CC presidential candidates debate campus concerns

College Council (CC) presidential hopefuls voiced their opinions and goals before a crowd of 100 people Sunday night in Goodrich. The debate followed speeches from candidates who were running for other CC positions.

There were four tickets: Felton Booker ’01 and Phil Swisher ’01, Rob MacDougall ’01 and Brendan Quinn’02 Ami Parekh ’01 and Todd Rogers ’01 and Seth Behrends ’02 and Jon Wiener ’02. The candidates answered questions from the student body and spoke to issues they thought were pertinent.

The common goal among the candidates was stronger representation of Williams students. Another important issue raised by all candidates was the general political and social apathy on campus. This issue was addressed both in the candidates’ opening statements as well as in responses to student questions.

However, each ticket tried to differentiate itself from the others, stressing different ideals and connections to students.

The first opening statement came from Wiener and Behrends. This team emphasized its bond with students, and pledged its support for programs that would bring tstudents together. Behind the unusual campaign strategy of handing out party favors, the Wiener-Behrends ticket made clear its goal was to have “less homework and more recess.”

Following them was the ticket of Booker and Swisher, who highlighted their roles as the heads of such organizations as the Junior Advisors (JA’s) and Housing Committee, respectively, while stressing the diversity of their campaign. They promised to make CC more responsive, honest and accountable. They pledged to create a “streamlined and efficient advocacy group.”

MacDougall and Quinn followed the Booker-Swisher party with a different goal for CC. They emphasized their fresh perspective and criticized the current CC as being too insular. This concern, they said, was voiced by many students they had spoken to, and they thus promised to make CC more approachable. Their platform rests on their pledge to “return representation to College Council.”

Finally, Parekh and Rogers pledged their support to follow up on past CC work they had done and work to make CC a better representation of the student body. The first goal, what Rogers called “a New Vision,” introduced their plan to make CC more accessible. Their plan is to “make College Council transparent.” Their second goal was to create a stronger connection between student groups on campus, and finally they called for an end to political and social apathy at Williams.

Following the opening statements from the four tickets, the debate opened up to a question from current CC Co-presidents Bert Leatherman ’00 and Medha Kirtane ’00, who mediated the debate.

The question regarded the role of CC as written in its constitution. The answer was clear and fairly uniform: every ticket aimed to make CC a body in which all students felt they were represented and could play a role.

However, the MacDougall-Quinn ticket sought to charge the current CC, especially the Booker-Swisher and Parekh-Rogers teams, which includes members who serve on CC, with failing to put into action the aims stated clearly in the preamble to the CC constitution.

“College Council needs to provide a sense of belonging and participation . . . that sense of belonging and participation just isn’t there,” MacDougall said.

The first major issue debated between the four candidate groups came in response to an audience question about the race being a popularity contest. All of the candidates recognized this as partially true, but they differed in their reactions to this assertion. Parekh and Rogers called for a return of the focus to the issues. MacDougall and Quinn stressed their link to the people. Booker and Swisher noted that being popular for taking strides to improve the campus was a good thing. Weiner and Behrends cited the support of Atlanta Braves closer John Rocker.

Another key issue addressed was social and racial fragmentation on campus. Concerned audience members wanted to hear whether and how the candidates would respond to this problem. It was understood among all the candidates that this was an incredibly dynamic issue, but a concrete solution to the problem was not unveiled. Candidates discussed such possibilities as facilitating greater organization between CC and minority organizations, getting majority students involved in minority concerns, and educating the Williams community about the backgrounds of its students.

The debate also ranged to issues such as security-student relations, fire safety, political and social apathy, CC funding, community service on campus, and the question of sending sports teams to national competitions.

Voting for CC elections will take place today and tomorrow on Judicious Online Secure Elections (JOSE) at http://jose.williams.edu.