Courtesy of Reilly Johnson
This interview is a part of a five-part series on the YCC candidates running for schoolwide office for the next academic year. This interview with presidential candidate Bayan Galal ’23 was conducted via email because the candidate was unavailable for a phone interview. Galal currently serves as a YCC senator and health and COVID-19 policy chair, and is running for president alongside vice presidential candidate Zoe Hsu ’24. Her responses were lightly edited for clarity. You can find Galal and Hsu’s platform at thecheckupyaleneeds.com.
Why are you running?
As the world slowly recovers from COVID-19, we appreciate now, more than ever before, the importance of health. But many things have been plaguing our campus and global community since well before COVID-19. Working through health issues has taken collaboration, not only at the campus level, but globally. I want to leverage and uplift the efforts of community and classmates, institutions and resources to build a healthier Yale.
I’m running for YCC president because I have a clear vision for what a healthier Yale can look like, a clear track record of getting things done as the candidate with the most experience and a clear desire to uplift and represent the communities I’m a part of, as well as those that I’m not. As a leader, I’ve helped to bring forward many policies at Yale during some of the arguably most difficult semesters in recent history. I took on the inaugural role of health & COVID-19 policy chair in the midst of a global pandemic and learned to make decisive choices that would benefit the student body. The ability to focus on actionable steps toward an end goal is something Zoe [Hsu ’24, candidate for YCC vice president] and I have in common. My focus has always been on results that directly benefit the student body, and if elected president, I know that I can move Yale in a healthier direction.
Additionally, in the post-Trump era, being elected as the first Muslim student body president not only at Yale, but in the Ivy League, would be an incredible step towards greater representation for both the Muslim community and marginalized communities generally. I know what it means to fight for one’s community, and I will bring that resilience to the table as I fight for every Yale student.
What issue matters most to you?
Full-spectrum health at Yale is the issue most important to me. It is essential that the vision for health be comprehensive — one that not only emphasizes physical health and health care access, but also mental health and the overall well-being of the student body, community health and the centering of marginalized groups on campus, institutional and academic health and financial health and its impact on equitable opportunities on campus. We can do better, and need to do better in each of these areas of health. Through these five central pillars of health, I hope to focus on adding value to the experience of other people as a top priority.
What issues do you think matter most to Yalies?
I think Yalies care about issues that impact their day-to-day lives, that impact equitable opportunities to thrive at Yale and that impact the lived experiences of those around them who they would also like to see thrive. [Hsu’s and my] policy platform centers both short- and long-term goals for all five pillars of health, because we want to emphasize policies and projects that will benefit Yalies now while also setting a clear foundation for continued improvement of Yale for those to come.
I think Yalies also want to make a difference and to see results — it’s what we expect of ourselves and it’s what we should expect from our leaders as well. This is something that I’ve constantly delivered on, and I plan to continue to do so as president.
Why are you qualified?
I’m the only candidate in the race with two years of YCC experience — a time that I’ve spent on class councils, [YCC] Senate and the executive board as health & COVID-19 chair, which was one of the most challenging and evolving roles throughout the year. Through those experiences, I’ve gained a strong understanding of what it takes to achieve measurable results, as well as how to act and respond quickly. I’ve made a tangible impact on students by securing reimbursements of up to $120 per week for COVID-19 testing, [personal protective equipment] kits for off-campus students in New Haven, textbook reimbursements for FGLI students and working on projects that constantly funnel resources back into the Yale and New Haven communities. Additionally, I’ve spent my time outside of the YCC heavily involved on campus, such as through advocacy efforts in the Middle Eastern and North African Students Association, as we’ve fought for a cultural house and for representation more broadly.
Additionally, my background as a hijabi Muslim and Arab woman means that I know what it means to be from communities that are either silenced or misrepresented constantly. But it also means that I’ve learned what it means to need to fight for the groups that I’m a part of and uplift the ones that I am not a part of. And I plan to continue to do just that as president.
What do you want to get done in your term if you’re elected?
If elected, I want to provide the Yale student body with tangible outputs that benefit their health — in all aspects. I want to continue the fight for equitable physical health access by subsidizing emergency medications so that students don’t have to pay unreasonable copays, expanding access to disposable menstrual products to include all campus buildings and offering prorated health insurance rates. I want to directly address mental health needs on campus by establishing a student advisory committee within YMHC that advises on the hiring of clinicians, amending FroCo training to include mental health first aid training and continuing my work with Mental Health Justice at Yale to advocate for the hiring of more BIPOC and LGBTQ clinicians and the increase in default session times from 30 to 60 minutes. I want to build our community health by establishing free legal advice and protection for student protesters through a partnership with Yale Law School, creating a collaboration fund for student organizations to work with organizations in New Haven that are already working towards similar causes and supporting BSDY in its demands. I want to emphasize institutional and academic health by appointing a student representative to the Yale Corporation in order to promote student values at the highest level of Yale’s decision-making, creating a retroactive Credit/D/Fail system that allows students to apply Credit/D/Fail even after taking a course and advocating for the continued recording of lecture courses even upon the return to in-person classes. I want to prioritize financial health by subsidizing fees for graduate school applications, including textbook costs in financial aid and fighting alongside SUN for the elimination of the SIC.
If elected, I ultimately want to deliver on the campaign promise of Building a Healthier Yale. This means delivering measurable results that help students at the individual level and at the community level.