The YCC elections today will be of a kind we haven’t seen in several years. In an uncontested race for the 2022-23 student executive board, Leleda Beraki ‘24 and Iris Li ‘24 are the only running mates. While we at the Editorial Board of the News – like so much of the student body – hoped that there would have been a more open race, we are nonetheless excited to endorse Leleda Beraki and her running mate Iris Li for president and vice president. We can’t wait to see the changes they will help bring to our campus this coming year.
We are hopeful that Beraki and Li will be able to give our student body the representation it deserves, as outlined in their News Profiles earlier this week. Leleda was a member of the Freshman Class Council, where she worked with Yale’s library system and launched a pilot program to subsidize grad-school prep classes. Iris has served as a deputy academics chair and UOFC finance manager. Together, they have spearheaded academic reforms like the expansion of the Credit-D/Fail policy.
During our interview with the candidates, Beraki and Li shared proposals which ranged widely in ambition and scope. They plan to push for everything from hybridizing large lectures and increasing meal swipe transparency to expanding the current financial aid programs and solving Yale’s housing crisis. We believe that many of these policies will have direct benefits on our student life.
After nearly two and a half incredibly stressful years of Zoom classes and quarantining, the running mates seem highly aware of the steep challenges that remain to improving mental health on campus. They hope to continue expanding the YC3 model, which would lower counselor wait times and relieve some of the college-transition stress for incoming first-years. Beraki spoke additionally about the need to rethink the university’s withdrawal policies: currently, Yale only allows its students 72 hours to leave campus. Her planned reforms would begin by increasing the accessibility of the withdrawal website while demanding more humane withdrawal agreements from the University. The pair also looks to continue their current work with department DUSs in allowing Credit-D/Fail courses to count towards major requirements.
When asked about Yale’s relationship with New Haven, Beraki and Li unveiled their plan to amplify existing efforts to engage with the local community. This would entail increased funding for current student organizations that directly support the city, but also the creation of a “city engagement chair” — a local, high-school age resident who would help increase New Haven’s presence within our college gates. Yale libraries have also been a point of interest. Noting that Yale’s libraries had been open to the public in pre-pandemic years, Beraki is excited to help Sterling reopen its doors to all by 2023.
Above all, the campaign places an emphasis on reforming the student body’s relationship with the YCC. Amidst one of the YCC’s most challenging years in recent history, they intend to address the general campus-wide apathy by increasing accountability to the student body. Beraki and Li blamed the YCC’s hierarchical structure for much of the burnout among student senators this year. This coming school year, they want to bring back the representative branch and allow student senators to propose their projects directly before the College Dean.
Nevertheless, we are concerned about the feasibility of their proposals. Mending relations with New Haven, confronting the mental health crisis and academic burnout — even reviving student interest in the YCC at a time when our peer institutions have passed historic referendums scrapping theirs — will be no easy task. Watching the climate of the past few years, as well as the University’s response to these issues, has left us skeptical that any meaningful change can be made in the coming year.
Beraki and Li, however, remain optimistic. They understand that enacting broad-scale institutional changes will be difficult, if not impossible, but aren’t willing to let these obstacles prevent them from at least trying. They said that their imagined reforms will only be as successful as their fellow students and administrators are willing to make them. The two hope that they can help make the YCC more approachable to all, to lead with grace and compassion. As for the mark they hoped to leave after office, they said it best: to have their ideas become a reality that all future Yalies can enjoy.