In today’s edition of the News, you will see a column written by Megan Vaz, who stepped down from her role as city editor earlier this week.
As friends and peers, we above all want to recognize and validate the hurt the elections process caused Megan, as well as others involved. Nothing we say will appropriately acknowledge or make up for these experiences; instead of relitigating or making any excuses, we instead want to use this space to transparently discuss how the elections process here works, prior attempts to improve the system and some of our thoughts for future efforts.
Across four years — in each News election during which we have been Yale students — the process has caused candidates and News members anguish. Given widening campus discourse around the subject, we feel it is important to quickly and directly take action.
Participants involved in the News’ elections for editorial positions consist of all outgoing editors and anyone who is running for a board position sitting together in a room. For each race, those running for that position leave the room. They are brought in individually to deliver a speech and to answer questions from the outgoing editor in chief and anyone else. The candidate then leaves the room before the whole group conducts a deliberation of the candidate’s merits, weaknesses and insecurities, moderated by the outgoing editor in chief and public editor. After this, the candidate comes back in for a brief response period where they are expected to address any remaining concerns.
The full day of elections, which involves positions from editor in chief and managing editors all the way to desk-level positions, can last all day. Last spring, elections began at 8 a.m. and went past 9 p.m.
But Megan’s column today, years of internal discussion and our own elections experiences demonstrate that this process can be irreparably harmful.
The elections process has been subject to scrutiny before. The turmoil and tensions promoted during deliberations are often internally blamed for the eventual departure of staffers after losing elections.
Following a tumultuous situation during the 2022 fall elections for last year’s board, News leadership made changes, which included introducing a response period and adding the public editor as a secondary moderator. As the News grows and changes, we have consistently strived to learn and do better. Clearly, those changes were not enough.
We, the editor in chief and public editor, began exploring new approaches to elections last spring, and we will continue this work throughout the semester in preparation for next term’s elections. Some of our ideas thus far include transitioning from a lengthy spoken deliberation period to preapproved written comments, fostering a more respectful environment within the room and stricter enforcement of the current ban on defamatory gossip.
As a newspaper that strives to promote diversity in our newsroom and in our pages, we actively seek to build trust both internally and externally. We often fall short. Over the next few months, while we reevaluate our elections procedures, we welcome community input and hope to build a better newsroom.
ANIKA ARORA SETH is a junior in Branford College and is the 146th editor in chief and president of the Yale Daily News. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DANTE MOTLEY is a senior in Grace Hopper College and the News’ current public editor. You can contact him at email@example.com.