Tag Archive: Elections

  1. Behind Closed Doors? Bridging the Gap between Students and the YCC

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    Michael Herbert likes to imagine the Yale College Council (YCC) as a magnifying glass, or perhaps a laser.

    “Think about light,” he says on a Monday morning over coffee. “You go outside, the sun shines on your face, but it’s very diffuse. Take out a magnifying glass, you focus the light a little bit more, and all of the sudden you can set the grass on fire. You magnify that light more, and you make a laser that can shoot down a plane.”

    “When you use that metaphor, what it shows,” he continues, “is that when we focus, when we concentrate our efforts, we’re capable of doing a lot more.”

    In April, Herbert was elected president of the YCC on the strength of what he calls a “unique” campaign: his promotional materials featured him posing with Batman, or staring into the distance alongside running mate Chris Moates ’16 while American flags fluttered in the background.

    Herbert was elected president without any prior YCC affiliation. His candidacy was distinct as well in that Herbert is a conservative on a campus where 80 percent of students planned to vote for Barack Obama in 2012, according to a News survey from that year. He’s also a member of ROTC at a university where it was only recently reinstated.

    Yet in one way, Herbert’s campaign was similar to those that preceded it: He promised to change a system that many saw as flawed, distant and ineffective. His campaign used a mix of humor, populism and opportunity to convince voters that he represented a new brand of YCC President, one who would engage the student body in a way he felt that previous leaders had not.

    But some, including Ben Ackerman ’16, former YCC Student Organizations director and candidate for president, are wary of whether an energetic and eye-catching campaign will translate to effective leadership.

    “I think the election of an outsider may not necessarily be the best way to resolve the underlying discontent [with the YCC] that students have,” Ackerman says. “Unless the outsider has some outstanding capabilities, I don’t know if he or she is going to be able to achieve more than an institutional candidate could.”

    * * *

    As Yale’s student government, the YCC is the official avenue for students to influence University policy. Representatives are elected by residential college, and serve under the guidance of an executive board chosen in a campus-wide election every spring.

    Despite the importance of its mission, the YCC has suffered from widespread student apathy, which Herbert would eventually latch onto in his campaign. This, according to several past and present YCC members interviewed, has at times trapped the YCC in a vicious cycle: students are apathetic because they don’t see results, but without student investment, results are hard to come by.

    The YCC rewrote its constitution last year with the aim of avoiding such a trap. Led by then-President Danny Avraham ’15, the Council’s new members began reforming internal operations as soon as their terms began.

    Those changes were eventually put into writing by Joseph English ’17, then the Davenport representative. The new constitution was ratified by the Council and approved by the administration over the final weekend of January. Avraham sent a campus-wide email that hailed the document as a long-overdue fix to some of the YCC’s most fundamental problems —“a reputation of inaction, inefficiency and overall ineffectiveness.”

    Through the new constitution, elections were reformed so that, rather than having representatives elected in the fall and officers in the spring, each member took office at the same time. The Council adopted an online platform, Trello, to log all YCC decisions and activity. And individuals, rather than committees, would be held responsible for completing projects.

    According to Andrew Grass ‘16, who has served as Communications Director and FCC chair, “the goal of it was to make YCC actually do its job and not spend so much time reinventing the wheel every year.”

    But more than a restructuring, the new constitution was also a rebranding. Because the Council had come under fire for a lack of communication with the student body, Avraham’s board established the Student Referendum as a means of gauging student opinion on a variety of issues. Furthermore, an official YCC production and design team began publicizing the YCC’s work with easy infographics, flashy layouts and a new logo.

    “The rebranding was a way to say, ‘Hey, guys, something new is starting,’” Avraham explains.

    Initially, it seemed to work. After an active fall semester that witnessed the referendum on divestment, progress on long-term initiatives like gender-neutral housing, and short-term accomplishments like the campus events calendar, the once-forlorn council seemed to be working its way back into the campus consciousness. And by spring, the YCC had become a staple of student conversation, but not in the way it had hoped.

    * * *

    When Dean Mary Miller announced last year that she would be retiring, the search for a replacement began, and the administration weighed several options for involving students in the search.

    When administrators eventually settled on including a student representative on the search committee for a new dean, they tasked the YCC with selecting that student. At a February 22 meeting, open to the student body, the YCC turned to the question of how: an application process, a campus-wide election or an internal vote?

    In what YDN columnist Scott Stern ’15, who was in attendance, calls a “contentious” debate, the desire to involve students competed with the logistical problems of holding a fair election on one day’s notice, as the search committee was scheduled to meet on February 24. In the end, the latter won out, and the Council voted 12-9 to choose the student representative via an internal vote.

    The next decision was easier. In a vote of 17-1 with 3 abstentions, the YCC voted for President Danny Avraham to be the student representative on the search committee.

    But for the seven non-YCC members who attended the open meeting, the decision represented a blatant overreach of the Council’s powers.

    “When we elected the YCC, we elected them to do a number of things,” says Stern, one of the non-members arguing against the decision. He was joined by Sterling Johnson ’16 and News columnists Diana Rosen ‘16 and Tyler Blackmon ‘16. “None of those things was to appoint a student representative to a committee to help choose the next dean.”

    Even though Stern and Johnson felt the process was fair, they were nonetheless disappointed with the result, which they felt gave students no voice. And, according to Stern, others agreed.

    “Judging from the response we got from students, on social media and elsewhere,” he says, “I think there were a lot of people who were like, ‘This is different, this is unusual. We care.’”

    * * *

    Part of this frustration with the decision stems from the 2013 YCC elections.

    That year, Avraham was the only candidate for President after his opponent dropped out shortly before the election. Kyle Tramonte ’15 was the only candidate for Vice-President, and Eli Rivkin ’15 the only candidate for events director. Only 953 ballots were cast in the presidential election—a contrast to the 2,618 and 2,704, respectively, in the two years prior.

