This year’s managing board was disappointed to see uncontested elections for both president and vice president, especially after last year’s rigorous contest between five very different candidates. We are further disappointed that our fears about President Saloni Rao ’20’s plan to restructure the Yale College Council having a negative effect on inclusivity — as we outlined in our endorsement of her last year — appear to have been vindicated. But the members of our managing board are still pleased with the quality of the two candidates that students have before them for the YCC’s two top jobs. We thoroughly endorse Kahlil Greene ’21 for YCC president and Grace Kang ’21 for YCC vice president, both of whom are running on the same ticket.
Both candidates impressed us with their experience. As finance director, Greene instituted new accountability mechanisms in the wake of the Patagonia scandal, spent time working with every single YCC director alongside their respective teams and was instrumental in projects like the distribution of free menstrual products in residential colleges and student programming related to New Haven. Kang, a former staff reporter for the News, has served as both the First-Year Class Council President and the YCC’s Student Life Director, roles in which she planned the First-Year Olympics and advocated for the expansion of sexual assault resources.
Our largest disappointment with this ticket is that both Greene and Kang could not name one city hall official beside Mayor Toni Harp and Alderman Haci Catalbasoglu ’19 when asked in their interviews with the News, even though their plans for increased cooperation across the town-gown divide sit at the very top of their policy platform. Both should do better to familiarize themselves with the New Haven they claim to care so much about.
Still, both candidates are mostly realistic about their goals and will form an effective team together. While Greene plans on following Rao’s example of progress by achieving smaller, incremental goals, Kang says that she will focus on broader, policy based initiatives relating to bigger challenges like the quality of mental health care on campus or the student income contribution. Greene also intends to push for academic minors. Greene wants to work with the incoming director of Mental Health & Counseling at Yale Health, a person who will follow Lorraine Siggins’s 30-year tenure, on implementing new policies and programs for students. Kang, on the other hand, will work on policies related to the capital campaign, YCC elections and investment in New Haven.
Both candidates appear poised to usher in a new age of YCC cooperation with campus activists. For example, the YCC stayed silent after both the incident of racial profiling in the Hall of Graduate Studies last May and the posting of flyers for a “White Student Union” across campus bulletin boards this past November. Greene, in conjunction with the YCC Senate, told the News that he would have used the YCC’s platform to make a statement regarding both of these issues, and that he intends to use the publicity available to the YCC to address more issues important to campus activists. But Greene maintains that he doesn’t want to fall into the trap of only throwing hollow statements at important problems — we commend him for meeting with the head of the Coalition for Ethnic Studies yesterday, and hope that he continues listening to and working with activists in a constructive manner.
The YCC presidency and vice presidency are difficult offices to fill. This year, it is made even more difficult by the fact that Rao and Vice President Heidi Dong ’20 have, beyond their failure to set up competitive YCC elections, done an effective job during their tenures. But Greene and Kang have the experience, partnership and enthusiasm to ensure that student voices continue to be heard, policies continue to be reformed and that the YCC and Yale continue to be improved.
Editor’s Note: Members of the managing board with personal ties to candidates in the race recused themselves from the writing of these endorsements.
Clarification, Apr. 10: Due to an editing error, the original version of this editorial did not note that Grace Kang ’21 is a former staff reporter for the News. The editorial has been updated to include that fact.