On Monday night the College Council (CC) tickets of Jeremy Goldstein ’09 and Peter Nurnberg ’09, Matt Beatus ’09 and Matt Koven ’09, and Rashid Duroseau ’09 and Toni Kraeva ’09 debated in front of approximately 40 students and passers-by in Baxter Hall. Moderated by Record editors Kevin Waite ’09 and Hillary Batchelder ’09, the debate began with three-minute position speeches given by each of the three pairs.
Posing themselves as the “social revitalization” candidates, Beatus and Koven sketched their plan to improve the College’s community spirit through a streamlined party-planning process. By consolidating funds for entertainment into a single account, establishing a committee whose sole purpose is event publicity and enforcing an incentive structure to encourage students to throw more events, the two hope to increase the quality of social experience. They explained that their perception of the problem of the community is that it does not incorporate enough people and that this fact may be to blame for the recent racist incident on campus. “We want people to come away feeling that there is a tighter community,” Beatus said. Beatus has served previously on Council, and Koven is the current business manager for the Record.
Duroseau and Kraeva pointed to the need to harness the strength of the voice of CC and to improve the communication between CC and students, as well as between CC and the administration. They touched upon issues of mental health and diversity as part of their platform. Goals include the creation of an international center as well as an organized textbook exchange fair. Duroseau is the current Class of 2009 representative, and Kraeva is the co-president of Spencer Neighborhood.
Goldstein and Nurnberg, who were first-year roommates, focused on issues of funding and communication with the administration. Nurnberg stressed his experience navigating how funding functions at the College: “I know how to use funding to maximize student welfare,” he said. “We’ll focus on using CC’s resources so that all clubs and student groups can get what they need.” Regarding student-administrative communication, the pair stated that the administration currently has almost all of the power, and that CC needs to be effective in bringing student interest to Hopkins Hall. Nurnberg, the current treasurer of CC and president of Dodd Neighborhood, added that their ticket had two distinct perspectives on CC because, although Goldstein has not previously served on Council, he was an editor with the Record for a year and a half.
Duroseau spoke about CC’s responsibility to articulate student needs and be a liaison between student groups. Referencing the new group of students that spontaneously began meeting last week in response to the racist incidents in Williams E, Duroseau explained that Stand With Us is a perfect model of what CC should be doing not only as a reaction to negative incidents but also to initiate conversations.
Nurnberg emphasized that whatever goals CC adopts, they need to be feasible. “We should not be doing things that have been tried a thousand times before and failed,” he said.
Responding to the question about CC’s greatest challenge in the past year, Duroseau pointed to CC’s difficulty in achieving a balance between reflection and action. He said that CC has often devoted more time trying to pick apart an issue than actually taking action.
Nurnberg spoke about CC’s role in the disjunction between administrative action and student opinion. Citing the administration’s decision to convert spaces in Goodrich Hall to dance studios, he explained that CC did not hear about the move until the decision had been made and finalized and that such protocol should not be tolerated.
Beatus and Koven remained faithful to their entertainment platform by suggesting that CC was responsible for maintaining the integrity of student life. “We think that CC should be the body here at Williams that makes sure that each student is getting the maximum benefit out of their stay so that their academics aren’t outweighing their social life,” Beatus said.
All tickets confirmed the belief that the roles of CC and the Neighborhoods need to be further distinguished, mainly regarding the latter’s more specified lens on the small-scale level of the house and Neighborhood. Some mentioned that CC should be responsible for encouraging the Neighborhoods to communicate with one another.
Regarding the communication between CC and the administration, Koven insisted on the importance of regular standing meetings while Duroseau said that it was more important to know what students were thinking before meeting with administrators. Kraeva added that CC has to insist upon accountability and transparency from Hopkins Hall.
Goldstein mentioned the importance of extending the dialogue beyond Dean Merrill to Campus Safety and Security as well as to the President’s Office and vice presidents. He also decried the administration for making decisions without taking student input into account. “There is no reason Paresky should be closing if students want it to be open,” he said. Nurnberg added that knowing what is going on in the minds of both students and the administration is vital to increasing efficacy.
In order to gauge student opinion, Duroseau asserted that the CC secretary must release Council’s minutes to the student body in a timely manner, as should committees. Nurnberg underscored the importance of getting the opinions of the entire student body and supported the use of referendums and visits to entries and snacks to hear what students think. He also pointed out that between himself and Goldstein the pair represented a wide group of people on campus. Beatus and Koven both stressed a solidified community “like it’s never been seen before. Engaging your opinion like it’s never been done before” by holding instant feedback polls and utilizing the new televisions in Paresky.
Students running for contested class representative positions each had three minutes to speak, including Emanuel Yekutiel ’11 and Glenn Yong ’11 for the Class of 2011 position, and Christophe Dorsey-Guillamin ’10 and the split-ticket of Narae Park ’10 and Thomas Rubinsky ’10 for the Class of 2010.
Candidates for secretary included Muhammad Asad Liaqat ’11, Emily Deans ’09 and Andrew Goldston ’09. Rachel Levy ’09, running for treasurer, is running unopposed and therefore did not speak.
Elections open up this Thursday at 12:01 a.m. and close on Friday at 11:59 p.m.