Citing “issues of legitimacy” concerning his position, Chin Ho, College Council’s (CC) newly elected secretary and brother of CC co-president Ching Ho ‘02, has resigned his position until the beginning of the 2002-2003 school year. Chin is not currently an enrolled student at Williams and thus his eligibility to be secretary had been in question since his election in March. The decision comes after discussions involving Chin, CC co-president Mark Rosenthal ’02, Ching and Nancy Roseman, dean of the College.
Chin said that his reasons for resigning are threefold. First, both the adminstration and other students raised concerns about his legitimacy as secretary. Chin also cited his interest in a number of activities other than CC and his confidence in the interim secretary, Jacob Eisler ’04, who was Chin’s opponent in the elections.
“I have complete faith and confidence in [Eisler] doing a good job as secretary. If I did not, I would not have temporarily resigned,” Chin said.
CC does not need to hold an all-campus election in order to replace Chin; rather, a council vote is all that is necessary for the new appointment.
The guiding principle behind the adminstration’s decision to prevent Chin’s appointment is directly related to the power he would have over the College funds that are placed in the hands of CC. Each year CC receives funds from the Student Activities Tax that is included in students’ tuition. Because the fee is charged in the tuition and all students must pay the tax, the College has control over the money. Roseman believes that unless a person is officially a member of the Williams community â€“ in other words, an enrolled student â€“ he or she cannot have authority or supervision over the dispensation of funds.
Despite the fact that Chin’s position as secretary does not entail direct involvement with CC finances, the secretary does have a voting position on CC, which allocates funds to students each week at its meeting.
“You can’t have authority over [dispensing] College funds [for CC] unless you’re a student,” Roseman said.
“I agree with most of [the College’s] reasoning,” Chin said. “The only thing I disagreed on was if I am a Williams community member. According to the school’s classification only fully enrolled students are [members of the community]. But I define a community member as a person that has common interests with his/her group. . .,” Chin said.
Roseman expressed reluctance at having to become involved in the situation, although she knew she could not let Chin serve. She was also happy that Ching and Rosenthal helped to resolve the situation in a manner that kept her participation in CC to a minimum and ultimately left Chin’s decision up the co-presidents and Chin.
“CC should solve the problem. I feel very strongly that I should not intervene in CC. . .but in this situation I thought I should step in,” Roseman said, adding that if Chin had refused to resign, she would have taken an even more active role.
In order to more formally define the qualifications necessary to serve on CC and avoid confusion in the future, a bylaw passed at last Wednesday’s meeting by a 16-4-3 vote states, “All members of CC must be students currently enrolled at Williams College.” The bylaw does not, however, prevent a non-enrolled person from being on the ballot for CC elections. For instance, next year Chin would still be able to run in the CC elections, but the bylaw would formally prevent him from taking office until he became enrolled at the College. The newly proposed CC Constitution, which failed to muster enough votes to pass at the last elections, does not prevent non-enrolled people from running either.
Roseman agrees that non-enrolled students should be able to run, but reiterated that they cannot take office until they are enrolled students. “I would have a strong opinion about someone saying [Chin] couldn’t run. . .I absolutely [support him being on the ballot],” Roseman said.
While CC representatives had some ideological problems with the administration seemingly stepping on the toes of CC, an independent student entity, many members also saw Chin’s resignation as the appropriate move.
“I think it’s the right decision, even if [the fact that he can’t be secretary] is not written in the constitution,” said Jim Irving ’05.
“We felt that Chin should be secretary, but the administration came to the forefront,” Rosenthal said.