Courtesy of Surbhi Bharadwaj and Reilly Johnson

The Yale College Council has restructured their positions for this upcoming year, replacing the three policy director positions with 15 policy chairs. 

The previous YCC policy director positions of University services director, student life director and academics director have now been divided into more specific policy chair positions, including ones that focus on civic engagement, sexual wellness, COVID-19 and others. Previously, students interested in leading policy initiatives on the YCC E-board were required to have prior experience on the YCC. However, these new policy chair positions were created in part to eliminate that rule and are open to any member of the student body regardless of student government experience.

“This change was made in order to ensure that EBoard positions are more manageable and accessible to students, to open up more opportunities for students who have gained valuable skills and knowledge in capacities beyond YCC and to ensure that each area of student life (ex: mental health, sexual wellness, sustainability, etc.) receives the individual oversight and attention deserved,” YCC President Aliesa Bahri ’22 wrote in an email to the News. 

Bahri explained that, like always, the process for serving on e-board is application-based. Bahri and YCC Vice President Reilly Johnson ’22 selected applicants to serve as policy chairs and then the YCC Senate confirmed them. 

Under the old requirements, someone like Katie Schlick ’22 would have been ineligible to lead policy initiatives within the YCC. Before this year, Schlick had never served in any formal capacity on the YCC. She is now able to serve as the YCC sustainability co-chair. 

A self-described “passionate environmentalist,” Schlick is applying her prior experience with sustainability — including as the co-president of the Yale Student Environmental Coalition and the co-president of Yale Project Bright, a renewable energy advocacy group — to her current position. Among many things, her main goal is to ensure that intersectional sustainability and environmentalism become permanently wrapped into the YCC’s events, policies and initiatives.  

Schlick supports the decision to replace the policy director positions with policy chairs. She explained that with this change, more students can afford to get involved with student government because the time commitment is more feasible — especially for first generation, low-income students since the new positions are more focused than the old ones. Further, she stated her belief that this will allow the YCC to become more “specialized” and build its capacity to create more effective policy.

“The change allows people like myself, who have spent their entire Yale careers working on issues they care about and advocating for a better Yale alongside many other students, to get involved in and further YCC’s work on a host of campus issues,” Schlick wrote in an email to the News. “I believe this YCC administration, much like the last, is committed to meaningfully valuing and elevating the work of student groups and elevating it to a level at which it can become institutionalized campus-wide.”

Saket Malhotra ’23 was a YCC senator for Pauli Murray College last year, where he worked on universal pass and expanding the certificate programs available to students. This year, he is the academics chair for the YCC. As the political chair for the Asian American Students Alliance and as a member of Asian Students for Ethnic Studies, he has experience advocating for expanded ethnic studies curricula and disaggregated admissions data. 

Now as the academics director, he is able to work on these projects with greater support. 

“I think dividing the policy director roles across multiple chairs was a smart move as it allows for more students to be involved with YCC (by creating E Board positions and teams for students to join) and makes policy director roles way more manageable and accessible for full time students to take on,” Malhotra wrote in an email to the News. 

This year, he is hoping to work with many student groups to create and advocate for more academic policy changes. Specifically, he wants to think of better accommodations for remote students in different time zones and make selective academic programs more accessible to all. 

Both Schlick and Malhotra agree that this change within YCC structure will lead to a more accessible, effective and inclusive institution. 

“As a senior, I can confidently say that our best resources at Yale are each other,” Schlick, who is on a gap year, wrote. “There are so many students doing meaningful work on this campus, in whatever form that work takes… The replacement of [policy director] positions with policy chairs intentionally creates space for these voices to be heard and provides them with new resources—namely, direct access to the Yale Administration and the YCC’s platform—to continue and expand their good work.”

The YCC was established in 1972. 

Julia Bialek | julia.bialek@yale.edu