Matt Guido ’19 will be the next Yale College Council president after receiving 897 votes, or 73 percent of the total, in last week’s election. Voting for YCC president, as well as other elected positions on the council, closed on Friday evening.
The number of students who voted in the YCC president fell by more than half over last year. Only 22.3 percent of undergraduates voted, compared to 48.3 percent in 2016. Additionally, only one student who was not affiliated with any student organization involved with the YCC election attended a Tuesday-evening debate between the two presidential candidates in Linsly-Chittenden Hall.
Outgoing YCC President Peter Huang ’18 and Vice President Christopher Bowman ’18 attributed the low turnout to the high number of uncontested races this year.
“I’m not sure that anyone expected higher voter participation than we had,” Bowman said. “It’s unfortunate, but that’s what happens when only two races out of 15 are contested. The rates that we saw have more to do with the lack of candidates mobilizing the student body than any sort of opinions on YCC as an organization.”
Julia Tobin ’19 will be Junior Class Council president for the coming year, defeating two opponents in the most competitive election of this cycle. Yesenia Chavez ’20 was elected Sophomore Class Council president, and Nick Girard ’19 and Tyler Bleuel ’19 will be YCC vice president and events director respectively after running uncontested for both positions.
Races for positions on the YCC’s Council of Representatives were also noncompetitive this year, with only one contested election out of the 12 colleges. Overall, not enough students ran to fill all of the positions on the Council of Representatives, which is composed of two students from each residential college. Five residential colleges will enter the 2017-18 academic year with only one representative.
The new representatives of the residential colleges are Mohammed Hussari ’20 and Azaria King ’20 from Berkeley College; Trey Kinison ’20 from Branford College; Sal Rao ’20 from Davenport College; Thomas Atlee ’20, a YTV staffer for the News, and Lorna Chitty ’20 from Ezra Stiles College; Kiran Chokshi ’20 and Paul Gross ’20 from Grace Hopper College; Sophie Gottfried ’20 and Shawn Luciani ’20 from Jonathan Edwards College; Heidi Dong ’20 and Shunhe Wang ’20 from Morse College; Aadit Vyas ’20 from Pierson College; Brett Gu ’19 and Gabriel Perez ’20 from Saybrook College; David Glaess ’19 from Silliman College; Daniel Vernick ’19 from Timothy Dwight College; and Kat Berman ’20 and Benito Flores ’20 from Trumbull College.
The single contested race was for Saybrook College. Perez received 68 votes, and Gu received 44 votes to beat the third contender.
In an interview with the News, George Iskander ’20 expressed enthusiasm about Guido’s victory. However, he also said he was disappointed with the low turnout because student engagement with the University is vital at this point in Yale’s history. Iskander said last year’s turnout may have been higher because of campus discussions about race and inequality that led to widespread protests in the fall.
“Right now, I think the biggest battle people are fighting is against the student income contribution, but that’s not comparable to how controversial things were last year, so the turnout wasn’t as great,” Iskander said.
Iskander said there is not much that the council can do to increase voter turnout other than extending the deadline to vote.
Maya Rodriguez ’19 did not specify which candidates she supported, but she said that she believes Guido and Tobin are “exceptional people” and suited for the job. However, Rodriguez also expressed disappointment over the low voter turnout. She said the YCC does work that affects the lives of most undergraduate students and said it was troubling that few students voted.
Huang said that in order to increase the number of students running for YCC office, the council has been encouraging students from all parts of campus to run for the YCC. Voter participation was higher last year because there were five presidential candidates and all of the candidates were associated and familiar with different student groups, Huang said.
Guido said he noticed the lower turnout but was not surprised by it. He added that he and Girard, the incoming vice president, will discuss this week how to improve turnout and student engagement with the council.
The transition between the current and incoming councils will begin soon and continue through the end of the academic year. Huang said he will meet with Guido one-on-one to discuss “what has worked and what has not worked” in the council over the past year.
Huang added that he, Bowman and YCC Chief of Staff Sydney Wade ’18 will meet with Guido and Girard to discuss the structure of the council and the division of responsibilities. Additionally, Bowman, Wade and Huang will set up meetings between administrators and the incoming president and vice president.
“Every year, the YCC president of the past year is readily available for questions from the YCC president of the following year,” Huang said. “Next year, I will make myself accessible to Matt so that he can get timely answers about any concerns or challenges that he encounters.”
Over the next few weeks, Guido said, the YCC will solicit applications from the student body for the executive board, which is composed of unelected positions with a range of specific responsibilities. Each incoming executive board member will also meet with outgoing members and have discussions over the next month as the council transitions leadership.
Bowman said his main goal will be to help Girard fully understand the status of policy issues the YCC tackled over the last two semesters.
“Peter and I don’t want any of these important, sometimes multiyear initiatives to fall by the wayside, so the next administration will be key to seeing them to fruition,” Bowman said.
This post was updated to reflect the version that ran in print on April 17.