Courtesy of Celene Bennett and Juan Borrego

In their campaign for Yale College Council president and vice president, Celene Bennett ’26 and Juan Borrego ’26 are focused on “Connecting Yale.”

“Connecting Yale” includes four prongs striving to connect the YCC to the student body, the administration and to student organizations. The fourth prong aims to connect Yale with New Haven. With this platform, Bennett and Borrego say that they are committed to using the power of the YCC to enact tangible change.

This year, Bennett has served as a YCC senator from Timothy Dwight College and as the deputy director of the financial policy team. Borrego has been a YCC senator for Silliman College. Both Bennett and Borrego have served on numerous teams within the YCC, including the health and accessibility team, the financial policy team and the laundry task force. Both from Georgia, they first met the summer before arriving on Yale’s campus as first years and decided to run together after successfully working on policy this year.

“I think this campaign process has been an opportunity to share the things that I’ve been so excited about all year, and I have so much excitement still to continue the projects that are in progress, and then also pursue new ideas,” Bennett said.

The two cited the balance between them as their greatest strength and emphasized the power in being friends in addition to campaign partners. Borrego added that he was “inspired” by Bennett’s work in the YCC before they became running mates. Bennett praised Borrego’s honesty and added that it’s “the best type of relationship to bounce ideas off of each other.”

On their platform, Bennett and Borrego have identified a disconnect between YCC and the student body. Bennett highlighted the potential the YCC has to make change due to its budget and direct connection to Yale administrators yet noted that she feels that students aren’t fully aware of this power and how effective the YCC can be.

Bennett and Borrego plan to publish the agenda of senate hearings a week in advance and introduce a senate guest form, allowing students outside the YCC to get a spot on the YCC agenda. 

Bennett and Borrego are also committed to the relationship between Yale and New Haven, where they believe that accessibility to transportation is one of the largest barriers for Yalies to engage with the city.

In their platform, they plan to pass a program that connects Yale with U-Pass, a program through the Connecticut Department of Transportation that provides free public transportation across Connecticut. 

“We want to make things as clear as possible to increase engagement because we want it to be very easy for students,” Bennett said, adding that it is important to go beyond just providing information. 

In reference to student organizations, Bennett and Borrego noted that they want to use the power of the YCC to amplify the efforts of different organizations. 

Borrego described the YCC as “a funnel for all this energy, all these ripples of change,” adding that the YCC should not be “taking credit for work that other groups have worked so tirelessly on all these years.” 

Bennett and Borrego cited their established connections with administrators through their work at the YCC as something that sets their campaign apart. The two noted that setting up standing meetings between YCC senators and administrators is one of their plans to further connect the YCC with the administration.

“We’ve touched so many, so many parts of the YCC policy branch that I think we’re best suited to address these issues and start from the ground running,” said Borrego.

Bennett and Borrego are in support of raising the student activities fee, which is currently a $125 payment that is part of undergraduate tuition. The fee goes toward activities and events on campus, and this change has already been discussed in this year’s YCC. Bennett noted that in her meeting with the financial aid team, the financial aid office stressed that the higher fee would be covered by aid packages for students on financial aid. 

Moreover, Bennett and Borrego further highlighted that it is possible to opt out of the fee. In the case that students opt out, Bennett and Borrego said that the University still covers the fee. 

“We [are] for the idea of having more money to contribute back to student organizations,”  Bennett said. 

Throughout their campaign so far, Bennett and Borrego have hosted buttery bonding sessions in Branford, Saybrook, Jonathan Edwards, Pierson, Davenport and Trumbull colleges. They will visit the remaining college butteries on April 15, April 16 and April 18. 

In addition, their Instagram, @connectingyale, has included their spin on The New York Times Connections game, with connections between aspects of their campaign and platform. 

“Just speaking with students one on one, that’s one of my favorite things, and the issues that they care about, and who they would like the qualities of the next president and vice president to be,” Borrego said in reference to the people he and Bennett have met while campaigning. 

Voting begins on April 18 at 9 a.m. on YaleConnect and closes at 9 p.m. on April 19.

Chris is an associate beat reporter for Student Life. He is a freshman in Morse studying Ethics, Politics, and Economics.