MassPIRG ousted; Ervin, Slocum elected to CC

Results for the College Council general election were released Wednesday night, naming Kate Ervin ’99 and Will Slocum ’99 co-presidents for the next term.

CC also announced that MassPIRG was not reaffirmed in the vote.

In other races, Bert Leatherman ’00 won the post of College Council secretary while several other key positions in student government were left undecided. The run-offs are scheduled for March 17 and 18.

CC was pleasantly surprised by the voter turnout this year. Although many thought that the large number of uncontested seats would lead to a poor showing at the polls, 1166 ballots were cast over the two-day election.

According to Leatherman, the number of uncontested elections was approximately the same as it has been historically, but after last year’s heavily contested presidential election, which many believe was responsible for bringing over half the campus to the polls, it was widely held that this year was going to have a smaller turnout.

The presidential seat was uncontested going into the election, although a write-in campaign was mounted by candidates Mike Hickey ’99 and Matt Drukker ’99. Ervin and Slocum won with 98 percent of the vote.

Mac Harman ’98, current CC co-president, felt that a number of things contributed to the high voter turnout. “I think the high turnout this year is explained both by some of the tight races, especially the campus-at-large positions, and also by the MassPIRG vote,” he said.

In the at-large races, Elizabeth Lee ’01 and David Walfish ’00 won half of the seats, while the other two are to be decided in a run-off next week. In what is predicted to be a close race, candidates David La ’01, Graham Lee ’01, Ryan Mayhew ’01 and John Rivera-Dirks ’99 are fighting for the seats.

After a fiery debate throughout the campus, the students voted to close its doors to the environmental organization MassPIRG. Every two years since MassPIRG came to Williams, a referendum concerning its presence on campus was called. Much of the argument centered around MassPIRG’s policy to charge $4 on each student’s term bill. Over 65 percent of the voters chose not to reaffirm MassPIRG. Over 70 percent of both the sophomore and junior classes supported the rejection of MassPIRG. On the other hand, only 52 percent of the freshman class voted against MassPIRG’s reaffirmation.

Rebecca Sanborn ’01, who is a member of MassPIRG said, “Unfortunately, the campaign issue evolved solely into a debate of our funding system, and it seems that much of the campus did not agree with our funding, or did not agree with what they believed our funding to be, based upon many misconceptions that were spread throughout the campaign.”

She continued, “It is some what rare to have Williams students really looking and working beyond the confines of the Purple Bubble, and I think that it is important to have an organization like MassPIRG continuing to do that.”

In the secretary’s race, Leatherman defeated Matt Bryson ’99. Hopeful juniors Anh Nguyen and Kerianne Wilson are awaiting the run-off to decide which one will win the treasurer’s seat next week. Julian Fang ’01 and Amish Shah ’00, both won seats as MinCo Representatives. In the class representative races, Jan Postma ’99, Medha Kirtane ’00 and Ami Parekh ’01 were all victorious in their uncontested elections. Officers and at-large representative take their seats after spring break while House representatives start at the beginning of next year.

Leatherman thought that the election went well on the whole, but that the campus support could have been generated by sources other than the candidates themselves. CC has been considering changing the election by-laws in recent weeks in order to reduce the number of uncontested seats. Some believe that write-in campaigns should have higher profiles on campus, while others find that more drastic changes should be pursued. If, for example, the deadline for the candidates’ platforms was scheduled a few days after the deadline for the nominations themselves, more people might turn in their paperwork on time.

This debate has largely been sparked by the actions of Drukker and Hickey. Hickey noted that their goal was not victory, but rather to stir up support for changes to the by-laws. “We were happy with the candidates,” Hickey said, “but we wanted to prevent uncontested elections in the future.” Leatherman agrees. “Uncontested elections are a sign that politics on campus are dormant and unhealthy.” Still, he too was pleased with the candidates and races this year.

Harman also felt that the election was a success. “I think that the two days of elections went very smoothly. Keeping the polls open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. provided students with ample time to vote, and everyone who helped out did a great job.”

Posts on several committees were also open to election this year. Mike Hodel ’99, Cathy Warren ’99 and Joseph Kauffman ’99 took the reins of the Honorary Degrees Committee, and Sheraz Choudhary ’00 and Rob Wiygul ’00 were elected to the Committee on Priorities and Resources.

Representatives for the Honor and Discipline Committee were elected as well. Tamaan Osbourne-Roberts ’99, Scott Snyder ’99, Moira Shanahan ’01and Rebecca Hinyard ’01 were all winners in uncontested races. Allen Wong ’00 won one seat to represent the sophomore class, and the second is to be decided in a run-off between Patrick Andersen and Joe Rogers. The run-offs were necessary says Harman, because “all of these races were incredibly tight. So I expect that every vote cast will make a difference in the outcome of the run-offs.”

Finally, the election for the Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility was nullified. The ballot had been misprinted to show that the two candidates, Mellissa Foster ’01 and Melissa Motta ’00, were running for two seats, while in actuality there is only one. The re-vote will be conducted along with the run-offs next week.

With full knowledge of the complaints about the large number of uncontested seats in this year’s election, Harman “was really impressed with the turnout.” He noted that 1,166 ballots was a high turnout when compared to elections in the past. “Last year’s very contested presidential race, though it didn’t cover much media attention, was the first in a long time to have over 1,000 students to vote,” Harman said. Yet even without a hotly contested presidential race, this year’s election was a large draw for the campus. After the run-offs, expected to be hard-fought races, the new CC members will take office when they come back from Spring Break on April 6.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *