Students gathered in Baxter Hall on Sunday evening to listen to the annual College Council (CC) Speeches and Debate. The main show was the two-ticket debate for the position of co-presidents, with team Lizzy Brickley ’10 and Mike Tcheyan ’10 and team Nick Daen ’10 and Marc Pulde ’10 taking the floor. Record editors Amanda Korman ’10 and Jared Quinton ’10 moderated the debates.
In their three-minute opening statement, Brickley and Tcheyan commended the College, but noted that it is “an institution with room for improvement.” They also said that they would work to ensure that budget cuts will not impair student life. They went on to introduce some of their proposals, including an emphasis on academic advising and an endeavor to “preserve essential Williams values and programs during the presidential transition process.”
Introducing themselves, Daen and Pulde said that they are “tired of watching the ineffective way that the College Council deals with our concerns.” They suggested that the most effective way to achieve reform is through “student activism.” By being “pro-active presidents,” they hope to instigate student involvement. Dining Services is a major concern for Daen and Pulde, who have proposed a “flex-points” system that would allow students to use meal points at local businesses. Economic issues were also on their agenda, and they asserted that most of their proposals will come at no extra cost to the College.
Both tickets agreed that the most important role of CC is to be the main liaison between the students and the governing bodies of the College. Daen and Pulde expressed unhappiness that students “are not being contacted about what’s important,” Pulde said. Brickley and Tcheyan proposed to create a student committee that provides a voice about budget cut decisions.
The candidates were asked to give their views on Claiming Williams Day. Daen said, “The idea and motivation of Claiming Williams is great and should be continued,” but observed that “it left students feeling that the campus is somewhat divided.” Pulde added that the campus “needs to build the strongest community possible,” which he hopes will be possible through more community outreach programs.
Tcheyan said that Claiming Williams gave students an opportunity to speak openly about what he admits can be very difficult topics to talk about. “It was an incredible day,” he said. “It gave us a great insight and a new way to look at these issues.” He discussed his perspective on such issues, citing experience as director of WOOLF working to increase diversity within the program.
When asked what they believe iis the most pressing issue the College faces, Brickley and Tcheyan named campus unity. They said that they hope to improve the neighborhood system and strive to keep student-run programs, such as the JA system, as they are. One of their initiatives to unite the community is to utilize a more hands-on approach to academic advising, in which advisors would become a more integral part of a student’s college experience.
Daen and Pulde, on the other hand, put quality of student day-to-day life at the top of their list of importance. They explained that they hope their proposed changes to the meal plan system, which is modeled on programs at other colleges, and their eco-friendly idea of “Eph Rides” – a bicycle rental facility which would operate much like Zipcar – would greatly improve the standard of living.
After the candidates finished answering the prepared questions, each ticket addressed a final question to the other. Daen addressed a question specifically to Brickley, calling into question her accomplishments after having been on CC for two years “and not reaching out” for student input. Brickley refuted the factual basis of the question, citing her involvement in several CC initiatives and efforts to communicate with the Class of 2010 via e-mail.
In turn, Tcheyan questioned whether his opponent’s platform focused on the most pressing issues facing the College. The pair said that their platform focused on changing students’ everyday lives, which should be the focus of CC.
Daen concluded by telling those present, “We can make concrete changes on this campus.” Brickley and Tcheyan encouraged people to come forward to talk to them. “We are pretty friendly, I promise! We want to serve you,” Brickley said.
Candidates for the class representatives also had a chance to give short speeches before the debate. Those running for Class of 2012 representative include Newton Davis, Sam Jonynas, Charlotte Kiechel, Ivette Stanziola and Sara Wallace. Emanuel Yekutiel is running as the sole candidate for the Class of 2011 representative position, as is Joya Sonnenfeldt for the Class of 2010 position.
Elizabeth Jimenez ’12 and Ifiok Inyang ’11 contest the position of Minority Concerns representative. Rachel Hudson ’10 is running uncontested for the position of Treasurer, and Zach Evans ’12 and Gretchen Krieg ’10 are both running for the position of Secretary.
Voting opens at 10 p.m. tonight and will end at 10 p.m. on Friday.