After meeting with both candidates running for the Yale College Council events director positions, the News cannot endorse either Steven Orientale ’21 or Chloe Adda ’22 for the job. Both candidates possess glaring flaws that we believe will either undermine the future of the YCC events team or the relationship between the YCC events team and the rest of the student community.
Though Orientale has some specific proposals for what his tenure as events director would look like — such as bringing New Haven artists and comedians onto campus for performances — he has no actual experience on the YCC’s Events or Spring Fling Committees. As the YCC senator representing Jonathan Edwards College, Orientale worked on policy-based initiatives like the development of academic minors for Yale College students and the Lunch with Faculty program, but nothing based around events. He maintains that he has experience planning events for the JE College Council as its vice president. When asked, however, what events at Yale he has played a part in, he pointed to the YCC hoedown at Box 63 and the Yale-Harvard tailgate, rather than JE events. Regardless, these events were primarily run by the YCC Events Committee, which Orientale has never been a member of.
Orientale’s lack of experience on the YCC’s Events or Spring Fling Committee showed at this year’s YCC electoral debate. As part of a larger argument about why the events director should focus on bringing multiple artists to Spring Fling instead of one headliner, Orientale said that most of the Spring Fling budget is spent on performers. Adda, a YCC events deputy director, countered that most of the budget is, in fact, spent on Yale labor to set up the concert and other logistical expenses. Outgoing YCC Events Director Caleigh Propes ‘20 confirmed to the News that Adda was correct. At the News, we believe that a potential events director who is ready for the position should at least have an accurate understanding of how a Spring Fling budget of almost $300,000 is spent each year.
After spending a year working on the YCC Events Committee, Adda displayed a confident, rigorous knowledge of what the events director job entails in her interview with the News. But Adda also gave the News grave concerns about how much power she thinks the events director should have in spending the vast budget — chiefly funded by the student activities fee paid by undergraduate students — that she would have access to next year. Whereas Orientale called for greater collaboration between the YCC-at-large and the YCC Events and Spring Fling Committees, Adda told the News that in her ideal world, the YCC Events and Spring Fling teams would end their relationship with the rest of the YCC.
Adda also specifically said that she wants to end the YCC Senate’s approval power over the YCC Events and Spring Fling Committee’s spending decisions. And though she recognized the importance of student surveys about Spring Fling artists, she showed far less creativity in her approach to student input. Orientale outlined plans to increase the total number of surveys sent out about Spring Fling and events, publicize feedback forms from events to give the public updates on their popularity and institute a virtual suggestion box. Adda emphasized how she would rely heavily on data collected by the one-time annual Spring Fling survey — a survey that often fails to accurately gauge student interests — and create a similar general survey for what events YCC should host each year.
It was just one year ago that the YCC events director used external funds from the student activities fee to purchase Patagonia sweaters for the 13 members of the events committee, leading then- YCC President Matt Guido ’19 to call on the events committee to reimburse the YCC for the purchased sweaters and apologize for what he called an “oversight.” It is far too soon to grant the events director more autonomy to make their own spending decisions without any outside consideration. The YCC Senate, as elected by our undergraduate community, has approval power over events spending for a reason: to make sure that the Events and Spring Fling Committees are ultimately beholden to student voices and not to the committees’ personal inclinations. Adda would move the events committee in the latter direction.
Students should also note that a vote for Adda is not just a vote for Adda. Although YCC rules do not permit Adda to coordinate her campaign for events director with another candidate, she has publicized her intention to, if victorious in the election, cleave the events director position into two separate jobs and appoint Nicole Zhen ’22 as co-director. Adda maintains that the job of events director is a 40-hour work commitment and deserves to be broken down into two more manageable time commitments. But even if Adda’s approximation of the work commitment is true, why should we trust her to unilaterally create a co-director position rather than seek the advice and consent of the Senate for such a major decision?
Either our next YCC events director will bring a lack of experience to the job or the willpower to make the Events and Spring Fling Committees less publicly accountable. Both propositions make our editorial board equally nervous — pick your poison.
Editor’s Note: Members of the managing board with personal ties to candidates in the race recused themselves from the writing of these endorsements.