The Yale College Council announced Esha Bhattacharya ’24 as the new athletics chair on its executive board.
This year, the YCC restructured its policy positions, opting to replace the three former policy directors with 15 policy chairs — a move that eliminated the requirement that students have prior YCC experience in order to lead policy initiatives within the YCC E-board. The athletics chair is one such new position that has been added this year, created to coordinate and manage YCC senate projects that address the needs of student-athletes.
“We created this position in order to ensure that policy efforts related to athletes were given more individualized attention and leadership,” YCC President Aliesa Bahri ’22 wrote in an email to the News.
According to Bahri, the athletics chair will be responsible for coordinating YCC senate projects about issues facing student-athletes and will serve as a liaison between the YCC and the Student-Athlete Advisory committee, student-athletes, academic departments and other relevant bodies.
Since Bhattacharya is currently a member of the U.S. Rowing Association’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee, as well as a coxswain on the Yale women’s crew team, she understands the importance of advocating for policies for student-athletes.
“I have always admired YCC for how closely it works with both Yale administrators and students to meet student needs and foster the community that we came here for,” Bhattacharya wrote in an email to the News. “I was really excited for the creation of the Athletics Chair position as recognition of and a meaningful solution to the issues of student-athletes at Yale. I wanted to take on the role because I am extremely passionate about the issues it addresses and the value of Yale’s student-athletes.”
According to Bhattacharya, as athletics chair, she hopes to work with student groups and administrators to support athletes on campus academically, athletically and culturally. Specifically, she hopes to promote inclusivity within the athletic community, increase accessibility to necessary nutritional and medical resources and foster a sense of pride for teams.
Riley Meeks ’23, a member of the Yale gymnastics team, told the News that she looks forward to Bhattacharya’s changes and welcomes the athletics chair position. She further commented that she would love to see the athletics chair build a stronger connection between non-athletes and Yale Athletics.
“I think that the biggest challenge that we see is the fan base at our games and competitions, and I would love to see the new athletics chair work with YCC on this,” Meeks wrote in an email to the News.
Meeks thinks that increasing sports spectatorship would serve both student-athletes and non-athletes alike. However, the COVID-19 pandemic’s cancellation of Ivy League athletics as well as community health guidelines prohibiting group congregation may temporarily hinder potential efforts to increase attendance at sporting events. Yale intramural sports also bar spectators from their events.
According to Meeks, the athletics chair position exemplifies the potential for unity between Yalies, regardless of athletic involvement. Though she is grateful for the athletics chair’s focus on sports-specific concerns, Meeks thinks all 15 new policy chairs serve a crucial role in voicing student opinions within the YCC.
“It’s important that all views are heard and seen, and the best way to do this is to have representatives from a multitude of aspects of Yale College life,” Meeks said.
Students outside of Yale athletics echoed Meeks’ sentiment. A non-athlete, Nader Granmayeh ’24 is a member of the Whaling Crew, a student group dedicated to boosting spectatorship at Yale’s sporting events.
In an email to the News, he emphasized the importance of athletics on Yale’s campus, along with the value of greater representation within the YCC.
“I’m glad the YCC is making attempts to further cater to student athlete needs,” Granmayeh wrote. “Students know best what students need and it’s important to increase their voice on campus.”
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