In the Yale College Council and outside of it, I have had the privilege of learning from a broad array of campus leaders. And I mean that — it’s truly been an honor for me. Because the President of the Yale Student Environmental Coalition, who co-organized the Inaugural Climate Crisis Summit and led so many green initiatives this past year, has been a relentless advocate for sustainability at Yale. Because Yale Homelessness and Hunger Action Project members will go on a four-hour Costco run with me to make food available over break when the dining hall is not an option. Because no one can speak more eloquently and thoughtfully about divestment than the students I know from the Endowment Justice Coalition, from whom I have learned so much.
Each of these leaders and so many more are inspirations to me — they’re competent, compassionate and so strongly committed to uplifting our peers and holding Yale accountable. And their passion is infectious. Every day that I spend speaking to my peers about their mission, their hopes, and fears, I learn more and more about the many barriers that I have never had to face as well as the ones I am uniquely affected by every day.
And from my extensive experience in student government, I have learned that at the end of the day, try as one might, no YCC president can so intimately know the experience of every person on this campus. No other YCC presidential candidate, for instance, can know my lived experience as a woman of color. But that’s the point. The YCC president, and every single member of the YCC, must center leaders who are equipped with the knowledge and experience to tackle complex campus issues. The truth is that YCC is not about one individual person. It’s about being on a team that never stops growing, never stops listening, and never stops fighting. It’s not just about soliciting student input, it’s about including everyone as an active changemaker and stakeholder.
None of this to say, however, that YCC’s independent policy-making doesn’t matter — it affects all of us. The YCC for instance, is the reason students on a leave of absence are allowed to hold leadership positions, the reason why we have direct transit to cultural centers, the reason why free menstrual hygiene products have been distributed to every residential college, and more. So who we elect matters affects you in some way too. That’s why it is so important to remember that whoever wins on Friday, starts on Friday. Our budget needs to be determined in the following weeks, new Senators need to be onboarded, and the YCC survey which informs a majority of our policy projects needs to be circulated this month. There is so much to do. We don’t have three months of preparation time to devise a robust plan for every campus issue. If you don’t have a comprehensive approach to academics, civic engagement, and more by Friday, you don’t have one at all. There is no time to build more relationships or gain more experience before assuming office in one day.
So whoever you choose, make sure that they’re someone you know, based on their record, will hit the ground running to work with students across campus and bring you the Yale you deserve.
ALIESA BAHRI is a junior in Pauli Murray College. She is running for President of the Yale College Council. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .