Last week’s vote of no confidence in College Council (CC) had insufficient participation to validate the vote, and thus CC will remain unchanged. Though a slight majority of the voters supported the dissolution of CC, only 18.7 percent of the student body participated, well below the required two-thirds participation.
According to the CC constitution’s rules for a vote of no confidence, if two-thirds of the campus votesd and a majority of them voted for no-confidence, then students would elect a new Council.
The vote was sparked by a decision made by the Council involving The Mad Cow, a campus humor magazine. After The Mad Cow published an article entitled “College Council Adds ‘Black Guy’ Position” last spring that some members of the student body found offensive, CC derecognized The Mad Cow as a campus group and took away its funding. Shortly thereafter, more than 10 percent of the student body signed a petition calling for a vote of no-confidence.
The CC constitution stipulates that a vote of no-confidence must be held if the petition for CC dissolution is supported by more than 10 percent of the student body.
After being rescheduled from Oct. 17, the vote of no confidence officially began at 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 30 and ended at 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 2.
“With a vote that is significantly tilted toward those who would vote for ‘no confidence,’ the sheer number of students who turned out to vote against the dissolution of College Council is heartening,” said Joe Masters ’02, CC co-president
The issue seemed to be somewhat divided by class. The majority of seniors and juniors indicated that they did not have confidence in the current CC. In Masters’ opinion, this probably expresses “an overall statement of discontent with College Council during their years at Williams,” or a “desire to just ‘shake things up.’”
He pointed out that sophomores and first-years tended to oppose new elections, speculating that these are “those students who have had the current Council in place for a significant percentage of their time at Williams.”
Josh Ain ’03, editor of The Mad Cow, is optimistic despite the results of the vote.
“College Council made a terrible decision last year,” Ain said. “Williams students took the strongest action available in protest by raising a petition for a vote of no-confidence. College Council heard the message, recognized the implications of their decision and revoked it. The Mad Cow is continuing strong, and we’re hard at work on our next issue.”
However, Ain, in a letter to CC and the Record, questioned CC’s advertising of the vote. The CC constitution requires that “two weeks of publicity through all available channels” before a vote of no-confidence takes place. Ain contested whether advertising began on the appropriate day and whether it happened through “all available channels” CC had at its disposal.
“I can’t figure out how there have been two weeks of advertisement for vote of no confidence,” he said. “Would the CC minutes count as a form of advertising? I think they were the first public documents to mention a vote of no confidence scheduled for the 31st.”
“Even the CC minutes did not hit the lunch tables until Thursday [Oct. 18], though,” he added, two days after advertising was supposed to have begun.
Masters responded by saying that CC placed ads in the Daily Advisor (DA) beginning on Oct. 16 and continued with “multiple [all-campus] emails, posters, DA ads, Daily Message ads, an opinion piece in the Record and multiple mentions in College Council minutes.” He added that “the advertising was unbiased, and it continued for the required time.”
Masters said that the vote was originally postponed from Oct. 17 after CC decided that proper advertising had not taken place.
“As we explained to [Ain] on October 16th [when his first Daily Message appeared] and in College Council on Oct. 17, because we had no idea if the DA ads had been placed, by the constitution, the earliest date to have the vote was two weeks laterâ€”on Oct. 30.”
Ching Ho ’03, all-campus representative, was a member of the elections committee charged with advertising the vote, along with Garry Sanders ’02, all-campus representative. Ho said he worked with Ain to publicize the vote.
“I asked [Ain] what he needed on my end to make this work and offered full cooperation,” Ho said. “He gave me some posters to print, I copied them and put them up.”
Ho said that it was unclear as to whose responsibility it was to advertise a vote of no-confidence. “What needed to be done was ambiguous. There were no guidelines or precedent, but a massive diffusion of responsibility,” he said.
He added, “If either side really, really had its heart into it, it wouldn’t matter what side was responsible. Each would take its own initiative, right?”
Steve Floyd ’02, all-campus representative, said that CC’s actions to advertise the vote should not necessarily require CC to advertise for potential future votes, though he emphasized that CC should ensure that some advertising did happen.
“We did not set a precedent requiring CC to publicize any such vote,” Floyd said.
“However, when the organization that initiated the petition fails to fulfill the constitutional requirement for advertising, then CC is required to represent those who signed the petition with sufficient advertising.”