Matt Guido ’19 is no stranger to student government at Yale — but that does not mean he believes it is perfect. Guido, who has served as president of the Freshman College Council, director of the Yale College Council Undergraduate Organizations Committee and a member of the YCC Events Committee, is running for YCC president in part to change the internal structure of the YCC.
“I think we call ourselves an advocacy body but I really think we aren’t yet, and a lot of students don’t see us that way,” Guido said. “An internal restructuring and rebranding of who we are as an organization would be really powerful.”
Guido, a Berkeley College student originally from Oradell, New Jersey, acknowledged the recent student criticisms of the YCC’s low student engagement, and added that the sparse field of candidates for YCC president is evidence enough that there needs to be a serious institutional reform within the council. Noting that the YCC’s access to the University administration is one of its greatest strengths, Guido said he hopes to channel that power into a far more effective and efficient means as president.
Larry Fulton ’19, a close friend of Guido’s, who served on FCC with him, said that augmenting the YCC’s status on campus requires someone with Guido’s level of experience to mobilize the entire student council.
“All of the candidates are going to talk about why they want to make the YCC more relevant,” Fulton said. “A leader’s agenda is very important, but the people who want to work with that leader are also very important.”
One of Guido’s stated policies is to provide stronger support for student athletes, whose voices Guido said are often neglected at Yale. By advocating for the extension of dining hall hours as well as office hours, Guido said he hopes to ensure that student-athletes are able to take full advantage of their meal plans during their intensive game and training schedules.
Guido also looked to increase the diversity of Yale’s sexual misconduct committee and provide more resources to nonfemale victims of sexual assault. Other initiatives on Guido’s platform include bimonthly updates on the progress of the University’s $50 million plan to improve faculty diversity and a plan to refund tuition expenses to students who take a medical leave. Additionally, Guido said he hopes to introduce a new system of YCC governance that would streamline council meetings by prioritizing student discussion over PowerPoint presentations and clearly lay out goals each semester. He noted, for example, that consolidating financial aid resources would be a short-term goal of his administration, whereas eliminating the student income contribution would be a long-term goal.
Turning the YCC into a proactive, not reactive, organization will be part of that mission, Guido added. Becoming the person in the room unafraid to stand up to an administrator or group clashing with the student body’s interests is especially important to his vision as a candidate.
“The greatest challenge for a YCC president is maintaining a capacity to engage and include students as well as the capacity to challenge and persuade administrators,” said Joshua Hochman ’18, who served as academics director on the YCC’s 2015–16 executive board. “Matt is particularly equipped to do both of those things.”
Hochman noted that Guido, as head of the Undergraduate Organization Committee this year, pushed for grants on community service-related projects by directly speaking to both Assistant Dean and Director of Student Affairs Hannah Peck and the Standing Committee for Student Organizations. Although most advocacy generally takes two years to come to fruition, Hochman said, Guido’s efforts will likely lead to this initiative being adopted by next year.
Duane Bean ’17 — who works with Guido at the Yale chapter of Camp Kesem, a national program that offers recreational camps to children affected by a parent’s cancer — said that Guido has been a reliable and helpful member of the organization. Bean added that Guido, who goes by the name “Koala” to both the children and fellow counselors, “is just the sort of person that approaches things with a calm and collected attitude” and offers needed ideas.
“He is an engaging leader, a warm friend and a deep thinker,” Hochman said.