I’m running to be your next Vice President of the Yale College Council because I know that I have direct experience with the issues that the YCC needs to address and faith in the YCC as an organization, and this will help me lead the it to work in implementing real change.
One of the main pillars of my campaign is financial aid award letter reform. As a first-generation, low-income student, it’s inconvenient and stressful when the award letter I receive early in summer shows an expected family contribution of 0, but my term bill in the fall says otherwise. I’m a seasoned Yalie, so I know what to expect now, but for first-years unfamiliar with the process, when award letters show categories like textbooks and travel expenses, I’m sure many of them believe that they are directly receiving aid for those categories. In reality, the money earned during a term-time job is what is expected to be used for these items. While the Yale College Council has been working to eliminate the student income contribution for years, and I will continue efforts to make sure that the administration knows we haven’t forgotten about it, I recognize that it may still take some waiting. So in the meantime, I’m pushing for greater clarity on award letters that clearly state how much aid is being given, and how much each student will be expected to pay directly to Yale. This will eliminate any confusion around financial aid, and students won’t be blindsided by a bill that doesn’t match their award letter.
Students at Yale have also expressed dissatisfaction with the mental health resources available to them, with many citing exorbitant wait times to see a clinician at Yale Health Mental Health & Counseling. That’s why I’m proposing clinician open office hours, where clinicians will come to central campus, and students with non-urgent issues can talk to them without feeling intimidated by walking into Yale Health, and students who really need to see a clinician will have shorter wait times. I also want to ensure that mental health clinicians receive necessary diversity training in order to effectively serve and understand all members of the Yale community, regardless of background.
Additionally, we are facing a very unhealthy and unsafe sexual climate, with many sexual assaults going unreported because students didn’t think it was necessary, or they were afraid to speak up. By partnering with Yale’s Communication and Consent Educators program, I want to implement regulations where all large-scale parties hosted by organizations must have at least two sober CCEs onsite who are unaffiliated with the party hosts. They will be looking out for any issues, and if necessary, they will intervene and hopefully prevent sexual misconduct. The CCE program currently has a Greek program in which each fraternity has its own CCEs, but I believe that this program would be more effective if the CCEs were not associated with the fraternities. People should be able to feel safe when they go out, and this policy will contribute to a healthier party culture.
Not only do I want to implement large-scale policies like the ones I’ve mentioned, but I also have a couple in mind that will serve to make students’ lives easier. The first is a personal finance handbook written by the YCC’s University Services Committee, similar to the student employment one published for first-years this year. Many students are unprepared to file their own taxes or navigate the world of loans and credit cards, and this handbook can serve as a roadmap for better financial literacy. Secondly, I want to work with the Yale Parking & Transit office to create a shuttle line that runs to Universal Drive in North Haven, either by adding a line or, better yet, repurposing one of the two lines that runs to West Campus, in order to best allocate resources to serve all students. This will save money on Ubers and Zipcars and allow Yalies to more affordably escape the Yale bubble and have access to cheaper shopping and dining options.
In terms of internal YCC reform, I believe that although the current two-rep-per-college lineup is effective because it makes sure that one member is not responsible for an entire college’s advocacy, students who don’t feel a sense of community with their college and find solace in their cultural center lack representation on the Council. I plan to allow for one representative from each cultural center to be elected to serve on the Council, so that students from all backgrounds will feel that they have a voice in student government.
To conclude, I would like to express that although YCC has its flaws, it is ultimately effective in its goals to improve student life at Yale. I am able to recognize that, at the end of the day, we are undergraduates at the bottom of a totem pole that is headed by a powerful corporation. I can’t expect the Council to make comprehensive financial aid reform and completely eliminate the student income contribution in the span of two semesters, but I can make sure that students understand how much they have to pay. I can’t force Yale Health to hire more mental health clinicians, but I can increase their accessibility. I can’t tell the Executive Committee to expel anyone accused of sexual assault, but I can use the resources that Yale has in place to protect against it happening in the first place. I can’t wave a magic wand and suddenly make all students of color feel fully welcomed by all members of the Yale community, but I can absolutely increase their representation in a Council that is supposed to serve all students, regardless of background. Contrary to popular belief, the Yale College Council isn’t broken, or dead. We just have to recognize our limits in what we can and can’t implement. If it takes 11 more years for the student income contribution to be eliminated, it isn’t because of the incompetence of councilmembers. It’s because we’re 20-year-olds trying to tell a giant corporation what to do, and these things take time. I have faith in the YCC, and I have faith that Yale students will recognize that you have to run before you can reach the finish line. This Thursday and Friday, choose to run with me.
The Politic solicited op-eds from all Yale College Council candidates. We have published those that we received.