    While some saw the elections as evidence of widespread apathy, those affiliated with the YCC offer a different account. They say that when Avraham and Tramonte stepped up to fill voids left when board members took leaves of absence in the middle of the year, they became natural candidates for the next round of elections.

    “It was not anything to do with apathy,” says then-President John Gonzalez ’14. Avraham agrees, simply saying that “When someone decides to run, by virtue of the politics that are involved, a lot depends on who they’re running against.”

    Stern believes that the nature of the 2013 elections further alienated the YCC from the student body. Indeed, as students like Ben Healy ‘15 put it, “No one cares about the YCC. Only a few people are interested in it, and they aren’t representative of the school.” Carly Hafner ‘15 echoes that “YCC seems like a certain friend group, and composed of people who want to be seen as the big people on campus.”

    Stern makes clear that he doesn’t blame the winners of those elections for running uncontested. But had there been more contested races and more student interest, he says he would have been more comfortable with the YCC acting unilaterally on students’ behalf.

    When the decision was made public, its reception wasn’t improved by the misinformation that spread throughout campus after the fact, says Zach Murn ’17, who was involved with the presidential campaign of Leah Motzkin ‘16.

    The prevailing notion, says Maia Eliscovich ’16, the current Vice President of YCC, was that “Danny chose himself.” “It was an awkward turn of events,” she concludes.

    This was nothing new; according to Gonzalez and others affiliated with the YCC, students’ lack of knowledge often allows uninformed and unfair images of the YCC to go unchallenged. No student interviewed was able to describe the Council’s decision-making process.

    In reality, the President has no voting power, which is reserved for the representatives and the Vice-President in the case of a tie. Ultimately, Avraham didn’t have a vote in the YCC’s decision.

    And according to Eliscovich, Avraham recused himself for most of the debate, but few people knew that at the time.

    With students unaware of how the YCC actually worked, they were more ready to see the decision as a dictatorial one. In the end, the decision bolstered the perception of YCC as an empowered clique rather than a representative body. Many students interviewed said they view the YCC as distant and opaque, and some YCC members agreed that their friends felt removed from the Council’s actions.

    “As long as I’ve been here,” says Johnson, “YCC has seemed to be less like a student government and more like a club that works with the Yale administration.”

    * * *

    For Michael Herbert, this gap between students and the YCC was the perfect opening. And the wider, the better.

    While Grass, Gonzalez and Avraham still hesitate to acknowledge student apathy as an important element in the 2013 elections, Herbert, in his campaign, underscored it as the most pervasive problem of all. (Today, however, Herbert allows that 2013 was in fact an unusual year for many reasons.)

    In his April 11 YDN op-ed, Herbert wrote of the 2013 elections that, “student apathy was so profound that seven out of twelve colleges did not even have contested elections for the Council of Representatives.”

    But Herbert wasn’t the only candidate running on a quasi-populist platform, and nowhere was that more apparent than in the candidates’ statements in the YDN. Herbert’s piece was titled “A new YCC for everyone.” Sara Miller’s ‘16 column, “It starts with us,” called for “transparent, democratic student government.” Motzkin, the runner-up to Herbert, titled her statement “Bringing YCC to you,” and lamented the fact that many students didn’t know who their YCC representatives were.

    The only candidate with a significantly different platform—and the only candidate with Executive Board experience—was Ackerman, who wrote about the YCC’s need for executive power over University policy. Despite being the candidate with the most YCC experience, Ackerman finished fourth with 17% of the vote.

    The election became a referendum on the YCC’s relationship to Yale students, with rhetoric sometimes veering into personal attacks on Danny Avraham, the face of the YCC and —fairly or unfairly—the search committee decision.

    But many affiliated with the YCC do not believe the search committee controversy had a significant impact on the elections or on candidates’ decisions to run. Avraham, Gonzalez and Grass all suggest that the urgency of issues like mental health reform and financial aid contributed to the open field and the resurgence of student interest. If anything, Avraham says, the controversy discouraged people from running.

    “There were some people who were very interested in that issue,” Grass says, “but I think overall the real focus on the campaigns stemmed a lot from the fact that there were a lot of people running who had some different platforms and some different ideas.”

    Herbert and Stern disagree. Stern believes that the search committee controversy played a “huge” role in shaping the themes of the election, and he points to the similarities between candidate statements as evidence — similarities that other theories about the election don’t explain.

    “All four [candidates] ran on the same platform,” he says, “essentially an anti-Washington platform. And Michael Herbert won — he was the least affiliated with the YCC. He was literally not a part of the YCC.”

    That would never have happened, Stern thinks, had students not felt alienated from their supposed representatives.

    Both Stern and Avraham credit Herbert with understanding students’ perceptions of the YCC. YCC members weren’t student leaders, Herbert said—they were “student government enthusiasts.” And Herbert was uniquely positioned to deliver such a message. He says his outsider status helped him reach out to communities like Greek life and athletics, who have traditionally had little to do with student government.

    As to the search committee controversy, Herbert says, “I don’t think it hurt me.”

    Johnson, for one, was impressed. “I thought it was kind of cool,” he says “that in spite of all the people with a large amount of YCC experience, Michael Herbert just shows up saying ‘I’m here to be your friend as president’ and he wins.”

    The tongue-in-cheek moments of Herbert’s campaign, like a campaign video composed of snippets of Disney movies, represented a calculated effort to appear uncalculating. A perfect opposite to the image of the earnest, bureaucratic and insulated “student government enthusiast.”

    * * *

    The campaign’s populist theme helped some more than others. Ackerman thinks some saw him as exactly the kind of “institutional” candidate that Herbert stigmatized, and he concedes this may have hurt his campaign. But he thinks Herbert’s focus on engaging students might have come at the expense of substance.

    “I thought Michael Herbert’s campaign was more limited in its appeal to the issues,” he says, pointing out that despite it being a key issue in his campaign, Herbert never offered a clear policy proposal regarding sexual assault.

    But Ackerman says that this won’t undermine Herbert’s term. Rather, he thinks that the biggest question facing the new president will be whether he maintains the enthusiasm he generated during the campaign, especially among groups unfamiliar with the YCC. Ackerman says it’s been tried before.

    Like so many YCC Presidents before him, however, Herbert believes that this time will be different. Among the innovations backing his claim is the Pulse addition to the Yale Mobile app, which Herbert says is ready for deployment “as soon as they need it.” Pulse will allow the YCC to poll students in real time. Herbert is quick to point out that the app could have alleviated much of the controversy over the search committee.

    He and Eliscovich also plan on having weekly dinners with leaders from various campus communities: the editors-in-chief of student publications, sports captains, college council presidents and other. Herbert plans to hold office hours in a different residential college each week, something he says past YCC presidents haven’t done.

    If he maintains the broad enthusiasm he generated during the campaign, Herbert could have formidable student backing when taking proposals on mental health reform, sexual assault and gender-neutral housing to the administration. He says that while mental health is up first, as a YCC report on the topic has already been completed, sexual assault was a key issue in his campaign and a personally important one.

    Yet probably the biggest difference is the new constitution that Herbert will work under—a constitution drafted by the predecessors whose public image he exploited to win the presidency.  Herbert does take pains to acknowledge his debts to the 2013-’14 YCC for drafting the new document, but he might owe them his office as well.

    Ultimately, with a new president, a new constitution and maybe a new reputation, the YCC is poised to take on a more pronounced—and hopefully more positive—role in the day-to-day lives of Yale students. Even Stern is cautiously optimistic.

    “It’s going to be different,” he says, “which I think can only be good.”


    Contact David Whipple at


  2. The YCC Candidates Who Really Matter

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    Which of these candidates will lead us through our Most Important Bright College Years? We are the company of scholars, the mighty Bulldog! We deserve a leader — heck, we deserve several. One who speaks our language. One who joins the numbers. One who understands true beauty. Polls close tonight at 9 p.m: quick, let it go, the aesthetic character of Cross Campus is at stake!

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    Don’t you dislike one-man elections? Don’t you think they decrease the legitimacy of the institution at stake? The saying goes, “Vote or DIE!” but here at WEEKEND, we just cannot take the Yale College Council elections seriously this year. We were hoping for the first female YCC president in recent memory, or a Brandon Levin ’14 surprise bid. Instead, we got three uncontested races. What. The. Fuck. So long, healthy competition. So long, government by the people. For the sake of democracy, though, here’s our list of potential candidates for the YCC presidential election. No, but actually — consider these honest contenders! Read their candidacy statements, “like” them on Facebook, tell your YCC representative to include these four names in the ballot. WE WILL NOT STAND FOR TYRANNY!

    Caleb Madison’s Super Awesome Presidential Platform Just For YOU!


    Hey, you! Yes you, reading this right now. I want to introduce you to a cool new candidate for YCC president. This person is awesome, cool, funny and smart. Sounds like the perfect candidate, right? I bet you can’t wait to meet this person. Good news: You don’t have to wait, because you can see this person right now. Take out your iPhone, open up your camera app and press the twisty camera icon on the top-right corner. That’s right. The candidate is you.

    The Constitution once said, “We the People!” The Gettysburg Address once said, “Of the people, by the people, for the people!” These famous American words are why I am running for YCC president. I believe that normal, everyday Americans like you, me, or an autistic man with a heart of gold and a passion for ping-pong can truly make a difference in people’s lives. Yale is a perfect place, and everyone here is so wise, amazing and talented. I wish everyone could be YCC president!!!! But they can’t. 🙁 That’s why I’m running for YCC president: for you.

    I’ve always wanted to have a leadership position in my college student government because I’m selfless. First and foremost, I want people and my friends to be happy. If I were YCC president, I would organize fun events around campus so that everyone was happy. Still not happy after all the events I’ve organized? Send me an email at my email address, and I will make you happy! After all, that’s why I’m running for YCC president in the first place: you. I’m coming to YOUR dorm and talking to YOU about why I’d be a great president. I’m inviting YOU to a million Facebook events about voting for me. I’m taking pictures of YOU with a sign that has my name on it. So when you have the ballot in front of you next Thursday, whom are you going to vote for? Someone else who isn’t you? Or yourself? I think the answer is clear.

    Yasmine Hafiz for YCC President: An Advocate for Riotous Chilling


    Does anyone really give a fuck about academic minors at Yale? I’m currently on the senior thesis strugglebus and have neither the time nor the inclination to have another random title on my diploma, a document which will probably vanish into the recesses of my grandmother’s basement along with the other things she likes to save and hoard for posterity — a collection of molded straw hats, photos in slide form and various other knickknacks.

    In addition to the academic minor pointlessness, my opponent’s platform apparently includes restoring reading week, making the YCC “stronger and more relevant” on campus, and overhauling alcohol policy. As a super-senior I have three things to say: Reading week/fall break is for drinking, YCC doesn’t matter, and when it comes to alcohol, always eat dinner first.

    So here’s my suggestion for the betterment of Yale. It’s fucking nice outside, so everyone should be hanging out and chilling in the sunshine, preferably with some music and a beer or two. No matter how stressed you are, stop procrastinating with Netflix and messing around on your computer and GO OUTSIDE.

    In order to push this initiative forward, I have created the Picnic Panlist. Our manifesto and welcome message is below. If you can figure out the new Google Groups situation, then you are welcome to join us. Let the riotous chilling begin!

