As the country gears up for a close race this November, the Williams community held its own elections this past week for various College Council (CC) positions including neighborhood at-large representatives, first-year house representatives, Honor and Discipline Committee members and student-faculty committees. The elections, however, lacked the intensity and drama of the national battle, with low voter turnout and several uncontested races. In total, 35 students ran for 10 CC, four Honor Committee and various neighborhood positions via the instant-runoff style voting conducted using BigPulse – an online polling Web site – until late last Tuesday night.
Although a few races involving first-year house representatives were competitive, including a dead heat in the Mills election between Mustafa Saadi ’12 and Sam Jonynas ’12, the overall tone of the fall CC elections was markedly tame. Three of the four neighborhood at-large positions, as well as senior and junior Honor and Discipline Committee positions, were uncontested and failed to garner much student interest. Low voter participation continued to mark the elections, with 24 percent of sophomores casting a vote for their Honor and Discipline Committee representatives, one of the most contested races in the election.
The low voter turnout frustrated CC Co-President Peter Nurnberg ’09, who emphasized that “the people you put in the room will influence policies and really have an impact on student life.”
The only contested election involving upperclassmen was for Wood at-large representative, between Carol Tsoi ’11 and Jenny Danzi ’09, in which 18 percent of eligible students voted. Danzi won with 39 votes to Tsoi’s 35.
Despite the lack of enthusiasm among upperclassmen, the first-year class brought passion and competitiveness to the election, as clever signage and entry snacks visits created election buzz in the halls of Mission and Frosh Quad. Five of the six house elections had multiple candidates and almost 40 percent of first-years cast a ballot in their first election. “We had good enthusiasm from the freshman class,” Nurnberg said, noting that CC was designed to encourage first-year participation and is “a great way to develop future leaders for the campus.”
The lone female among the first-year reps, Liz Jimenez ’12 of Williams Hall, said she was excited for the “real opportunity to enact change.”