These past couple of days of campaigning have been filled with exciting conversations. I’ve spoken with Yalies in classes and in cultural centers. I’ve spoken with Yalies at student group meetings and at performances. I’ve spoken with Yalies on street corners and over coffee. I’ve heard so many brilliant ideas about making Yale a better place from so many passionate Yalies. Through these conversations and chats, I asked myself: How can we better use these ideas?
I have been proud to be part of the Yale College Council ever since I got to campus. In the past two years, I have served as an associate representative, as academics director on the YCC executive board and as the chair of the recent YCC sexual climate working group. I have worked on and directed policy projects, piloted programs and advocated for change with the Yale administration. The YCC has, especially in the past year, gotten many things done: the Domestic Summer Award, American Sign Language, the First-Year Handbook, Menstrual Hygiene Programs and Credit/D/Fail reform. But while these reforms were valuable, I know that more can and ought to be done.
I’m running for YCC President because I believe that we can and must improve our YCC. It is our obligation to future Yalies to do so.
In my past two years on council, I’ve seen the YCC function well as an independent policymaking and policy-advocacy body. But the YCC has not functioned as a voice of the students. The YCC doesn’t reflect the diversity of students it aims to advocate for. The YCC is not a representative of the Yalies it serves.
The YCC must be improved by revolutionary changes to its structure. My plans for internal YCC reform will, I hope, do just that. I’m proposing a new YCC that would include two student bodies. The first body, the senate, would function as a policymaking and policy-advocacy body, much as the YCC does right now. The second body, the council, would bring together representatives from most student groups on campus, including cultural houses, service organizations, residential college councils, YCC subsidiary bodies and committees and graduate student government. The council would bring together students and student organizations that are representative of all voices on campus and would be a place to discuss relevant campus issues, voice student concerns and hear student ideas. With this comprehensive change, the YCC would become a force of cohesion and unity. The YCC would better represent the diversity of the student body. The YCC would gain the leverage and power to hold administrators accountable and to better advocate for change. It would bring all Yalies together on one connected campus.
Using my running mate Heidi Dong’s ’20 experience as University services director on the executive board and chair of the YCC mental health working group, as well as my own experience, we have worked with dozens of student group leaders to craft a visionary but practical plan, not simply a platform, for what we aim to accomplish in the upcoming year. While the issues that we aim to tackle — sexual and social climate, mental health and wellness and University policy — are tough, we believe that we have the experience to know what is possible and how to get things done. Just because change is difficult, it does not mean that we should give up on it altogether.
I believe in a future YCC that is a true voice of the entire student body and works effectively with the Yale administration on behalf of each and every student. I believe in one connected campus, and I believe in a better Yale experience.
I’m running for this position because I believe that the YCC has the ability to grow into a more diverse, representative, powerful and effective organization. Most importantly, I believe we can use these changes to get more things done and make Yale a better place, both for us and for future students.
Saloni Rao is a sophomore in Davenport College and a YCC presidential candidate. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.