College Council decided not to recognize Ephs for Bill Bradley, a recently formed student organization whose members support the former senator in the upcoming presidential election. Without recognition, a student organization is not eligible to receive funding from the Council.
According to its website (wso.williams.edu/orgs/billbradley), Ephs for Bill Bradley is a political awareness club formed to inform the Williams College community about the 2000 presidential election and Bill Bradley’s candidacy, to promote political activity and awareness on campus and to provide an outlet for students to participate in the political process.
Michael Hacker ’00, founder of the organization, said, “Ephs for Bill Bradley is a legitimate Williams College student organization. We are interested in getting as many students involved in the political process as possible and the best way to do that is by supporting a candidate and a cause that our members believe in.”
Members of the club hope to get involved in Bradley’s campaign by taking trips to different political events as supporters of the candidate. They have expressed a particular interest in attending college fairs in order to participate in the college political scene. In addition, they would distribute information regarding Bradley and his stance on various pertinent issues to students interested in learning more about the political scene.
However, CC, 10-15, decided not to recognize the group, primarily on the grounds that Ephs for Bill Bradley is focused on supporting one specific candidate, rather than an entire political party. CC provides funding for the Garfield Republicans and the Williams Democrats, but withdrew its funding of Alan Keyes when the Garfield Republicans brought him to campus last year.
The issue of funding was at the heart of the debate. Some CC members believe that recognizing Ephs for Bill Bradley might lead to subsequent misappropriation of CC funds.
CC bylaws state that “Council funds may not be used to directly contribute to political campaigns, external political organizations (not limited to political parties) or external religious organizations.” They make no mention of recognizing partisan organizations, however.
Council members saw the funding of this organization as providing funds indirectly for Bradley’s campaign. Hacker asserts that since the organization would not use CC funding for anything other than providing vans for students to attend political activities and printing information to distribute to students interested in the political spectrum, the CC itself would not be endorsing Bradley’s campaign. Rather, he said, funding this organization would allow students to participate in the political world.
Council member Morgan Barth ’02 agrees with Hacker and voted for the group’s recognition. “I am frustrated by the vote because I think the club might have been an exciting way to inject a bit of political thought and intellectual debate to a campus that has little of each,” wrote Barth in a letter to CC.
Around 15 students have written to the Council on this issue. All but twelve have been in favor of recognizing the club.
Council member Ben Finholt ’00 supported the CC’s decision. “I simply feel that Council should not support, especially monetarily, a group whose major goal is to educate people about and help to gather support for a single candidate,” he said.
Hacker returned to CC on October 20 to restate his arguments. The Council will reconsider recognition of the Bill Bradley organization at its next meeting on October 27.