    “Welcome to the Picnic Panlist. You are receiving this invitation because you have either attended/expressed interested in picnics. Messages will be sent out to alert members when picnics are occurring (usually on Cross Campus). Message the group if you are organizing a picnic of your own, but please DO NOT SPAM!

    ‘A picnic is a pleasure excursion at which a meal is eaten outdoors (al fresco or en plein air), ideally taking place in a beautiful landscape such as a park, beside a lake or with an interesting view and possibly at a public event such as before an open air theatre performance, and usually in summer.’ — From the Wikipedia entry on picnics.

    See you soon for drinking and sunbathing! If you would like to be removed from this panlist please email me.

    For a Clean Candidacy


    Hello. My name is Yuval Ben-David, and I am running for president.

    Listen closely. Do you hear the stirrings of a 2032 White House campaign?

    No, you don’t. Kids, I’m not just using this as a stepping-stone to greater things. There are no greater things out there. This is it, the endgame: Yale College Council.

    I’m not one of those vest-wearing brats who’s just gonna write about this on his “Grand Strategy” app. Nuh-no. I’m clean. I’m moral. I’m so dedicated to the YCC I read the salad dressing reports.

    Speaking of which, that last one was a little short, don’t you think? (See what I did there? I asked you a question. I invited you to a “public discussion” about pressing issues. Democracy comes naturally to me!) Anyways, Mr. Gonzalez, I’d have really appreciated news on whether the blue cheese dressing is compatible with my gluten-free, macrobiotic diet.

    I’m not going to make cheap promises, but allow me to outline some ideas:

    1. Expand the alcohol “safety first” policy to marijuana. Under my command, the YCC will work aggressively to supply parties with pure, untainted medical marijuana. It’s ethical, too! No more of that blood-diamond Mexican stuff.

    2. Work with Blue State to introduce a platinum membership for those of you who squat there, like me. (Perks will include preferred access to the comfy chairs.)

    3. Send the Mafia after the folks at U.S. News and World Report who ranked Yale third.

    4. Work with President-elect Salovey to find the most tactful way to avoid an athletic recruitment policy.

    5. Expand grade inflation. You’re all above average. Ubermenschen, really. Way, way above average.

    Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America.

    Dear Leader: The eternally glorious hero Yale deserves


    To the Comrades of what will henceforth be correctly referred to as the Democratic People’s University of Yale (DPUY):

    This Thursday, in a landslide election enacted by you, the loving Comrades, WEEKEND will take its rightful place as the Dear Leader* of the YCC, henceforth known as the Supreme Undergraduate Assembly (SUA).

    As the hero responsible for single-handedly releasing Comrades from the oppressive yoke of the inferior Communists at Harvard, as well as establishing the DPUY in 1701, WEEKEND’s assumption of this title is not only deserved, but three centuries late.

    As restitution for this late acknowledgment of WEEKEND’s birthright and to maintain the happiness and superiority of all Comrades, the following resolutions will be put into effect immediately:

    1.     All media will be condensed under WEEKEND’s umbrella, with the exception of the communistic Rumpus, whose current staff will have the honor of serving as the practice run for resolution 5 (see below).

    2.     The “$10K Challenge” will be officially renamed the “$10K Celebration of Our Heavenly Leader,” to be used every year for the purpose of honoring the deserving WEEKEND. This year, those funds will be used to correct the statues on Old Campus from the defectors Nathan Hale, Theodore Dwight Woolsey and Abraham Pierson to appropriate likenesses of the Dear Leader.

    3.     Once a year, all Comrades will feel a powerful compulsion to pay homage to their Dear Leader by making a pilgrimage to the Dear Leader’s birthplace (202 York St.).

    4.     All musical and performing arts groups will be condensed into the Company for the Adoration of Our Dear Leader. They will spend the whole year rehearsing for the annual Mass Games — a replacement of the communistic glorification of outsiders known as “Spring Fling” — for the purpose of celebrating our Dear Leader’s role in the glorious establishment of the superior DPUY.

    5.     Ezra Stiles, Morse, Silliman and Timothy Dwight colleges will be restructured into re-education and rehabilitation camps for Comrades who fall out of line with any of the aforementioned resolutions.

    All glory to the Dear Leader’s eternal reign over the DPUY!

    *Alternative acceptable prefaces for the title “Leader” are any combination of the adjectives “Heavenly,” “Grand” and “Eternal.”

  4. FOREIGN DISPATCH: The Irony Behind Kenya's Elections

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    This is the latest piece in Kiki Ochieng’s WKND BLOG column, exploring matters of political and international import beyond polls and borders. Watch her introduction to her writing series and focus here.

    At 50 years old, Kenya is a young country. But it is a nation that has been groomed as the precocious child of East Africa. For decades, Western nations like the United States saw Kenya as a bulwark of stability in the oft-turbulent region.

    The 2007 election shattered that picture. Back then, multiparty elections had just been introduced to the country’s political system. That change, in combination with voting along ethnic lines and an institutionalized culture of corruption, led to a disputed electoral race between the incumbent, Mwai Kibaki, and Raila Odinga, formerly of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). After Kibaki allegedly manipulated the election results, disgruntled Odinga supporters took to the streets with their grievances. Those initial protests were followed by ethnic violence, primarily between members of the Luo, Kikuyu and Kalenjin tribes — and the resultant deaths of thousands, not to mention massive internal displacement. With this background of violence and tribalism, Western audiences waited with bated breath to see if last month’s Kenyan elections would have a similarly bloody outcome.

    As far as we can tell, it has not. Soon after the 2007 election violence, top diplomats from across the globe — including then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, then-United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and then-East African Community Secretary-General Juma Mwapachu — arrived in Kenya to help organize negotiations for a transitional government. In 2010, the nation adopted a new constitution which including provisions for a more decentralised political system, the creation of a second chamber of parliament and a land commission to settle past and present land disputes. These political steps forward and the International Criminal Court’s decision to indict the “Ocampo Six” appeased international observers and looked like symbols of Kenya’s commitment to justice. Although technological glitches with the electronic voting systems led Odinga to contest the results of the election, Kenya’s Supreme Court has upheld Kenyatta as the rightful victor. Notwithstanding small bouts of violence in Kiberia and Kisumu, the election has gone smoothly.

