Although the fall semester has just begun, Yale College Council has already started planning new projects for the campus and executing internal reforms.
YCC President Kahlil Greene ’21 said that most of YCC’s preparation happens during the summer, including strategization and research. He added that YCC has four primary initiatives for the upcoming year, including an organizational restructuring, publicity, affinity networks and recruitment.
As part of the organizational restructuring, the YCC will now comprise four distinct branches — a policy branch led by the vice president, an events branch led by the events director, a student services branch led by the president and an operations branch, also led by the president. Greene told the News that in the past, there has been an “inexplicit dichotomy” between the policy and events sides of the YCC, something he hopes this change will address.
“I want to recrystallize the YCC’s mission to three main goals,” Greene said. “So that’s to advocate for policy change a la policy branch, throw student events a la events branch, and provide grassroots students services [for the] student services branch, and the operations branch is kind of the catch all to help them operate better.”
Last year’s YCC president, Saloni Rao ’20, also restructured the YCC by creating a council of representatives composed of student leaders of various campus organizations. But Greene said that this initiative will not continue this year, citing a decline in attendance at later meetings. He added that he hopes to find other ways to bring together student leaders, such as digital forms of outreach and a town hall.
Greene said that increased publicity is another important initiative for the YCC, adding that many media outlets had reached out to him over the summer to report on Greene becoming the first black YCC president. He said that he wants to use this publicity to “advocate for others,” especially to publicize policy projects that receive less attention.
“Of course there’s the 15 minutes of fame, the sensational news of the first black president, but some of [the media outlets] seemed to have an actual interest on what happens on campus during the school year,” Greene said.
Additionally, Greene said that the YCC is focused on recruitment, especially among first years, for the upcoming year. He mentioned that he is the first YCC president to present at the Welcome to New Haven event for first years at Woolsey Hall and that he will also be presenting along with YCC Events Director Steven Orientale ’21 at Yale Up — Yale’s first-year pep rally.
He added that the YCC is working to create new groups within the organization called affinity networks — internal groups based on common interests or identities that are typically underrepresented in the YCC in the past that would also help with recruitment. Inspired by the Yale Alumni Association’s shared interest groups, Greene explained that these affinity networks would provide space for members of a community to share experiences and learn more from one another. The first of these is the newly created YCC Women Affinity Network.
“I’m the first black president so this is something that’s really important to me, I don’t want to be the last black president,” Greene said.
According to Greene, the YCC also plans on many other policy projects for the school year, such as expanding mental health services and the financial aid task force, providing water provisions to fraternities, improving the information available on leaves of absences and offering free or subsidized laundry services.
YCC Vice President Grace Kang ’21 explained that the expansion of the Domestic Summer Award is one of her “biggest priorities,” adding that DSA-related policies affect most of the student body. She added that the current DSA policy excludes campaign work or any work with pay, unless they are paid less than $1500. Kang also said that while she was largely involved in the sexual assault resources projects last year, that the work was difficult because they lacked “any sort of direction on it.” This year, Kang is excited that the YCC has “a couple of actionable items” to get done, giving her “a much clearer idea of what to do.”
Kang also mentioned that she plans on working to have the Schwarzman Center offer late-night snack options when it opens. Similar to how Commons operated when it was open, the Schwarzman Center would offer pantry-style food so that students could have late night alternative food options “that they won’t have to spend extra cash on.”
When asked about the feasibility of all of the YCC’s upcoming policy projects, Kang said that she is hopeful that the initiatives she is working on will be successful. She cited meetings she has already had with Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun and other deans within the University, explaining that many of their plans have already received support from these administrators. Kang added that the main goal for the YCC this year is to sustain the impact that last year’s administration and team of senators had on campus.
“The YCC did amazing work last year, and I hope Kahlil and I can keep that momentum and progress,” Kang said.
Five students interviewed by the news reacted positively to the YCC’s upcoming plans, although all of them were unclear on who the YCC’s leaders are.
“Even though I don’t know [who] the YCC President [is], they seem to be doing a good job,” Elliot Britton ’22 said.
Greene won the YCC presidency in an uncontested election this April with 89.72 percent of the vote.
Alayna Lee | firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction, Aug. 29: A former version of this article stated that the current DSA policy excludes campaign work or any work with pay no matter how low the wage is. In fact, YCC Vice President Grace Kang ’21 clarified after publication that it excludes any work with pay unless the work pays less than $1500.