know where to go? And, most strikingly, how many women have led the YCC in the past 16 years? To that, we do have an answer: just one.
The YCC has slipped into irrelevance, and few students seem to think leading it is worth their time. Many perceive the YCC to be an organization that does little more than campaign, form task forces and distribute surveys. This lack of visible impact and broader engagement reflects deep structural problems with our student government.
We do not mean to deny credit where credit is due. Recently, the YCC’s persistent advocacy helped secure gender-neutral housing and a pilot sophomore seminar program, among other initiatives. The YCC’s many surveys provide the administration a window into the student body’s needs. We acknowledge these efforts, but remain concerned by a lack of impact, action and legitimacy.
This is not to say that Yale students are not engaged with the Yale and New Haven communities. In the past year, hundreds of students initiated historic conversations about discrimination and inclusivity on campus and successfully pushed for even more historic changes, including the renaming of Calhoun College. Yale students are also starting businesses, directing symphonies and winning athletic competitions. These pursuits fill our pages every day, while the YCC has taken a back seat.
In a time when our nation is led by a president supported by less than 5 percent of Yale students, we are disappointed that the YCC is not a more central training ground for aspiring public servants. At many universities, student government serves as the main engine of student-led change. At Yale, our centralized body for civic engagement has atrophied into lukewarm inaction.
In the midst of conversations about gender inclusivity at Yale and in the wake of the global Women’s March, we’re also struck by the lack of gender diversity at the top of the YCC. Over the past nine years, we’ve elected nine male student body presidents. Is this what our Yale looks like, and is this how we empower our next generation of leaders?
“Unfortunately, this is the result of institutionalized sexism,” Adam Michalowski ’19, a candidate for YCC president, told the News. “I wish that more people were vying for these YCC seats, including mine.”
With these concerns in mind, we at the News suggest that the YCC extend the deadline for candidates to enter races for elected positions. We strongly encourage all members of the Yale community to consider running. If more cast their hats into the ring, all the better.
To those campaigning, we pose a challenge. Rather than expend space in your platforms on empty promises to remedy institutional issues over which the YCC lacks influence, such as faculty diversity and Yale Corporation transparency, start by tackling a more foundational question: How will you, as the leader of the YCC, make our student government matter?
Members of the Managing Board of 2018 who are currently affiliated with the YCC recused themselves from the conception and execution of this editorial.