Azaria King ’20, a candidate for Yale College Council President, wants to make student government at Yale more diverse. If elected, she would be the first female president of YCC in nine years.
King, who currently serves as YCC’s student outreach coordinator, told the News she joined YCC last spring because she noticed that there were no other black women on the executive board. She emphasized the importance of having “representatives who look like you” and said that, as president, she would combat YCC’s diversity problem by increasing outreach to students and creating a newsletter that highlights the work of various student organizations and provides updates on YCC projects.
“I’m running for president to basically be able to create real change at Yale and not really lip service,” King said. “Yale should be a better place for the people that come after us.”
King’s opponents in the race for president are Christopher Moeckel ’20, Aadit Vyas ’20, Shunhe Wang ’20 and Saloni Rao ’20.
In addition to increasing diversity, King said, she plans on starting YCC field trips to local nonprofit organizations so that the council, as well as any interested Yale students, can become more connected with New Haven. The aim of the field trips would be to foster relationships between Yalies and nonprofits, so that students do not just volunteer once and never return, but rather build meaningful, long-term connections with local organizations.
King’s other objectives for campus reform include increasing staff diversity at Yale Mental Health and Counseling and improving financial aid policies to benefit low-income students. She said several peers in the Black Women’s Coalition have voiced concerns to her about the impact of the lack of diversity in Yale Health’s mental health department, and, if elected, she would work with Yale Health and other student organizations to address this issue.
While King acknowledged that eliminating the student income contribution would probably be unfeasible, she said she would collaborate with activist groups like Students Unite Now, as well as administrators, to absorb the cost of the SIC into general tuition so that low-income students do not have to pay it out of pocket.
As student outreach coordinator this year, King served as a liaison between YCC and cultural centers, student athletes, the Office of LGBTQ Resources and the general student body. King said she organized roughly 10 focus groups this year to advise various YCC policy projects, and, in the fall, also organized the Dwight Hall–YCC New Haven Fair, which showcases volunteer opportunities at New Haven nonprofits and businesses.
King pointed to her leadership experience in several student organizations and her perspective as a first-generation, low-income student as qualifications that would help her serve as YCC president. A political science and computer science double major, she served as secretary for the Berkeley College Council for two semesters. Last spring, she was elected as YCC Berkeley College representative before deciding to run for an executive board position.
As social events chair for Black Student Alliance at Yale, King said she helped plan the group’s 50th anniversary conference and the annual Yale-Harvard talent show. King is also social media coordinator for DOWN Magazine.
Jason Hu ’19, who served on the Berkeley College Council alongside King, called the presidential hopeful a confident and compassionate leader. Hu said King exhibited passion for Berkeley at community events and intramurals, and that she “was ready to do whatever was needed from her, be it cleaning up after an event or tabling.”
“When she became secretary, I saw her take on a greater role pitching new ideas and suggestions to streamline events,” Hu said. “She knows what she wants and she conveys it in clear ways. This clarity is essential for a YCC president, who should not mince their words.”
While Hu declined to comment on whether King is the most qualified choice for YCC President, since he does not know all of the other candidates, he said is confident in King’s ability to change how YCC represents the student body and to be a “fresh voice” on the council.
Arturo Pineda ’19, editor-in-chief of DOWN Magazine, said King has an innovative and collaborative work ethic, as well as a rare ability to follow through on her ideas with practical plans.
“You learn a lot through people’s writing,” Pineda said. “I’ve learned Azaria does not take diversity for granted and understands that there should be accountability in representation at any level.”
Alice Park | email@example.com