New CC co-presidents lay out plans for term

On Friday, Lizzy Brickley ’10 and Mike Tcheyan ’10 won the College Council (CC) co-presidency with a margin of 980 to 414 votes over second-place ticket Nick Daen ’10 and Marc Pulde ’10. The total student participation in the presidential vote was 1394, up from last year’s 1082. The new co-presidents sat down with Sasha Zheng, executive editor, to reflect on the election and outline their plans for moving forward.

The turnout for this year’s election is significantly higher than last year’s. Why do you think there has been such interest in CC elections this year?
Brickley: This is a very interesting year in College history, between the budget cuts and the transition to the new president. It’s really an opportunity for the Williams student body to redefine themselves to the administration, to really set the tone for the next decade.

What are your goals for your term?

Tcheyan: Well, first off, we really do want to establish a committee to work with the senior staff to decide what to cut and what not to cut when we have to make budget cuts next year. That really kind of works with our goal of having student involvement in administrative affairs and giving students a bigger voice on campus.

Brickley: I think another big thing that we want to do is to have CC be more of a place of campus conversation, have it be really accessible to the student body. So our vision is to have a lot more outreach to the students and get a hold on the real student body opinion on different issues and what’s important to them. And also our goals for the year, we want to work on communication- we definitely still want to push on academic advising and reevaluating residential life.

Is there anything you plan on doing in regards to communication to the College that is different from what previous CC administrations have done?

Brickley: Well, actually, you know, tonight we were talking about different ideas for doing that. We want to make sure that everyone knows even simple things – where the meetings are, when they’re happening, what kinds of things we’re talking about. We were discussing starting a weekly discussion, picking a topic, having it accessible to the campus on WSO and really having it be a place where people can go and voice their opinions. Also we want to make the CC Web site more common knowledge – that it exists and is useful to students.

Tcheyan: I think, just a more aggressive approach to getting out the ideas on campus. In the past, we’ve had online polls that have worked effectively. I don’t know if you remember this past fall where we decided what to do with the student activities tax. There were a lot of students’ voices heard, and we think that is some kind of model that can be expanded upon, not necessarily in response to one certain issue but trying to gauge what the student body wants. Things that have been tried in the past, suggestion boxes and office hours, haven’t proven effective.

Brickley: We really want to go with what works best for the students to voice most efficiently without wasting their time.

There were a number of projects in the CC pamphlet attached to the e-mail sent out announcing election results. Are you planning on continuing any of these?

Brickley: One thing that I think is great is the quest to make books more affordable and to really work with the 1914 Library and Spring Street Books …

Tcheyan: … in addition to the textbook reserve program. I use it personally – it’s been very effective. That’s something we’d like to continue.

Brickley: Another area I think we could continue is the Committee on Community Interaction (CCI), continue to communicate with them, really make them the most effective group they can be.

Tcheyan: Right now, there’s a little difficulty in finding what their purpose is and that kind of thing, so we want to communicate better with student committees and student faculty committees as well as to figure out what the best purpose for them is and really have CC be a big part in that.

Is there anything in particular that you’ve learned from campaigning for CC?

Brickley: I think meeting so many people was really wonderful and hearing what they have to say. So many students have opinions on the way the school is run – I think something that was really important to both of us is that we didn’t only meet those people to become elected. Now that we have been elected we want to continue to listen to students and reach out to them with the same kind of vigor we did when campaigning.

Tcheyan: In addition, from campaigning, from having such a heated campaign – although the voting wasn’t so close, I know the campaign was very heated – we’ve had conversations with our opposition. We really want to kind of tap into their group of supporters and figure out how we can work with the rest of the campus. We do feel like we are kind of inheriting a divided campus right now.

Brickley: We want to get rid of the invisible barriers that are separating students. In some ways, it was a polarizing election, and we don’t want to just represent the 980 who voted for us. We want to represent the whole campus.

So how do you plan on doing that?

Tcheyan: Like what we said before, aggressively going to student groups, making people who haven’t spoken to us before speak to us …

Brickley: Really, just taking the time to reach out to people personally.

Tcheyan: We think that’s the most important thing we can do, right now at least. Because the projects that we want to do, they need to be validated by the student body.

Brickley: We need to have student buy-in to be an effective CC.

It seemed like Nick and Marc generated some proposals that were quite controversial and drew a lot of attention. Is there anything from their platform that you might give further consideration?

Brickley: Well, I think, as we mentioned before, the books, we thought that was a great idea. They talked about expanding Spring Street Books, and we’re 100 percent supporting that. I think, really, though, the things to keep in mind is that there were people really excited about and energetic about the proposals, such as meal plan reform, and we are completely willing, if that’s really something the campus values and wants to make a push for, to take on those projects. Before we decide what the campus values, we want to talk to the campus and find out, so maybe, as Mike mentioned before, sending out a survey like when they found the extra money. We really want to go ahead and say, this is what the campus wants, we want to make sure that it is what the campus indeed wants.

How do you foresee sharing the roles of CC co-presidents?

Tcheyan: Lizzy and I have been a team since our first day on campus. We were in the same entry, we were co-WOOLF leaders.

Brickley: We’re really good friends. Mike and I have different strengths, and we know how to work off each other. We communicate really well with each other.

Tcheyan: We support each other really well in terms of, if one of us is really busy at a certain time, one of us can shoulder a little extra load, but really, Lizzy has a wealth of CC experience that I do not have. But I feel like I’m a fresh pair of eyes.

Brickley: Yeah, even the first meeting that Mike sat in, he was already taking note of things that for me, I wasn’t necessarily seeing because I had been there for a while, so it was great to have a fresh opinion.

Tcheyan: And as much as we are a team, we are definitely going to be relying on the amazing support and opinions of our officers and CC Campus. The wheels will not turn without them.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing you as CC co-presidents?

Tcheyan: I think, personally, dealing with the budget cuts, which we are going to attack by creating this student committee, hopefully.

Brickley: I think, also, we want to keep up the same amount of energy that CC currently has as a result of the election. We want to maintain that through the next year as CC presidents.

Tcheyan: There was an incredible amount of energy in this election, and we really want to tap into that.

And how was the victory party?

Brickley: It was great!

Tcheyan: The victory party was excellent. It actually ended abruptly at 1:30 a.m. due to some “visitors,” but we had a lot of fun.

Brickley: We had fun.

Tcheyan: We had a lot of fun.