College Council held an open platform for those candidates who wanted to address their proposed plans for next year if nominated for a position March 4.
Because there is only one pair of nominated presidential candidates, Will Slocum ‘99 and Kate Ervin ‘99, the open platform served as a substitute for an open debate. Wednesday’s platform was not well-attended either by candidates or the Williams student body. Out of 26 candidates, only 6 gave speeches. Many seats were uncontested and some seats received no nominees.
The low student turnout was to be expected, Co-President of the College Council Amanda Cowley ‘98 said, “It should come as no surprise to anyone that an uncontested electoral open mic is not riveting.” She noted that even at last year’s debate only about one-third of the student body showed up. Commenting on why she thought this year’s presidential nomination went uncontested, Cowley said, “It is due in large part to the emergence of a strong female candidate who had her choice of strong partners. Those she decided not to run with have sought other ways to be involved with Council next year.”
Mac Harman ‘98, CC Co-President, explained the purpose for the platform. “Since there wasn’t a presidential debate, which is what usually happens, we wanted to open the floor for anyone who wanted a public opportunity to announce their platform.” Cowley said the platform was more meaningful for candidates running for positions other than president. “The open mic allowed those running in the hotly contested fields of treasurer and secretary to have a chance to speak.”
Slocum and Ervin were the first to speak in the platform. They announced their plans to focus their efforts as co-presidents on entertainment, student space, Winter Study, first year social life, class size and the advising system. They proposed looking into extending the scope of the Log by bringing in small concerts. They also mentioned an increase in funding for the Spring Concert. Speaking about Winter Study, Slocum said, “We feel it’s an integral part of the Williams experience.” The candidates proposed improving Winter Study by exploring local internship possibilities. They ended their platform by listing their extensive involvement in the Williams community. Ervin said, “We have a lot of experience with College Council and also a lot of committee experience.”
Bert Leatherman ‘00 spoke next for the position of secretary. Stating his reasons for running, Leatherman said, “College Council is about thorough dialogue on campus issues.” He added, “My main goal as secretary is to get people excited about College Council.” The other candidate for secretary, Matt Bryson ‘99, did not speak at the platform.
Leatherman was followed by the only candidate to speak for the position of treasurer, Zach McNish ‘99. McNish said he had no specific platform but, “I’m open to all suggestions from the Williams community.” He received the most questions from the audience. When asked about possible improvements in the current funding structure, McNish answered that he thought the current sub-group system was effective because it lets each group decide how to budget its money. He suggested this system could be fine-tuned.
Elizabeth Lee ‘01 and David Walfish ‘00 both spoke for the position of Campus At-Large representative. Lee listed her experience on Frosh Council and CC, saying she enjoyed the energy that came from both. She said she would work to improve the current first-year advisory system and that she was currently working on ways to improve the accessibility of the 1914 Library. “I’m really excited and energized,” Lee said at the end of her speech.
Walfish focused his speech on campus events. He talked about his experience on the Frosh Council, the SAC committee, CC and organizing Winter Carnival ‘97. He stated he had experience with large-scale campus events and that he would look towards bringing more diversity to campus events.
Commenting on his impression of the platform, Harman said, “We weren’t looking for a major fistfight or debate.” He added, “I don’t think the turnout reflects community interest. This was just an informal gathering.” CC Secretary Christopher Bell ‘98 said of the platform, “This is a nice way to let the candidates talk about what’s on their minds.”
Slocum said, “I think it was sucessful in the sense that it gave us an opportunity to vocalize some of our platform issues… Kate and I were hoping that Mike and Matt would show up so that we could set iup a more interactive, engaging dialogue with the other candidates and the student body at large. Such an event would have brought in a larger crowd. Regardless of the competition, we want to take this time to get out there and get people excited about the Council for the upcoming year.”
College Council elections will be held Tuesday and Wednesday in Baxter mailroom.