Newly elected College Council (CC) co-presidents Jeremy Goldstein ’09 and Peter Nurnberg ’09 met with the Record to discuss their election and their aims for the coming year. The pair won 568 first-preference votes to the 257 garnered each by the teams of Matt Beatus ’09 and Matt Koven ’09, and Rashid Duroseau ’09 and Toni Kraeva ’09. Goldstein is the current Junior Adviser of Williams B and Nurnberg is the outgoing CC Treasurer.
What are your major goals for the coming year?
Goldstein: We have three things we want to work on. The first involves funding for student groups and changing the policy that doesn’t allow alumni to donate to individual groups. That will hopefully solve some of the problems with club and club sport financing. The second one and third ones are more long-term, but the second one involves re-evaluating the campus spaces and setting up a way to get input from students about which spaces they want to use â€“ Paresky, for instance â€“ late at night and balancing that with the Zilkha Center’s aim of reducing energy consumption.
Nurnberg: The important part is getting a lot of student input to find out what spaces students need on campus to study, hang out, relax and hold all-campus events. This has a lot to do with relieving some of the stress on houses that are getting hit with big parties weekend after weekend â€“ Dodd house, Spencer House, Currier.
Goldstein: And the third aim we’re talking about is looking into setting up some kind of subsidized convenience store on campus. For people who don’t have the means to get to Stop & Shop or go to Ephporium we’re trying to work out something in the basement of Paresky.
Nurnberg: These are all things that we’ve already started thinking about. Jeremy and I have basically shoved in hours of meetings since we got elected and have already started laying the groundwork for these projects.
What is the greatest change you would like to make?
Nurnberg: The other thing that’s really important to us â€“ and we’ve already started doing this â€“ is making sure that student voices are heard. That’s kind of a buzz phrase everyone talks about, but we’re really making sure that students are involved in the decision-making process before decisions are completed and not as a kind of feed-down mechanism of us finding out what the administration has done after the fact. So we’re going to be pushing hard to get into those offices and to get other CC members into those offices to find out about what’s actually going on. And, to make sure that this is done in the proper way, we’re actually going out and getting opinions like we promised to do â€“ not just holding open forums and office hours but actually going to people.
Goldstein: We have a list of groups that we’re going to immediately. It’s going to be a whole College Council-wide effort. We’re going to be speaking to people, listening to their opinions and finding out what the student body’s actual concerns are so that we can be better representatives.
What do you see as the biggest challenge you’ll face?
Nurnberg: We have feasible goals, but they’re not low-lying fruit. We want to focus on things that are significant and that are really going to make a tangible improvement on campus, so we are taking on things that are inherently difficult to do. It is fairly difficult to create a culture on campus of getting students involved from the beginning of the decision-making process to the end. We do anticipate that as being a challenge, but it’s a challenge that we think we can overcome and that we’re starting on already.
Goldstein: A smaller challenge might just be following up the work that was done last year, which was good. We think that we have ideas to improve it, but, obviously, Kim [Dacres ‘08] and Morgan [Goodwin ’08, outgoing CC co-presidents] were fantastic student leaders.
Nurnberg: And then one more thing is to try to make Council more efficient. We want to try to make sure that other members on Council are doing projects and really working to improve the campus, so we’ve been talking about a number of ways in which we can have more of an accountability system for College Council and making sure that representatives are really sticking to their platforms, doing things that they promised their constituents they were going to do.
What is the best thing you’ve done at Williams so far?
Goldstein: I really think that being a JA has been fantastic. Everything from being in touch with this group to remembering what it was like freshman year â€“ sharing a room with Peter and navigating the mess that was our common room. It’s getting back into a frame of mind where you think about a set of problems I forgot about. It was great to think about giving back to Williams by helping and positively influencing twenty-six people and seeing what I could do to make their lives better.
Nurnberg: I’m really excited about being president, but I think the greatest experience I’ve had at Williams was being treasurer because the CC treasurer gets to see everything that goes on in the school in terms of student groups. So what I used to love was that people would come to meetings and have these great ideas, and I was able to help them find financing and tell them who they needed to speak to in order to make it a reality. That was a great feeling, to really be able to help these groups get off the ground running.
What is the most exciting aspect of being elected?
Nurnberg: I think the most exciting thing for me is that it shows that the majority of the student body feels that we’re qualified to be their voice . . . to the administration and represent their views. What’s really special to me is when someone comes to me with an idea and I can make their idea a reality, or when someone comes to me with a problem or concern and I can fix it. That’s just a much greater feeling than interest in your own problems or concerns and own issues. It’s a great feeling for the two of us to feel like we’re the point people for everyone on campus, and we certainly encourage everyone on campus to come to us.
Goldstein: It’s really exciting to think that, not only can people come to us with an issue, but we think we’re in a great position to take it to the administration and really fight for it. Even if you’re just another person at the school, you can do a lot â€“ the administration really is open and you can talk to them. But hopefully, in the position of College Council co-presidents, they’ll take us very seriously when voicing students’ concerns.