In an unexpected move Wednesday night, College Council (CC) appointed Scott Grinsell ’04 co-president by a vote of 22-5-2. Grinsell, who will serve alongside Ching Ho ’03 for the remaining five weeks of the term, replaces Mark Rosenthal ’03 after weeks of debate and delay that temporarily resulted in the co-president seat left vacant, a violation of the CC constitution.
During a required constitutional review at the meeting, Jonathan Pahl ’03 (substituting for Hall O’Donnell ’03) stressed the importance of having two co-presidents. Without a replacement for Rosenthal, CC was left with only 34 members, while the constitution requires no fewer than 35.
Also, the constitution states that “Council shall fill any vacancy in [an officer position] by a two-thirds vote of Council.” Previous appointment and approval meetings resulted in Grinsell’s selection as the most suitable replacement for Rosenthal, but on two occasions a vote to officially make him co-president fell short of the required two-thirds majority. CC had decided to proceed without appointing anyone to fill the vacancy, but review of this clause left that course of action unconstitutional.
At the meeting, Chris Durlacher ’03 officially motioned to appoint Grinsell co-president and discussion ensued. The timbre of last week’s discussion was different from prior meetings due to the presence of new housing unit representatives.
Many of these voting members were not well acquainted with previous efforts to replace Rosenthal and, according to Grinsell, were especially receptive to “the very articulate members of Council who spoke in favor of me.”
“It made a big difference,” he said.
Two of Grinsell’s staunchest supporters at the meeting, Pahl and Jim Irving ’05,
had been his opponents in an earlier race for the position. Mike Henry ‘03, CC Treasurer, also spoke in favor of Grinsell.
“Scott’s appointment as co-president was a good move for Council,” Henry said. “It means that our focus will now be on important issues, such as constituent opinions and student body improvement, instead of on whether or not Scott is eligible to fill Mark’s vacancy.”
Some members of CC opposed Grinsell’s appointment based on the fact that a large percentage of those voting were unfamiliar with the process. Julia Karoly ’03 argued this sentiment at the meeting. “I think Scott is going to be a great co-president,” she said. “But in the fall, we tried twice [to appoint Grinsell] and we failed twice. We took unfair advantage of a new council.”
Others such as Durlacher took a different stance:“[The new composition] is an opportunity for a body of elected representatives of the student body who were fresh and not yet jaded and embittered toward the presidential debate, to act in a way that would fill the vacancy, end the controversy and solve the problem, not to mention elect a capable new co-president,” he said.
Grinsell welcomed the new members as much-needed “new energy” on the Council. “My impression is that the influx of new people has done great things for Council,” he said. “There are lots of new ideas, and people generally seem to be excited to be on Council.”
Grinsell said that he welcomes the chance to leave the tension and political infighting in the past and move forward during his time as co-president.
While he is considering running for a position on next year’s CC in the upcoming election, Grinsell emphasized that “any efforts to run will always be secondary to my duties as co-president.”
“I’m adamant that the election shouldn’t increase tension,” he said.
Grinsell said that he would continue working on the projects and build off of ideas he was familiar with from his previous two years on CC.
Noting the short period of his term, Grinsell said, “I’m very realistic about what I’m capable of overseeing in five weeks – time is a limitation. However, given the energy this new council has, we can certainly do a lot.”
His primary goals include examining the CUL housing reforms implemented last year, possibly in time to advocate changes for this year’s process.
He is also interested in forming a student committee to ensure a smooth Baxter transition, revisiting the faculty hiring and course-load reduction plans that have had mixed benefits for students and possibly changing the way ACE events are scheduled.
Grinsell said that he and Ho have slightly different, but very compatible outlooks and interests for CC. He has begun working with current officers, especially Henry, on a new constitution to be voted on in the Spring. Two primary objectives for the proposed constitution are lowering the size of Council from 35 members to 27 and more clearly establishing CC as the student voice to the town.
Grinsell’s appointment as co-president still leaves a vacancy on CC at his old position, that is, Class of 2004 representative. Self-nominations from juniors were solicited and a replacement is expected to be chosen this week.