In a poorly-attended debate, the two tickets for College Council (CC) co-president presented and discussed their platforms on Sunday night. Although fewer than 40 people were in attendance at Goodrich for the debate, it lasted for over an hour and a half due to the large number of questions allowed by the moderators. Among the topics addressed most often were minority concerns, which followed up on last Thursday’s Minority Coalition (MinCo) debates, plans for reorganizing CC and the legitimacy of the running candidates.
The tickets running this year are Ching Ho ’03 and Mark Rosenthal ’03, and Mayo Shattuck ’03 and Susan Combs ’04. Sarah Barger ’02 and Joe Masters ’02, this year’s CC co-presidents, moderated the debate.
After welcoming remarks by Barger and Masters, the candidates presented three-minute introductions. Combs began, stating that her ticket’s combined “experience, vision and passion [would] give CC a new charge.” Shattuck, her running mate, has had three years’ experience on CC, is a member of the Committee on Priorities and Resources (CPR) and an editor of the Record [Shattuck did not participate in the production of this issue]. Though Combs has never held a CC position, she stated her extensive involvement in campus activities: she has served on committees such as the CPR, the Committee on Undergraduate Life (CUL), the Baxter Renovation Committee and the Director of Dining Services Search Committee. Her position as house president of Morgan Hall as a first-year also qualifies her for the position of co-president. Shattuck and Combs launched a criticism of the other ticket in their opening statement. “How can Mark and Ching say they want progress if they never expressed their interest [in campus improvement] before elections began?” Shattuck asked.
Ho and Rosenthal parried Shattuck’s charge before even beginning their introductions. “Susan may be on the Baxter committee, but we actually went to Boston,” said Ho. “We actually saw plans.”
After the debate, Ho explained that “the office in Boston was. . .the one headed up by a Williams alum in charge of the new [theatre and] dance complex and the parking garage.” Ho continued his introduction by outlining his ambitions for co-president. “We aren’t politicians, but we do want to get things done.” He also emphasized his ticket’s qualifications, referring to their positions on CC as well as membership in and leadership of organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Swing Club and Student Activities Council. Rosenthal outlined his leadership qualifications by mentioning his positions as a Junior Advisor, captain of the football team and CC Class of 2003 representative. He voiced his concern for issues pertaining to minority and financial aid students. “We can give more minorities a voice by putting them on SAC, the dining services committee” and other committees, said Rosenthal.
Barger and Masters opened the debate by asking the tickets to address their opponents’ platform and outline differences between the two. Rosenthal and Ho were unable to address any specific points, but Ho promised, “each of these things we claim to do, we’re good at and passionate about.” Combs and Shattuck focused on their commitment to a “guiding principle.”
“Mayo and I have an overall vision that can be implemented through concrete steps to improve CC,” said Combs. Shattuck added that he hopes to create stronger ties between the student body and CC that could be parlayed into a lobbying tool with the administration to advance issues important to students.
Minority issues were brought up immediately when Masters opened the floor to questions. Hall O’Donnell ’03 asked candidates about the MinCo debate, when Shattuck and Combs were unable to speak adequately about plans for and issues concerning minority students. Rosenthal, who addressed the question first, suggested appointing “MinCo reps on more committees and groups on campus.” Shattuck defended Thursday’s debate.
“We came very unprepared for the debates on Thursday,” he said. “Our inability to articulate MinCo issues was because CC has not made an effort to contact MinCo. It’s not our place to come up with and dictate solutions to race relations.” Combs added that “better representation on committees” is important. Rory Kramer ’03 asked the candidates how they would reduce stress on minority leaders, many of who feel overtaxed and find themselves members of numerous time-consuming committees.
“We want to open up conversation between MinCo and CC,” Shattuck said, adding that he wants “no hostility, no thinking in the back of your mind ‘he’s not here to help me out.’” Ho said that he and Rosenthal were “in a better position to understand the needs of minorities.”
“We want someone on this committee to whom they can express themselves,” added Rosenthal. Combs later suggested “allotting special time to the MinCo rep [at CC meetings]” for the representative to update CC on MinCo issues.
A question submitted online to Barger and Masters asked Ho about an accusation of embezzlement of funds from Housing Committee (HC) last fall and why he believes the student body can trust him after such an incident, especially considering CC’s $250,000 budget. The case involved alcohol left over from a party. The alcohol was not returned to HC; some of it was passed on to peer monitors at the party for consumption at another, without HC’s consent. Ho stored the rest of it in the trunk of his car. Ho stated that he asked Security whether he would be allowed to give the leftover alcohol to two peer monitors over the age of 21 at the party for use that night at their own party, and that Security officers consented.
“It was an issue of either pouring the alcohol out or giving it to peer monitors who had a party,” said Ho. “We’re not [personally] in charge of any money,” added Rosenthal. Ho and Rosenthal were also asked about the double suspension from campaigning that they had received for campaigning earlier than the official start time and then violating the original 24-hour suspension, which led to longer 36-hour suspension.
Shattuck and Combs spoke of moving CC meetings back to Baxter in order to open up meetings, holding them in a more relaxed manner and improving efficiency. “This would open it up and let the community see what CC is up to every week,” said Combs. Ho proposed to work with people coming to CC for funding requests and “to see what they expect and how to get their mission accomplished.” Rosenthal suggested “moving funding requests to the beginning of the meetings.”
Broader questions addressed the candidates’ desires to be CC presidents and how their positions will affect students’ everyday lives. “There are a lot of issues I want to use my power as CC co-president to implement,” said Rosenthal, who hopes to expand use of the 1914 Library, and allow students to avoid needing “to borrow the book from the guy down the hall.”
“Two people can only do so much, but with a whole council behind you, you can do a lot,” added Ho.
“I’m passionate about leadership and [am] hoping I can be a good leader of student o
pinion to the administration,” said Combs of her motives.
“There are a lot of things about this college that piss me off,” said Shattuck, “and this position will let Susan and me address those problems.”
Voting will take place on Tuesday, March 5 and Wednesday, March 6. To vote, log on to http://jose.williams.edu.