Four students have announced their candidacy for the three elected leadership positions on the Yale College Council, raising concerns among some YCC members about the council’s engagement with the undergraduate body.
The YCC confirmed Thursday evening that two candidates, Matt Guido ’19 and Adam Michalowski ’19, are running for YCC president, and the candidates for the positions of vice president and events director will be running uncontested.
These figures are a dramatic change from last year’s YCC elections in which five students — three men and two women — ran for the presidency, and four for the vice presidency. This spring’s ballot will include the names of only four men, which has led some members to criticize the council’s dearth of female leadership. The governing body last had a female president in 2007–08.
“Unfortunately, this is the result of institutionalized sexism,” Michalowski said. “I wish that more people were vying for these YCC seats, including mine.”
On Friday, Nick Girard ’19 announced his candidacy for vice president and Tyler Bleuel ’19 announced his for events director. The YCC 2015–16 executive board voted last year to turn the previously-elected position of YCC finance director into an appointed role.
“Some people say YCC is not a representative body, and I don’t endorse nor combat that statement,” said Christopher Bowman ’18, current YCC vice president. “But I do say that in order to become a more representative body, we need to have more students who get involved with the organization.”
Bowman said that any disengagement with students is due to a common misconception that the YCC is an organization that “sits around” and struggles to make substantive change. Due to the slow-moving nature of the Yale administration, many of the YCC’s initiatives, like a peer advising program and reforms to Credit/D/Fail policy, are long-term projects which students should not expect to happen overnight, he said.
Girard told the News that Yale’s vibrant student activist community often leaves the YCC fighting for influence over changes in campus issues. Last year, he noted, around half of all residential college representatives as well as two executive positions went uncontested.
Bowman said he believes potential candidates may be apprehensive about running for a position on the executive board because of the intense public scrutiny they undergo during elections. He cited the endorsements which the News traditionally makes each year.
Still, the high number of candidates in the field last year may have been an anomaly, said Michalowski.
According to Michalowski, the YCC executive board put a higher emphasis last year on cultivating personal relationships, while this year the YCC’s leadership style was less personal, which may have led to less engagement among members.
Bowman said he was disappointed by the low turnout, adding that the YCC has made efforts to increase the council’s diversity and make the group more inclusive, and welcomed students to continue to engage with University administrators both directly and through the YCC.
He said that he viewed this year’s lack of female candidates as indicative of a national trend that fails to give women the “space” to speak freely and run for office.
“We can’t become as representative a body as possible until we have all students across the University represented in these races,” Bowman said.
Still, former YCC president Michael Herbert ’16 attributed the lack of involvement to issues endemic to the YCC’s structure. Herbert said that compared to larger schools, Yale’s student council is not organized to wield as much power and influence over campus matters.
The current YCC council is 38 percent female and 62 percent male.
Correction, April 7: The previous version of this story misidentified the YCC board as 38 percent female and 62 percent male when in fact it is the council with that gender breakdown.