This year’s Yale College Council fall elections have had a record 110 candidates — 99 of whom are first years — register to run for leadership positions in their classes and residential colleges, an abrupt surge in interest after last spring’s YCC elections saw just one major contested race.
In contrast to the spring, every race this year began contested before some candidates withdrew. Students in the two new residential colleges, Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin, demonstrated the most interest in running for council positions, with a total of 14 candidates across both colleges. However, the most competitive race is in Timothy Dwight College’s First-Year Class Council, in which nine students have registered to bid for only two seats to represent TD on the FCC.
YCC Vice President Nicholas Girard ’19 attributed the greater competition to the council’s outreach efforts. “We had a big conversation because spring turnout was … not the best,” Girard said. “First years are recognizing that we are trying to be different from YCC in the past. We are incredibly proud to see a tremendous interest in YCC’s work and mission.”
First years and sophomores continue to dominate the registrations for representing their colleges on the YCC, as in previous years. In addition, one junior and one senior registered to run in the elections this fall. However, the senior, Nicolas Harris ’18, chose however to withdraw after realizing he would not have the time to best serve YCC “to the best of my ability” this academic year.
“My motivation was really just to represent the students of my college as best as possible,” Harris said. “I’ve been a part of the Yale community for over three years, and I felt that my experience could bring value to the [YCC].”
YCC President Matt Guido ’19 said the last election cycle has driven the council to more tangibly demonstrate its commitment to the student body. He added that the YCC’s support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the Paris Climate Accords, as well as its first-year handbook project, have had visible impacts on the community. YCC will ride the momentum brought by this high-turnout election cycle, Guido said.
Girard added that one reason for the increased involvement among first years, especially in the new colleges, stems from the context of the elections: the additional colleges mean the campus is at a “significant moment” in Yale’s history. Girard said that first years recognize that there are many potential changes to be made at Yale this year.
“The amount of candidates in the new colleges demonstrates that they are seeing YCC as a way to enact change and drive events for their colleges,” Girard said.
However, candidate Spencer Hagaman ’21 of Benjamin Franklin College offered different reasons for his decision to run. He said that while he acknowledged the unique chance to represent a new residential college, he ran for student government because he enjoys working with and for students to improve campus life.
Still, Hagaman said the council’s excitement and campus activism pushed him to submit his YCC application last weekend.
“Being in Ben Franklin, being in a new college … is a cherry on top,” Hagaman said. “I think if I was in Berkeley or Branford or any of the other  older colleges, I would still be interested in running.”
The YCC also has task force, team and committee member positions, including spring fling committee membership, that are open to applications. However, this year, a YCC constitutional amendment changed the sophomore college council and junior college council positions to be available by application only.
Guido cited the high barrier to running for an office in junior year, as well as the low interest in the positions in recent elections, as reasons for the constitutional change.
YCC elections close on YaleConnect at 8 p.m. Friday.
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