Why the YCC matters

I write in response to last week’s News’ View: “Does the YCC matter?” (April 7, 2016). In my capacity as dean of Yale College, I answer with an enthusiastic “Yes!” When I think about the scope of my job and the expectations that accompany it, I find it hard to imagine being able to navigate my work without having ready and consistent access to undergraduate opinion and expertise.

Since I became the dean I have met with the Yale College Council president and vice president on a monthly basis. Given that I was tasked with structuring and developing the undergraduate experience for close to 6,000 students, it was obvious to me that I needed to have a means to understand what Yale College students were thinking.

In my three years as dean, I have benefitted enormously from YCC leaders’ abiding commitments to represent the student body and to liaise proactively with the administration. Working with these YCC leaders has helped me navigate issues critical to students. The YCC reports and advice made a positive difference when it came to reforming University policy on issues like housing, grade reporting and mental health and counseling.

Admittedly, change often comes slowly and its incrementalism can make it seem that the YCC is irrelevant. Also, it is clear that more Yale students from a broader swath of the Yale community need to engage the YCC, if only to change its agenda and voice. If students don’t engage, however, those kinds of changes simply aren’t going to happen.

As I head out the door, I will be telling my successor to believe in the YCC, its hard work and even its untapped potential. I can only hope that succeeding generations of Yale students will join the YCC and make it the fully representative body that it can be.

Jonathan Holloway is the dean of Yale College. Contact him at jonathan.holloway@yale.edu .