Courtesy of Julian Suh-Toma and Maya Fonkeu

In an email to the student body on Friday evening, outgoing Yale College Council vice president Iris Li ’24 announced the election of Julian Suh-Toma ’25 and Maya Fonkeu ’25 as YCC president and vice president. 

This election boasts a higher turnout than the past two years of YCC elections, with 2,180 total students voting. It is also the most contested election in over 20 years, with six students running for president and five running for vice president.

“I feel incredibly grateful that this student body has entrusted us with the leadership of the YCC. Maya and I are going to work tirelessly to ensure that this trust doesn’t feel misplaced,” Suh-Toma told the News.

The election used ranked-choice voting, asking students to rank candidates in order of preference and requiring a candidate to receive over 50 percent of the vote to win. In the ranked choice voting system, if no candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The vote of any student who ranked the eliminated candidate first is then redistributed to the candidate they ranked second. This process is continued until one candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote.  

Fonkeu won her election in the first round, with 54.9 percent of the vote, making her the YCC’s first Black female vice president. 

I am honored and humbled to be the first Black female vice president of the Yale College Council,” Fonkeu said. “This is also daunting; I do not hold this title lightly whatsoever. I am representing a community larger than just my individual self and the work I do in this position paves the way for students like me to follow, just as I follow those who came before me.”

Fonkeu’s election is the latest in a series of firsts for the YCC — Leleda Beraki ’24 became the first Black female president last year, while 2021 saw YCC’s first Muslim president and 2019 saw YCC’s first Black president.

Although the vice presidential election was decided without any elimination rounds, the presidential election was more complicated. In the first round of votes, Suh-Toma received 812 votes, or 37.5 percent. After multiple rounds of elimination, Suh-Toma emerged victorious with 1288 votes, or 59.6 percent of the vote.

Last year, Beraki and Li ran uncontested, and Beraki won the presidency with 615 votes. In 2021, Bayan Galal ’23 became president after getting 1131 votes in an election with a turnout of 2007 students. Turnout for the YCC election of 2020 currently tops that of any elections following, with Aliesa Bahri ’22 winning with 64.17 percent of the 2640 votes. 

Previously, Suh-Toma served as YCC Senator for Benjamin Franklin College and Fonkeu served as the YCC Career Resources Policy Director, in addition to both being Communication and Consent Educators for their respective colleges. 

The pair emphasized transparency from Yale and the YCC in their platform, and advocated for demonstrable change in areas such as mental health treatment on campus, policies surrounding the add/drop period and credit/D/fail, and support for First Generation Low Income students. 

“In the Presidential debate, I acknowledged that YCC candidates often overpromise and underdeliver,” Suh-Toma told the News. “From [the moment] our administration comes into effect, we’re going to deliver on our promises, and show exactly what we meant by a ‘More Transparent Yale.’”

Li told the News that she believed that Suh-Toma and Fonkeu to be qualified for the roles of president and vice president. She added that she was excited to see how they continue the legacy of the YCC president and vice president by representing and advocating for the student body.

“These roles require people who have been consistent in their efforts to make this university a more equitable place,” Li wrote in an email to the News. “I believe they will continue working and building on decades of student group and YCC advocacy while simultaneously pursuing new solutions to novel problems.”

In addition to Suh-Toma and Fonkeu, Brian Zhang ’25 will be the new Junior Class Council president after receiving 46.3 percent of the votes prior to any rounds of elimination and 55.6 percent, or 509 votes, after one elimination round. Zhang is also a staff reporter for the News. The Sophomore Class Council president will be Mimi Papathanasopoulos ’26, who ran uncontested.

Olivia Lombardo ’25 was elected as the new YCC Events Director in an uncontested race. Lombardo has two major goals she hopes to accomplish first in this position, one of which is internally-focused and the other of which is directed externally.

“My first internal goal will be to take inventory, meet with the former YCC Events Director, and review and revamp all event planning guides,” Lombardo told the News. “Externally, I am looking forward to beginning those initial conversations regarding organizational partnerships to set a positive tone for the upcoming year.”

Fonkeu described the election process as being tiring but rewarding. Although campaigning took a lot of work, Fonkeu is grateful for the experience and the reception that she received from the Yale community during her campaign.

Putting yourself out there in front of the student body can be such a scary thing, but I was met with nothing but warmth, encouragement, and support,” Fonkeu told the News. “I’m happy I was able to do it with Julian and grateful to everyone that helped us along the way.”

According to Suh-Toma, the pair’s platform was intentionally built on input from as many people as possible. To them, the platform was “a living and breathing document” that changed as they listened to stories from more of their peers.

“From the start, we recognized that there is no one better to help shape our platform on a specific issue than those who are most affected by it, and that was the guiding principle in developing our platform,” Suh-Toma told the News.

Viktor Kagan ’24, who served as Suh-Toma and Fonkeu’s campaign manager during the election, told the News that he was excited to see them work toward the changes outlined in their platform. 

He noted that he joined their campaign because he believes in their ability to effectively advocate for the issues that they are passionate about.

Their work this year spoke to the leadership and advocacy I want at the helm of YCC and [I] wanted to do all I could to ensure they win, for the best of the Yale student body,” Kagan told the News.

Jeremy Williams ’25, who served as their elections coordinator for their campaign, chose to work on their campaign for a similar reason—he has trust in Suh-Toma and Fonkeu to do their best for the student body.

Even if Suh-Toma and Fonkeu are not able to accomplish everything they set out to in their platform, Williams hopes that they will begin addressing every issue noted in the platform over the course of their term. 

Reflecting on her term as vice president, Li shared that she is grateful for the opportunity to serve the student body for the final time by overseeing the election. Apr. 14 marked the end of seven years of student government for Li, and she said she was appreciative of the opportunity to ensure that students’ were able to choose their campus leadership.

“I think one of the most rewarding parts of being in this role was internally transforming the organization while serving the student body externally,” Li said. “It has been a joy every week to hear from eager Senators, Executive Board members, and delegates about their work to improve this institution.”

In light of the election results, both Suh-Toma and Fonkeu voiced their support for the other candidates. Suh-Toma and Fonkeu told the News that every candidate added important perspectives to the conversation, and that they are grateful for everyone who ran.

“Despite all the vulnerability, time, and effort that such a public race demands, everyone elevated the conversation to talk about vital aspects of student life,” Suh-Toma said. “The election dialogue, Maya and I’s campaign and Yale were better for it.”

Suh-Toma and Fonkeu began their terms as YCC president and vice president at 12 a.m. on Apr. 15.

Janalie Cobb is an Audience Editor for the News and a former University staff reporter. She is a junior from Chicago in Davenport College double majoring in political science and psychology.