On Wednesday night, College Council (CC) will convene for the first time this semester, following the house elections that took place this past weekend. Co-presidents Sarah Barger ’02 and Joe Masters ’02 hope to change the face of CC, increasing its role as an advocacy group for the student body. Masters considers this role “one of the very helpful functions of CC. Students come to us with initiatives and we provide whatever support they want that we can provide.”
Towards this goal, CC is sponsoring a fundraising concert on Friday, Sept. 21 that will benefit organizations, such as the Red Cross, that have provided aid to victims of last Tuesday’s terrorist attacks. The concert, organized by Dave Goodman ’03 and Eliza Segell ’04, will consist entirely of student performances.
Barger and Masters also hope to initiate monthly “Town Hall” meetings at which students and administrators can voice their thoughts on issues affecting the student body. They believe that these forums will help bring student concerns to the forefront of campus discussion.
“I hope that the Town Hall meetings provide another public outlet for College Council’s role as an advocacy body. Town Hall meetings will be used both to gather student opinion about current issues and to provide a place for students to ask questions about how the College and College Council works,” said Masters.
To encourage students to participate more actively in reforming Williams, CC is creating an Amendment Supervisory Committee (ASC), which will solicit ideas for change from the student body. At Wednesday’s meeting, CC will officially create ASC.
CC is currently comprised of 33 voting members plus Barger and Masters, who vote only to break ties. On Wednesday, the Finance Committee (FinCom) will present CC with a budget proposal concerning the distribution of funds to various departments, such as athletics or musical groups. CC’s first order of business will be to allocate funds to the 100-plus student groups that depend on funding from CC to operate.
Group funding is especially important following the fiscal problems faced by last year’s CC, when in order to fund activities, CC needed to accept an emergency infusion of money from the College.
Barger and Masters cite overspending from previous years as the cause of the financial troubles and say that no such problem should arise this year.
At its opening meeting, CC will also discuss the actions taken last year to strip The Mad Cow, a campus humor magazine, of recognition and funding. Should The Mad Cow submit a proposal that it be reinstated as an official student group of the College, a two-thirds supermajority of the current CC would have to support the proposal in order to override last year’s vote.
One of Barger’s and Masters’ primary goals is to re-examine the College Council’s constitution and the structure of student life. Last spring the student body voted overwhelmingly (84 to 16 percent) in favor of Ballot Initiative 1 (BA1), which proposed that an all-campus referendum take place by Feb. 2002 “whereby the existing current organization of campus life (such as social organization, campus governance and residential leadership) is either re-structured or re-affirmed.”
According to Masters, “Sarah and I campaigned on a platform of bringing a proposed change in College Council’s structure to the student body for a vote, and we’re now pursuing that as a way to meet the mandate of the Ballot Initiative.”
Already, Barger and Masters have changed the organization of the CC meetings. This year, each meeting begins with a period of “open time” during which members of the student body may voice their concerns to CC.
However, no voting occurs during this segment. Barger and Masters hope that this change will lend a greater sense of decorum to discussions, preventing rash decisions from being made directly following a student’s proposal. “Open time” will be followed by discussions of old business, which concerns issues that have been brought up at previous meetings, and new business, which may deal with an issue voiced by a student during “open time.” During these periods CC may vote on proposals. However, only CC members are permitted to speak. Barger and Masters say that this rule will make discussions more orderly, preventing the proceedings from getting out of hand, which they claim has happened in the past.
Students who wish to address the Council should visit the CC office in Goodrich, where they can meet with Barger and Masters every Sunday at 9 p.m.