Yale TV

The start of the fall semester meant more than just a return to campus for Julian Suh-Toma ’25 and Maya Fonkeu ’25. For the duo, the semester is also their first leading the student body as Yale College Council president and vice president. 

After their election last spring, which boasted the highest voter turnout in YCC election history and the most contested YCC election in the last 20 years, the two have already launched into their work. Since their tenures officially began in June, Suh-Toma and Fonkeu have been appointing students to specific roles within the YCC and setting the budget. 

“We’ve been working since the beginning of the summer,” Suh-Toma told the News. “Maya and I began with appointing members to our executive board — administrative and financial roles — and then we hosted our first all-YCC meeting in June.” 

Suh-Toma and Fonkeu said the financial roles appointed over the summer include the new director of the undergraduate organizations funding committee and the YCC’s business directors. 

The budget, however, Suh-Toma and Fonkeu said, is set to be proposed in the coming weeks. 

While Suh-Toma and Fonkeu ran on a set of overarching priorities, mainly focused on transparency, members of the YCC have started to organize their own initiatives. 

Mimi Papathanasopoulos ’26, the YCC sophomore class council president and the YCC’s health and accessibility policy director, wrote to the News that she has used part of the $1,500 allocated in the YCC budget for “Health and Accessibility” to plan an upcoming mental health and wellness event. 

“My priorities include advocating for the expansion of counseling services and other mental health solutions to minimize wait times and increase accessibility,” Papathanasopoulos wrote to the News. 

Papathanasopoulos said she plans to sit down with leaders of Yale Mental Health and Counseling this semester to decrease waiting times and improve services. She added that she hopes to engage in collaboration with mental health advocacy groups like the Yale Student Mental Health Association and Elis for Rachael.

While Mental Health and Counseling has expanded its services in recent years, students have often complained of long wait times for MHC and psychiatry appointments at Yale Health, as well as the branding of these services as “short-term therapy.” 

Yale’s mental health policies, especially around medical leaves of absence, have come under scrutiny in recent years. These policies were at the center of a class-action lawsuit filed by students and Elis for Rachael. In the lawsuit’s wake and, again, following the announcement of both parties coming to a settlement agreement in August, the University announced momentous changes in the leave policies. 

Besides the appointed executive board, the YCC also includes a senate with 24 senators who represent each of Yale’s 14 residential colleges. Every senate meeting is open to the public, according to Fonkeu. The senators’ roles are outlined in the YCC Constitution, which was renewed and revised Sept. 1 of this year. The senate, run by Vice President Fonkeu, confirms each of the appointed members of the executive board. 

Morse College Senator Ciara Lonergan ’25 is involved in efforts similar to Papathanasopoulos. Lonergan co-wrote a report throughout last semester on menstrual product accessibility and the distribution of menstrual products around restrooms on campus.

The CCE program, Lonergan said, currently provides menstrual products in the laundry rooms of residential colleges. But she said those are inaccessible to non-residents of the college and do not account for emergency situations that happen in other buildings on campus. 

“Menstrual equity is important to me because, simply put, I am one of thousands of people on this campus who menstruate,” Lonergan wrote to the News. “Every person with a period can describe the terror of forgetting a pad or tampon and having to rely on random people in the bathroom to help.”

Aside from their role in facilitating larger YCC discussions and collaborating with senators and executive board members on their ideas, Suh-Toma and Fonkeu also told the News they have begun organizing their own broader initiatives. 

The pair said they are looking to expand upon Lonergan’s efforts by providing access to menstrual products campus-wide, and said they also hope to offer sustainability workshops. Suh-Toma and Fonkeu have already organized a workshop in partnership with the Yale Student Environmental Coalition. 

Suh-Toma and Fonkeu added they hope to work with the admissions office on efforts to support a diverse student body given the Supreme Court’s strikedown of affirmative action. 

“When the decision dropped, we immediately became in contact with Dean Jeremiah Quinlan,” Suh-Toma said. “We worked to get a meeting set up with the [admissions] office and different cultural advocacy groups on campus, so that [the admissions office] could hear different student voices and perspectives.”

So far, Suh-Toma and Foneku have hosted four all-YCC meetings under their tenure, which began in June. 

Kaitlyn Pohly is a junior in Silliman College. She serves as the News' Sports Editor. Previously, she reported on student life and student policy and affairs for the University Desk. Originally from New York City, Kaitlyn is a History major. Outside of the classroom and the newsroom, Kaitlyn dances with YaleDancers.