    Except for one tiny detail:  the group of people to be tried by the ICC for their involvement in the post-election violence of 2007 includes current President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta, who was just sworn in yesterday, and his running mate, William Ruto. In an ironic twist, despite their current political alliance, the two are accused of organizing attacks on each other’s ethnic groups following the 2007 election. In spite of the fact that Kenyatta’s legal woes were well-known to the Kenyan and international communities at the time of the election, the situation did not seem to faze this year’s voters — Kenyatta won 50.07% of the vote.

    Many African nations have long looked at the ICC with an air of disdain, arguing that the court unjustly stigmatizes Africans. For the ICC, the Kenyan case is the ultimate prize. No longer will the court be relegated to simply prosecuting war criminals. With the trials of the Ocampo Six, the ICC stands to acquire a significant amount of legitimacy.

    That is, if Kenyans will let them.

    In 2010, the Kenyan parliament voted to withdraw Kenya from the Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the ICC. Key witnesses dropped out of trials. Since then, Kenyatta’s case has become the first case to be tried by the ICC without the accused in custody. And back home, Kenyatta’s ICC trial seems to have only helped him politically, as millions of Kenyans are willing to stand up in support of his claims of innocence.

    Although countries like the United States and the United Kingdom have issued vague warnings about the political consequences of electing a candidate like Kenyatta, most major Western democracies have congratulated President-elect Kenyatta on his victory. A precarious game of chess is being played in order to balance Western interests in Kenya with the desire to support the ICC’s mission. Yet in the acknowledgment that Kenya is a vital key power player in the war on terror and the congratulations being issued to Kenyatta, the West may implicitly acknowledge that it needs Kenya no matter its moral qualms — and Kenya, as a developing country, still needs the West.

  5. After Election Day, Yalies dominate government

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    As President Barack Obama takes one more term in Washington, D.C., more than a dozen Yale alums are also headed for political office.

    The night saw a victory for many Yale graduates in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown ’74 (D) was re-elected to the Senate and Rhode Island Congressman Sheldon Whitehouse ’78 (D) also became a senator. Other Yale alums re-elected included Congressman Lamar Smith ’69 (R) from Texas and Congressman John Yarmuth ’69 (D) from Kentucky, as well as incumbent Senators Amy Klobuchar ’82 (D) of Minnesota and Bill Nelson ’65 (D) of Florida.

    Other alumni returning to Congress include Tom Cole GRD ’74 (R) of Oklahoma, Lois Capps GRD ’64 (D) of California and Eleanor Holmes Norton GRD ’64 (D), the District of Columbia’s nonvoting House delegate. David Price ’64, GRD ’69 (D) and Mel Watt LAW ’70 (D) — both of North Carolina — will also join Congress.

    New members of the House of Representatives include Ron DeSantis ’01 (R) of Florida and Elizabeth Etsy LAW ’85 (D). Etsy, representing Connecticut, defeated fellow Yale alum Andrew Roraback ’83 to clinch the seat.

    Yale alumni were also successful outside of Washington, D.C. Jack Dalrymple ’70 (R) was reelected the governor of North Dakota.

    And though results from Alaska’s House of Representatives race have not yet been confirmed, Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins — a Yale student who took a break in 2011 to work on a writing project in Alaska before running as a district representative — was narrowly in the lead as of Wednesday morning.

    Go Bulldogs!

  6. TTL: Scenes from Election Day 2012

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    Yale Daily News reporters and photographers snapped photos documenting Election Day 2012 on campus and in Chicago, Ill.; Boston, Mass.; Hartford, Conn. and Stamford, Conn.

    [showcase id=”28″]

  7. New legislation sweeps states

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    Last night, voters across 38 states expressed their opinions on more than 176 pieces of legislation. From the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Massachusetts, Colorado and Washington to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Maine and Maryland, Election Day saw sweeping changes in the laws of several states.

    Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the production, sale and possession of recreational marijuana, and Massachusetts legalized medical marijuana. Under the law in Massachusetts, patients with a doctor’s prescription can get up to 60 days’ worth of recreational marijuana. With half of the precincts reporting, 63 percent of voters in Massachusetts had voted in favor of decriminalizing the drug.

    Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper expressed mixed reactions to the decriminalization of marijuana, noting that the drug’s consumption is still a federal offense.

    “Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly,” he said in a statement. Nov. 6 also saw another first: Two states — Maryland and Maine — passed measures to back same-sex marriage.

    Proposition 34 in California — which seeks to abolish the death penalty — is falling behind in early returns, as of 1 a.m. EST Wednesday morning. 56.2 percent of voters had voted no to the proposition by Tuesday night, while 43.8 percent of voters had voted yes.

  8. UPDATED: Obama re-elected, Dems control Senate

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    After a long campaign, President Barack Obama was reelected to a second term on Tuesday.

    Major news networks — including NBC, Fox News and CNN — called the election shortly after 11:15 p.m. after Obama was projected to win Iowa and Ohio, putting him over the required 270 electoral votes to return to the White House.

    Although Republican candidate Gov. Mitt Romney continues to lead in the popular vote, major networks have projected that the votes of Western states such as California, which are yet to be counted, will put Obama above Romney.

    “Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests,” President Obama said in a statement on his campaign website.

    As Obama supporters at his campaign headquarters in Chicago and across the country celebrated, networks have already started discussing the challenges the president will face in his second term, including a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a highly polarized nation.

    “President Obama got one of the rarest things we get in politics and in life: a second chance,” CNN analyst Alex Castellanos said.

