The Yale College Council in February used money intended to fund campus activities to pay for Patagonia sweaters with the YCC label for all 13 members of its events committee.
A day after the News contacted YCC President Matt Guido ’19 on April 8 to inquire about the purchase, Guido sent an email to the YCC members who received Patagonias asking that they reimburse the organization for the sweaters, which the members had thought they would receive for free. For members unable to pay for the sweaters in full, the YCC will “work something out,” Guido wrote in the email. On Wednesday, Guido told the News that the purchase “was an oversight on our end.”
According to Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Hannah Peck, the funds YCC stewards come from the student activity fees — a $125 annual fee that undergraduates pay as part of their tuition, unless they opt out.
“We are very sorry for the miscommunication within the YCC Executive Board regarding this purchase and the use of Events SAF funds,” Guido wrote in his email to YCC members. “We have implemented new regulatory measures to ensure that this situation does not arise again. However, it is important that we, as individuals with great discretion over student-sourced money, hold ourselves and our spending to the highest standard.”
Though Guido said the money used to fund the Patagonias came from the student activities fund, YCC Events Committee Director Tyler Bleuel ’19, who organized the purchase of the Patagonias, said the sweaters were financed by a grant from the Dean’s Office for the Yale-Harvard Game campuswide party at Commons, which the events committee organized in November. The Yale-Harvard Game grant last year was $10,000 and covered food and security for the event, Peck said.
Bleuel said the total cost of the sweaters amounted to just one ninth of the money his committee had saved after the Yale-Harvard party. The committee increased participation at the Yale-Harvard party by 40 percent while cutting costs by 60 percent, from $24,000 to $8,000, according to Bleuel.
The sweaters served as both a delayed compensation and an incentive for the members to “stay on an already small committee,” Bleuel said.
“Bloody and blistered, we filled in enough labor to the production company that they discounted our invoice by almost to the dollar the cost of the sweaters,” he said. “We were in commons from 2 p.m. and left around 5 a.m. only to be working at the tailgate by 8 a.m. This work was far beyond what can be expected of normal committee work, and it would be wrong not to compensate this in any way.”
Bleuel, one of five people whose names were signed at the end of Guido’s email, told the News on Thursday that he did not know Guido planned to send the email to YCC members until he received it himself.
“I was surprised to receive the email demanding the funds be paid back, and especially when the draft was never shown to me,” Bleuel said. “I wasn’t told when it was being sent or was asked for consent to have my name signed.”
Caleigh Propes ’20, an events committee member who was elected the YCC’s next events director in this month’s election, called the email “a shock and a punch to the gut.”
Addison Jakubowicz ’20, a member of the committee who received a Patagonia sweater, said she is willing to pay for the sweater because she did not come into the position expecting any reward for her time and effort.
“While I am not exactly happy about the current situation, I believe this will strengthen the organization as a whole as we reflect on our mission and how to best provide for the student body,” Jakubowicz said.
Saloni Rao ’20, YCC president-elect, told the News that she only found out about the Patagonia incident on Wednesday night. She added that much of the confusion surrounding the incident stemmed from a lack of accounting over where money for each item on the budget comes from.
“It’s a testament to the fact that the lines of communication need to be more robust between different subsidiary bodies of the YCC,” Rao said. “There needs to be a conscious effort to increase the transparency of YCC’s internal and external funds.”
Students interviewed by the News were not happy with YCC’s purchase.
“Students place their trust in the YCC to spend our money honestly and to our benefit,” said Christopher Moeckel ’20, a defeated presidential candidate in this year’s YCC election. “If the YCC used money from the student activity fees to pay for personalized Patagonias, the involved parties should immediately resign and the Yale’s Dean’s Office should launch an investigation into the incident.”
Anusha Manglik ’21 said YCC should not have spent the money on sweaters because Yale has a tight budget and a lot of student groups don’t get the amount of the funding that they need. And Nikki Watters ’21 said the members should pay for the sweaters themselves.
“If it’s coming from an activity fund, and that’s not really an activity, then they should have to pay. Because those funds should be going to serious activities, activities that can make the school a better place,” Watters said.
About half of all the money the University receives from student activity fees goes to the YCC. For the current academic year, that figure was $309,000.
Jingyi Cui | firstname.lastname@example.org