In an almost unanimous vote of 26-0-1, the College Council (CC) approved a motion for a plan designed to fill the vacancy which will be left by CC co-president Mark Rosenthal ’03 next semester. According to the CC constitution, “Council shall fill any vacancy in the above offices [executive offices] by a two-thirds vote of Council.” Therefore, the CC appointments committee has devised the following course of action by which to implement the constitution.
The CC will accept self-nominations from the entire student body which will then be read aloud at a CC meeting. After a time-capped discussion regarding the nominations, each CC member will have to vote for four of the nominees. The top four will then move on to the “next round” of the selection process in which each CC member will then have to vote for two out of the four remaining nominees. Each member will be required to vote for four and then two different nominees at the various points in the process; abstentions will not be permitted.
The two nominees with the majority of votes after the primary selection phase will be asked to attend the following week’s CC meeting. The finalists will have a chance to speak to the Council. Their comments will be followed by a brief talk from Ching Ho ’03, CC co-president, with whom the newly picked co-president will have to work most closely.
At that point, the entire council will have a chance to discuss the appointment and each member will vote for one of the two finalists without the option of abstention. Although the winner will be decided by a majority vote, according to the constitution, the individual must be approved by two-thirds of the CC members. The co-presidents will only vote in the case of a tie.
If there is no such approval, the whole process will restart or Ching will simply work for the rest of the year without a co-president. Jonathan Landsman ’05, who is not a CC member but attends almost all of their meetings, said that leaving a vacancy like this is unconstitutional and he plans to remind the CC of the fact.
CC officials hope to begin the election process as soon as possible so the student body will know who the new co-president will be by the end of the semester. The CC Appointments Committee will begin soliciting self-nominations prior to Thanksgiving break.
The CC constitution does not provide for a student-wide election for replacing a co-president. “The Constitution approved by the majority of the student body specifically states that permanent vacancies must be filled through an appointments process, with the leading contender legitimized by a 2/3 approval of the current College Council,” Ho said. “I trust, and believe, that the students who drafted this constitution realized an election of this circumstance has many transient problems: popularity over qualification, incompatibility leading to consequent conflict, demotivation and poor voter turnout the week before finals.”
In terms of the fairness of the process, Ho added, “with 35 diverse representatives deciding this important appointment, I do believe the appointments process will be very fair.” He pointed out that there are a large number of people outside of the CC who are highly qualified for the position, in addition to almost 100 ex-CC members in the student body.
Mike Henry ’04, CC treasurer, echoed these thoughts. “All candidates who apply will be considered equally, based on their self-noms and their experience and careers at Williams,” he said.
“Although it is likely that candidates from within Council will have more experience suited for the co-president position, they will not necessarily be at a distinct advantage. Experience within Council is only one factor in the many that will decide Council’s decision for Mark’s replacement.”
Rosenthal said that he would like to see as his replacement “someone who has several ideas for what would be good for campus and the willingness to pursue those and others with a great amount of effort.”
Since the self-nomination process has just begun, it is still unclear as to who exactly will be running. However, Chin Ho ’04, CC secretary, who was one of the most likely candidates, does not plan to run. “I think there were assumptions that I would naturally be placed into the seat due to the order of ranking in Council and the wording of the constitution. I just decided against it,” said Ho.