    In line with Obama’s victory, Democrats were projected to maintain control of the Senate, winning races in Connecticut, Virginia and Missouri. Democrat Chris Murphy defeated Linda McMahon for Joe Lieberman’s ’64 LAW ’67 Senate seat.

    In addition, Democrat Elizabeth Esty beat out Republican Andrew Roraback to clinch the congressional seat in Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District. Roraback conceded the election shortly after 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

  9. Murphy beats McMahon in Senate race

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    Democratic Congressman Chris Murphy defeated Republican rival McMahon in Connecticut’s Senate race to become the state’s new Senator-elect.

    The Associated Press reported Murphy’s victory at 8:30 Tuesday night, settling one of the most closely-watched Senate races in the country, as it may determine majority control in the Senate. The battle between Murphy and McMahon proved to be one of the most expensive as total campaigning expenditures hit $61.6 million by late October — McMahon spent $42.6 million on her campaign and Murphy raised over $9 million for his cause.

    Democrats spent $10 million in independent disbursements in the effort to maintain majority control of the Senate.

    Connecticut voters were able to cast their ballots at all polling venues in the state beginning this morning. Electricity had returned to all remaining powerless locations by Nov. 5 following Hurricane Sandy.

    Murphy will be the successor of the retiring independent Senator Joe Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67.

  10. DeLauro takes Conn. third district

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    Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who represents New Haven in the House of Representatives, retained her congressional seat by a wide margin Tuesday, beating out motivational speaker Wayne Winsley with 9 percent of precincts reporting at 9:05 p.m.

    DeLauro first arrived in Congress in 1991 after working as the chief of staff for former Senator Chris Dodd as well as serving as executive director of EMILY’s List, an organization that funds female candidates.

    After winning her first election with 52 percent of the vote, DeLauro has never received less than 63 percent of the vote in an election.

    “We feel energized by today,” DeLauro campaign manager Jimmy Tickey said Tuesday afternoon, adding that he thought high turnout numbers throughout the district helped DeLauro.

    DeLauro, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, is considered one of the most liberal members in Congress.

  11. UPDATED: Election Day Dispatches


    Read some on-the-ground dispatches from Chicago, Ill.; Boston, Mass; and New Haven, Conn. as the News covers Election Day 2012.

    NEW HAVEN 11:18 p.m. — Students studying in Bass Library hear a message over the loudspeaker: “May I have your attention, please? The president has been re-elected.”

    CHICAGO 11:18 p.m. — After a bitterly-fought campaign centered around President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy and the size of government, he has just been re-elected. Here at McCormack Place in Chicago, Ill., attendees are jumping arm-in-arm, and journalists are scrambling to hear and be heard. Several minutes ago, the president’s motorcade was seen on television headed toward the convention center, and the crowd is slowly quieting — if only relatively — in anticipation of his appearance. The campaign plays “Twist and Shout,” originally written by Phil Medley and Bert Russell and covered by The Beatles. But the screaming is deafening. — Michelle Hackman from Chicago, Ill.

    CHICAGO 11:05 p.m. — Signs so far are pointing to a good night for the attendees of this Obama “victory watch” party, with several Democrats prevailing in tight Senate races across the country and major battleground states swinging for the president. The latest electoral count, 238-191 in favor of Obama, drowned out the music blaring in the background. The pre-programmed stream was just also interrupted to broadcast Massachusetts Senator-Elect Elizabeth Warren’s acceptance speech. — Michelle Hackman from Chicago, Ill.

    CHICAGO 9:36 p.m. — About 20,000 lucky ticket-holders have now made their way into the McCormack Convention Center, where President Obama’s “victory” watch party is well under way. While numbers blare in the background on a six-way split screen, the audience is being treated to a prepared video featuring remarks by President Barack Obama, the First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as musical guests No Doubt, Bruce Springstein and Florence and The Machine. When the president said in the video, “If you’ve still got hope, I’m asking for your vote,” the crowd went wild. — Michelle Hackman from Chicago, Ill.

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    BOSTON 9:21 p.m. — Earlier this evening, Craig Romney gave a speech at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to attendees at presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Election Night campaign event, saying that although “a lot of people thought this election was a foregone conclusion,” Romney’s campaign was vital and important for the country.

    Upstairs and downstairs at the Center, people stand in huddled groups, discussing the elections returns being broadcast from a mix of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. Campaign volunteer Rocco Giodano told the News that Romney’s election headquarters in Boston was full of energy as staffers believed the election would be close.

    “I think in general, since it’s such a close race, there’s just a lot of hope,” Giodana said.

    The energy has been positive throughout, said one attendee from Texas, who added that the majority of people he spoke with believed there was a chance of victory. Conversations have revolved around Florida and Ohio, he added. — Cynthia Hua from Boston, Mass.

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    CHICAGO 6:28 p.m. — When asked about how he thought President Obama has changed in the past four years, Hyde Park resident Ray Bailey, 76, laughed and joked that the biggest change was that his “hair got a lot grayer.”

    But Ishmael Coye, one of the owners of the Hyde Park Hair Salon on South Blackstone Avenue in Hyde Park, has noticed President Obama’s hair much longer before his first term as president. One of the owners of the barber shop President Obama regularly frequented from 1992 up until he was elected president in 2008, Coye said that his barber shop is now famous because of President Obama’s patronage.

    “We’d talk about what sports teams he liked and the teams he thought were going to make it to playoffs, but never politics,” Coye said. “He’s really connected to the common person.”

    However, Zariff (who goes by just his first name), President Obama’s personal barber through all these years, was nowhere to be found in the shop: he is out today so he can give President Obama a haircut some time today, said Coye.

