The Yale College Council officially created three affinity networks — for women, first-generation low-income students and black students — to support representatives and their constituents that fall under each respective purview.
The members of the networks will be YCC representatives who identify with these groups, which are underrepresented within the council. In turn, the affinity groups will advocate for their communities campus-wide, according to a YCC email sent in September. Each group has their own initiatives that they plan to carry out during the year, including mentorship programs, networking opportunities and community outreach to local high schools.
“I hope that these networks increase representation and retention of marginalized communities on the council,” YCC president Kahlil Greene ’21 wrote in an email to the News.
The FGLI Affinity Network, led by YCC Director of Student Life Karen Li ’22, will partner with other FGLI initiatives on campus. She added that the YCC hopes to provide resources and publicity to such existing groups.
Li hopes to collaborate with Future Leaders of Yale on a variety of projects, like adding a food pantry for students on campus and creating a FGLI handbook with “tips and tricks” for navigating Yale.
“In the most recent years, the University has taken steps to support and uplift FGLI students, and I just wanted the YCC to be a part of that,” Li said.
The Black Affinity Network is headed by YCC Senator Trisha Victor ’23, who worked with the Yale African American Affinity Group to create a model for the YCC network. Together, they decided to focus on key values like “culture, city, career and excellence.”
The network is planning an event for February in honor of Black History Month, as well as a series of visits to local high schools in New Haven. Additionally, they hope to launch career outreach initiatives, which could include a panel composed of black business owners.
“[The YCC] is still very much a white space, and having this affinity group makes us more visible. It makes it more of a community,” Victor said. “When we have our events and it’s more visible to the Yale community as a whole, I think that’s really going to affect elections in the spring, and hopefully there will be more diversity in the YCC after the election cycle.”
In early September, the Women’s Affinity Network launched its first initiative — a mentorship program for women and gender minorities — in collaboration with the Yale Women’s Leadership Initiative. Aliesa Bahri ’22, the University services director on the YCC Executive Board, started the women’s affinity group as a way to encourage more women to run for YCC positions and to support women who are already on the council.
The network is also looking beyond just the YCC to see what they can do to improve the experience of all women at Yale.
“I wanted YCC women to have the encouragement, resources and tools they need to utilize student government as a force for fairness and progress on campus,” Bahri wrote in an email to the News. “I truly do believe that [the] Yale College Council has been and can be an instrument of positive change, but only if it is a representative of the body it has been elected to serve.”
The YCC was established in 1972.
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