My name is Christopher, and I’m a sophomore in Saybrook running to be your YCC Vice President. Over the past two years, I’ve served on the Freshman Class Council, the Saybrook College Council, and the Yale College Council and, at the same time, have been a member of two university standing committees: the Provost’s Online Education Committee and the Yale College Standing Committee for University Expansion. Through these multiple levels of student government, I’ve planned events that bring people together, advocated policy on behalf of the YCC, and examined large issues facing our university – and I believe that these experiences have uniquely positioned me to tackle the main problem facing the YCC: its lack of connection to Yale students.
The YCC has reached a point where it has lost touch with you, the very individuals who put its members into office. For one, the Executive Board communicates little with the student body, creating projects without soliciting student ideas and not keeping undergraduates updated on their progress. Meanwhile, representatives are not fulfilling one of their foremost constitutional mandates: to stay in constant communication with their residential colleges. The YCC has thus ignored the importance of staying accountable to the student body, a standard that we cannot accept.
However, given my active participation in the Saybrook College community, I understand the importance of accountability. And as Vice President – a role that manages the institution that is the Council – I will raise the standard of the YCC back to where it should be. I will push representatives to connect with their respective colleges; I will send out forms to request your suggestions for possible Council projects; and I will enforce the constitutionally required directive that the YCC publicize information on the status of its projects twice per year.
Finally, as Vice President, I would hope to inaugurate a new position on the YCC Executive Board solely devoted to listening to students: the Director of Student Outreach. This individual would not oversee projects but would rather serve as a liaison to undergraduate groups. Although the President and Vice President should certainly participate in this sort of engagement as well, they have countless other duties to attend to simultaneously, which has led some groups to be left behind over the years. Every voice deserves to be heard, and I strongly believe that it is the YCC’s duty to ensure that that happens.
Joe English and Maddie Bauer have accomplished a lot over the past few months, and I hope to advocate many of the same issues that they pushed for: Cr/D/F reform, more resources for the LGBTQ community, the eventual elimination of the student contribution, and more. However, the Council can only achieve such objectives when it works with students. If it doesn’t, students will continue to fall through the cracks, and the YCC will have lost its mandate. It has a duty to listen.
Expectations within the YCC have become too low. So let’s change them: let’s raise the standard.
The Vice President of the YCC serves as the Speaker of the Council of Representatives; ensures the Council’s efficiency, transparency, and productivity; nominates members of University Standing Committees; accompanies the YCC President to administrative meetings; and oversees the completion of all Council projects. As such, this individual should have expansive experience in all of these areas. Through my background in Yale student government, I believe that I am the most qualified candidate to fulfill these mandates.
Furthermore, given my unique involvement in the Yale College Standing Committee on University Expansion, I have been in the middle of conversations regarding the addition of North and South Colleges to our community in the fall of 2017. I know what the Council needs to achieve in order to ensure Yale’s continued success amidst an increase the student population, and I will create policy projects to realize just that.
Over the past two years, I have maintained constant connection with the Saybrook community. As Vice President, I will maintain constant connection with the Yale College community. I am prepared to advocate on your behalf, but I want to involve you in the process. A vote for Christopher is a vote for a YCC that works with students.
Although the YCC is meant to represent the interests of all Yalies, as an institution, it has left some groups behind over the years. The Director of Student Outreach would ensure that every student voice is heard by regularly meeting with undergraduate organizations on behalf of the Council and Executive Board.
Apart from the odd email about task forces or events, the YCC communicates almost nothing to students. It needs to bring back its mid-year and annual reports that highlight policy work from that year; work with the YDN to publicize current initiatives; and hold additional open forums to solicit student feedback.
Projects should be enacted based on student feedback but are instead arbitrarily chosen by members of the YCC Executive Board. As Vice President, I will solicit proposals from the student body at the beginning of each semester and ensure ways to do the same throughout the year.
Representatives are supposed to be voting on YCC proposals on behalf of their colleges but are too often inaccessible to their constituents. The YCC needs to reinstate its constitutional provision that representatives actively attend college council meetings and communicate with their dean and master.
Class Councils can play an integral role in Yale student life but are most successful when they have the resources to do so. I will maintain frequent communication with the leaders of these bodies so that YCC can help as needed, whether that’s institutionally, financially, or with events.
Sophomores suffer from a “middle-child syndrome” when it comes to seminar enrollment, often being left out of many small classes due to their academic status. A sophomore seminar program – not unlike the freshman one – would give sophomores their own unique opportunities to participate in small classes.
In its current state, the Ethnicity, Race, and Migration program cannot hire its own faculty. In order to strengthen this subject area, Yale must raise the curricular status of Ethnicity, Race, and Migration, an imperative that the creation of Yale’s new center on race, indigeneity, and transnational migration only enforces.
Students currently have until just after the midpoint of a semester to transition a class from Cr/D/Fail to the 4.0 scale. This gives them far too little time to decide whether or not to make the switch, especially since some professors release few to no grades by that point. Yale College should instead allow the changeover to occur in the last day of the term before reading week.
Shopping period is stressful enough for students without making them juggle seminar applications at the same time (especially since these applications often vary from professor to professor). Departments should clarify requirements for taking each of their seminars in advance of shopping period.
Many students never have the opportunity to review their final papers or exams even though these items typically make up the bulk of one’s coursework. Professors should allow for increased transparency in these grades, either returning final papers and exams outright or giving students more opportunities to look them over at the start of the following semester.
Thanks to a recent YCC proposal, instructors are now able to offer midterm evaluations via Classes*v2. However, every instructor should provide students with a forum for optional feedback at the halfway point of each course.
Lab courses take up an incredible amount of time in students’ schedules, from time in the class itself to hours outside class writing the reports. Since they are sometimes even more time-consuming than 1.0 credit classes, lab courses should count as a full credit rather than a half credit.