    To the unsuspecting outside observer, the barber shop looks like it’s actually closed tonight — the glass walls are covered in brown paper and one of the only visible signs is a sign supporting Obama’s re-election campaign. But inside, Coye and his family and friends are bustling around putting up lights and setting up a viewing party that he said will last nearly all night long, where they will later be joined by Zariff after he is finished giving the president his haircut. — Diana Li from Chicago, Ill.

    CHICAGO 5:07 p.m. — Eight years later, members of the Catholic Theological Union proudly remember when Barack Obama cast his vote in the 2004 election at their polling station on South Cornell Avenue in Hyde Park. Obama won the Senate election that year and resigned when he became president in 2008.

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    “We love the fact that for a while at least, and maybe still now, the president has a photo on the credenza in back of his desk in the Oval Office of him coming out of the doors of the Catholic Theological Union [after having voted],” said Scott Alexander, associate professor of Islam at the Catholic Theological Union.

    Melissa Mickey, who has lived in Hyde Park since the late 1960s, said she was present when Obama voted in the 2004 election at the Catholic Theological Union, adding that she could feel the “electricity.” She recounted one of Obama’s young daughters constantly asking her mother when they could finally leave the polling station.

    Meanwhile, back at the Catholic Theological Union, receptionist Harrietta Holloway also mentioned her admiration of Michelle Obama.

    “Mrs. Obama is fantastic, and I wish she were President instead: I like her elegance and her strong womanhood, and she has an ‘I can take care of myself’ attitude. I see the power in her,” Holloway said.

    “After all, behind every powerful man is a woman.” — Diana Li from Chicago, Ill.

    NEW HAVEN 4:48 p.m. — The line around the New Haven Free Public Library is still over an hour long, snaking around the corner and doubling up inside the building. Students huddle together for warmth as they read magazines, play with their phones and chat. Ward 1 Alderwoman Sarah Eidelson ’12 takes this opportunity to pass out a newsletter and meet her constituents. She says she has been there since 6 a.m., when the polls opened, and will likely remain so until they close at 8 p.m.

    CHICAGO 4:41 p.m. — In the Obama campaign office in Chicago’s Loop district, nearly 80 volunteers are squeezed into a small conference room. They’ve been here since the wee hours of the morning, noshing on sometimes cold pizza and calling voters in nearby swing states, like Iowa and Wisconsin.

    “We’re not just calling to ask if [voters] are voting,” one volunteer said. “We’re calling to help them make a plan to vote.”

    She added that it’s been this packed — sometimes even more so — for at least the past four days. And there’s another campaign office just a block away.

    When I asked the volunteer for her name, Sasha, a deputy field organizer, whisked me away. Apparently the press isn’t allowed to distract volunteers from their Get-Out-The-Vote efforts. — Michelle Hackman from Chicago, Ill.

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    CAMBRIDGE 4:08 p.m. — Undergraduates on Harvard campus have been active in encouraging each other to vote via Facebook today, according to four students interviewed outside Quincy Hall. The online buzz mostly consists of students reminding each other to vote in a nonpartisan manner, said junior Christina Russell, despite the fact that the campus leans heavily toward the more liberal candidates, Democrat Elizabeth Warren for Senate and President Barack Obama.

    Sophomore Dan Fitzpatrick said various political groups and residential houses on Harvard campus are hosting elections returns viewing parties tonight. But junior Tim Barry-Heffernan noted that “it’s still midterm season, so I imagine most [students] will watch on their computers.”

    Fitzpatrick, who is a Republican, told the News that he feels “a bit lonely” as a conservative on a largely liberal campus.

    “If the election goes Romney’s way tonight, it’s going to be a sad and angry campus,” Fitzpatrick said.

    As of 3:06 p.m., 391 people had voted at Harvard’s Quincy Hall voting poll site, said election official Nancy Aiguier. — Cynthia Hua from Cambridge, Mass.

    BOSTON 3:28 p.m. — Bars across Boston are preparing cocktails and “binders full of women” jokes for a night they say will be full of election fever.

    Blue Inc., a bar in city’s financial district, is selling “Libertini” and “kick-ass” cocktails for Republicans and Democrats, respectively. The ‘Libertini’ consists of stoli sticky, blue curacao, basil and sour, and the ‘kick-ass’ has tequila, red sangria and domaine de canton.

    Near Harvard, the bar Upstairs on the Square created an entire election menu in preparation for tonight and will be selling glasses of wine from their binder. Food items include “Green Party Pizza,” “Red Cook Right Wing Chicken Wings” and “PBS Smoked Big bBrd.”

    The general manager, reflecting on a similar election party in 2008 said, “It was a lot of joy, a lot of happiness. You couldn’t get a seat in here.” He said he hopes this will make for another memorable night.

    And hey, if you’re celebrating the election at Yale, you may want to make yourself a Libertini or a kick-ass. — Monica Disare from Boston, Mass.

    CHICAGO 2:20 p.m. — Customers at Valois, an eatery on 53rd Street, are greeted by a colorful red, white and blue menu titled “President Obama’s Favorites” upon entering the restaurant. The eatery is packed today and a sign on the door warns people that the restaurant is being covered by media all day long.

    Before Barack Obama became Senator Obama or President Obama, he was a regular at Valois. He still comes back occasionally, and last came six months ago, according to owner Spiro Argiris.

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    “Bo knows the economy. Bo knows foreign policy. Bo knows what the Americans want. Who is Bo?” asked Michael Sullivan, 50, who has lived in Chicago all his life. “It ain’t Bo Jackson — it’s Barack Obama!”

    “He needs more time, more time,” added Corneal Crumpton, a Chicago resident who said the city was “sinking” before Obama showed up.

    Four years just wasn’t enough, he said. And as the restaurant buzzed with conversations about Election Day, there was no hint of any nervousness or concern regarding the outcome of tonight’s election.

    “You know what it feels like? It feels like Christmas,” Sullivan laughed. — Diana Li from Chicago, Ill.