Language certificates are important indicators of the mastery of a particular language, which would give Yale students proof of advanced linguistic learning, an important consideration for many jobs or internships.
Because of a recent YCC proposal, many large departments have inaugurated undergraduate advisory committees to serve as ambassadors for each respective major. Departments should expand programming for these groups so that freshmen and sophomores who are deciding on a major know about this resource, and departments that do not currently have the program should implement it.
Financial aid underwent some change this year due to a Spring 2015 YCC task force, but Yale has far more to improve in terms of financial aid. It must eventually eliminate the student contribution but should also make smaller improvements in the meantime by reviewing its procedures for calculating financial aid awards, raising the on-campus minimum wage, and strengthening resources for students on financial aid to find summer opportunities.
Due to its location and lack of institutional support, the Office of LGBTQ Resources cannot always provide students with the resources and programs that they need. The university should give this office cultural house status so that it can play a more active role in the lives of LGBTQ students and allies.
Yale is a highly diverse place, but not all students understand the varying backgrounds of their peers. Freshmen should undergo diversity training during Camp Yale in which they would discuss everything from issues of race to those of socioeconomic status and beyond.
Yale currently covers up to just $10,500 of a study abroad for students on financial aid, a cap that puts a burden on students who cannot pay for certain opportunities beyond this price point. The university should apply their financial aid regulations to all study abroads to ensure that students on financial aid can participate in any study abroad that matches their interests.
Students only have three pre-orientation programs to participate in leading up to their freshman year, and recently some have capped out. In order to keep up with demand, Yale should offer more such programs and broaden the focus of these new programs in order to cater to a wider variety of interests.
Symplicity is an incredibly outdated website, and strict job deadlines only make navigating job and internship searches through the forum more difficult. OCS should allow students to opt into certain email notifications from Symplicity so that the website will notify students of deadlines and internship opportunities as they so desire.
An organizational body currently exists for sororities on campus, but fraternities have nothing similar. The YCC should help to facilitate the creation of such a council to increase communication among Greek organizations.
With this year’s Game at Harvard, Yale needs to make sure that as many of its students can attend the event as possible. The YCC should coordinate with the Athletic Department to plan transportation options, ensure widespread ticket distribution, and organize events in the weeks leading up to The Game.
So many events occur on campus that they’re sometimes hard to find and keep track of. A central events calendar would provide groups one accessible database to compile their programming on – everything from Master’s Teas to speaker series to cultural performances.
Despite recent reforms within Yale Mental Health and Counseling, reinstatement procedures are still too strict. Mental Health Counselors should work with Residential College Deans to create a more flexible process that better incorporates a student’s personal situation rather than applying a blanket policy to all students returning to Yale.
Students who are forced to withdraw from Yale have to reapply to the school in order to come back, providing letters of recommendation, a personal statement, demographic information, and more. Coming back to Yale should not add on stress for students and should certainly not require basically applying to the school a second time.
The university does not put enough attention on treating eating disorders across campus, and Yale Health needs to emphasize and bolster the resources that are available for students suffering from these issues.
Anyone who has visited Acute Care knows that even a simple trip can take sometimes two hours or more. The university needs to hire more practitioners for this department in order to keep up with demand and ensure that medical issues of any hour are given the attention that they need.
KBT Café currently offers a $4 breakfast swipe on weekdays between 7:30am and 10:30am. Given the importance of breakfast (and given that many students pay for breakfast yet never go to the dining hall for this meal), all Yale Dining business operations should offer a similar $4 breakfast swipe during this period of time.
Students who live off-campus pay almost as much for 14 meals/week and 150 dining points as students who live on-campus do for their 21 meals/week. Yale Dining should offer a more affordable plan for off-campus students that gives them the rightful food quantity for the cost charged.
Yale Dining offers bag lunches, but students who have tried to take advantage of this resource have not always had their expectations fulfilled. Yale should review this option as it currently stands and consider expanding grab-and-go meals from the dining hall to breakfast and/or dinner as well.
Let’s face it: the soup bowls are too small for salad.
Yale Dining offers the same (bland) vegan options over and over again. Yale Dining should diversify the foods that vegan students can choose from by adding more main dish protein options centered around tofu, legumes, quinoa, nuts, and the like.
Water fountains are rare on Yale’s campus, so students who use reusable water bottles have few places to refill such containers. Yale should install water stations in buildings that are lacking in water fountains, a move that could improve the university’s sustainability at the same time.
New Haven’s location makes it relatively inaccessible to international airport travel, and shuttle services as they stand are unreliable to say the least. Yale should help its students to better access airports by redirecting some of its shuttles to nearby airports at the start and end of breaks.
Sexual assault is a problem across the nation, and it’s a problem at Yale. This task force would tackle the issue head on by reviewing how the University-Wide Committee (UWC) and other on-campus reporting mechanisms handle sexual misconduct cases and find ways to improve them. The complainant must always be in control during these processes, and we must be sure that every Yale student and faculty and staff member is aware of the systems of support available to them from the day that they step on campus.
Low-income students do not currently have enough support systems on campus. The YCC must undergo a comprehensive investigation into ways to ensure that all students have the resources to thrive at Yale. This task force would work on developing a peer liaison program for low-income students, strengthening socio-economic diversity training, and better publicizing resources that are available now.
Freshman counselors (FroCos) play an invaluable role in the lives of first-year students, and all freshmen deserve a positive experience with their freshman counselor. This task force would ensure that this vital program is delivering all that it can to freshmen, that freshman counselor training is sufficiently comprehensive, and that freshman counselors stay engaged with their first-year students throughout the entire year.
Christopher Bowman for YCC Vice President