    CHICAGO 2:18 p.m. — Even in President Obama’s hometown — ground zero of Obama enthusiasm — the voters at this bustling polling place on West Washington Ave. are expressing mixed feelings about a second term for the incumbent candidate. Three voters in a row file out and proudly pronounce their votes for Romney.

    “[Obama’s] getting nothing, nowhere. He just wants four more years to get a paycheck,” said Amy Mitchem. “He’s doing it for his own good! He wants money money money.”

    Mitchem added that, in her view, Romney is not running for personal gain “because he has enough money already.”

    But Valery Simanduyev, a taxi driver in the Hide Park area, disagrees. Simanduyev moved to Chicago from the Soviet Union 25 years ago, and he knows a real socialist when he sees one. Obama isn’t socialist, he told me — he just cares about poor people.

    “In Germany, in Canada, in Israel, nobody pay for the doctors, nobody pay for the hospital! Here’s the only country where you have to pay for visit to emergency room,” he said.

    I asked Simanduyev what he would do in case of a Romney Victory.

    “I would drink,” he said, without missing a beat. — Michelle Hackman from Chicago, Ill.

    CHICAGO 12:50 p.m. — Hyde Park resident Roxane Friedman showed up to Kenwood High School today to submit her vote, just as she did four years ago, only to find that the site was no longer a polling station.

    After looking online, she realized that her correct polling site was the United Church of Hyde Park on 53rd Street, and went there instead. Redistricting earlier this year changed the polling locations for a number of voters, and although they were all sent updated voter registration cards with the addresses of their polling sites, people still are showing up to the wrong places to vote.

    “Everyone got those voter registration cards but people rarely look at them, and it’s been a bit of a shock for a lot of people,” said Sharon Harris, an election judge at the church. “Some people come to vote before work and need to get voting out of the way, and it’s an issue.”

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    People who showed up to the church that were not registered as being in the precinct were asked to either fill out a provisional ballot or go to their correct polling site. According to election judge Rosalee Atkins, the Board of Elections will ultimately decide whether to accept these provisional ballots.

    Hyde Park resident Carol Banks said her polling location also changed, and said that she noticed people facing confusion regarding their correct polling site. Banks, who used to be able to vote in the building she lived in, had to travel elsewhere to cast her vote this year.

    As of noon today, five people have filled out provisional ballots at the polling center in the United Church of Hyde Park on 53rd Street, according to Atkins. — Diana Li from Chicago, Ill.

    NEW HAVEN 12:44 p.m — The line to vote at the New Haven Free Public Library is over an hour long, according to one student waiting to vote.

    Meanwhile, Atticus is giving away free bread to those with an “I Voted” sticker. Go vote and enjoy the taste of democracy!

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    BOSTON 12:28 p.m. — “I’m voting for Romney along with about 90 percent of my friends upstairs,” said a Boston banker taking a break from work at the Starbucks on the first floor of his building. Kevin Kouhig, a Romney supporter who came up from Louisiana, agreed that Romney is the right presidential pick. He said from a business perspective, the country is “broke” and he fears for our generation if Obama is reelected.

    Romney love was also prevalent at the small businesses in Boston’s North End, an Italian section full of food and coffee shops only a few blocks from his headquarters. “You’d be surprised, you’ll see more Republicans here,” said Albe Alba, the owner of a fruit shop packed with cucumbers, pumpkins and apples. — Monica Disare from Boston, Mass.

    CHICAGO 11:26 a.m. — The Starbucks on 53rd and South Harper Ave., in Obama’s hometown of Hyde Park, Chicago, is giving out free bracelets with the slogan “Let’s Create Jobs for USA” printed on the cardboard packaging in celebration of Election Day.

    “Excitement here is even higher [than in 2008],” said Nicole Russell, a barista at the Starbucks. “Everyone’s waiting to see the outcome. Is Obama going to be re-elected, or is Romney going to get in there and mess everything up? We’ve gotta make sure we don’t have another Bush on our hands!”

    Nikki Bunnitt, a fellow barista, added that no one here has been disappointed by the president’s term, and that “everybody knows” that Illinois isn’t a swing state and is in full support of Obama.

    A customer not from Hyde Park asked her whether most people around here are supporting President Obama’s bid for re-election.

    “Well, you are in Hyde Park – this is Obama nation!” Russell shot back. — Diana Li from Chicago, Ill.

    NEW HAVEN 11:13 a.m. — The line to vote at the New Haven Free Public Library was over 45 minutes long and doubled back on itself twice. When a man working the polls suggested that Yalies return later in the day if they had classes coming up, several students took his advice and left. Others walked in, saw the line and immediately turned around. Several waiting voters joked that they were doing their “civic duty” by standing around for so long.

    When asked what time he had come to work at the polls, one student at the front desk said he had been there before 6 a.m., even though he was working on a problem set until 3 a.m. “For God, for Country, and for Yale, right?” he added with a smile. — Maya Averbuch from New Haven, Conn.

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    BOSTON 10:47 a.m. — While reading a copy of today’s election edition of the Boston Globe this morning, Gerald Selvin of Brookline, Mass. told the News that waiting times were long at polling stations this morning, adding that “tonight, it’s going to be chaos” when voters visit the polls after work. Wait times for voting ranged from 30 minutes to an hour, and lines went around the block at voting polls around Boston, according to four Massachusetts voters interviewed on the subway this morning. Boston resident Jeff Buchlochi said he believes the huge turnout is due to excitement over the state Senate race between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown rather than the presidential election.

    “[The high turnout] is typical of presidential election years, but the [hourlong] wait this morning was the longest I have ever experienced,” said Backbay resident Sheryl Carberry.

    Boston city officials have urged residents to vote during non-peak hours rather than in the morning and early evening to avoid congestion at polling stations. — Cynthia Hua from Boston, Mass.