CC co-presidents discuss hopes, challenges

On Friday, Ifiok Inyang ’11 and Emanuel Yekutiel ’11 won the College Council (CC) co-presidency with a margin of 1155 to 236 votes over Jon Foster ’11 and Mike Leon ’11. Sixty-four percent of eligible students voted, comparable to last year’s turnout. After Sunday’s CC retreat, the new co-presidents sat down with Yue-Yi Hwa, editor-in-chief, to discuss their perspectives on the election and their hopes for the year.

What were your initial reactions to the results?

Yekutiel: It’s funny – there was a 10-second silence. We were very formal about it.

Inyang: We were hoping it would come out the way it did, but there’s still the shock of being told that it’s true.

Yekutiel: We both spent so much time thinking about the election, campaigning and organizing, that it took a while to reorient our brains and think, that part’s over; we’re not campaigning anymore.

What did you learn from the campaigning?

Inyang: One thing I learned is that CC still needs to actively engage the student body, and keep them up-to-date about the things that we do. There’s still a large group of people that just don’t know the full scope of what CC does.

Yekutiel: Students really appreciated the outreach that we did. They really appreciated being asked, “Have you voted yet?” It was very fun, and I had some really great conversations with people at the polling stations about issues and ideas they had.

What are your main goals for your term as co-presidents?

Inyang: One goal that we definitely want to push is reusing underused spaces on campus. Mainly the Log, but there are a lot of spaces that are either underused or not used at all – students don’t even know that they can be used. We’re going to create an ’82 Grill task force. We’re calling it a “task force” for a reason, to really get this thing going and have the whole College take ownership of it. It’ll be a group of CC students, and maybe other students through self-noms. Everyone has their opinions about this space; even the administration feels it’s an underused space.

Yekutiel: One of the things I mentioned today at the retreat and that I think is really important is being really proactive about connecting the students to changes that are either being made right now or going to be made in the near future: assisting President Falk in his arrival to Williams, keeping students updated about the new dean, working with the MCC [Multicultural Center] in their restructuring, working with the Alumni Office in their search for a new head, keeping students informed about financial aid policy decisions and the housing system changes that will be made. There’s a slew of changes that will be happening and we don’t want these decisions to just be placed on students. We want students to understand how these changes will affect their lives here and to be a part of this change.

During your campaign, you also spoke about funding for club sports and improving the JA [Junior Advisor] and entry system. What are your plans for those areas?

Yekutiel: We want to look at the precedent that has been set for club sports in their funding, and how that compares to varsity sports, and make sure that it’s fair.

Inyang: As a JA personally, getting to see the system both as a freshman and as a JA, I think most students think it’s a necessary component of Williams. We’re not looking so much to completely overhaul it, but just to continually improve it. As the student body becomes a more diverse group of students from different socioeconomic backgrounds and places, just making sure the JAs are trained as best as they could be to handle the issues that happen. We’re trying to work with the current and previous JA advisory boards about their ideas for improvement, because they are on the ground level every day.

Yekutiel: We want to set a committee up that involves students at large, students on the JA advisory board, maybe the JA presidents, maybe Dean Dave [Johnson].

What do you think your biggest challenges will be this year?

Inyang: The challenges moving forward will be the budget cuts this year, and always prioritizing what people really want. Even though we’re in a recession, it doesn’t mean that everything has to come to a standstill. We can continue to improve the school in a substantial way; we just have to be more creative about it.

Yekutiel: There are a lot of challenges in general at Williams that are exciting to work with and to approach. We want to bring a new vision in dealing with those challenges, like CC’s connection with the student body, feelings of inclusion throughout the campus, feelings of connectedness from the campus to the school itself – but the very pertinent challenge is money.

In what ways will this year’s CC be similar to, and different from, previous CCs?

Inyang: Just from the retreat, this looks like a really broad spectrum of the student body. Even within CC Campus [comprising co-presidents, secretary, treasurer, class representatives and the minority concerns representative], half of us are varsity athletes or club athletes. As a group we have a wide range of ideas, opinions and expertise.

Yekutiel: This is the first time we’ve ever done a CC retreat, and this will be a much more productive council, a much more energetic council and a council that works much better cohesively as a group. One thing we really stressed today is representatives getting themselves out there to the campus at large. You’re going to see a much more engaged council.

Why did you choose to run for the co-presidency together? How far back does your working partnership go?

Inyang: It goes back to the spring of freshman year. We both had a passion for Williams and a lot of the same ideas, but yet we also had a lot of differences. He’s very proactive; he’s from the west coast; he’s not an athlete like I am. And on a campus where we tend to label one another based on our differences, I thought it was amazing that I could work with a person and just focus on our similarities and get a lot of things done. The opportunity to run with someone who’s as dedicated as he is, and who brings such a different perspective from what I have – this is a dream job.

Yekutiel: The relationship between If and I has been really great and exciting especially because we work really well together. We met freshman year and I was really impressed with how he works on CC. He’s extremely articulate, and he does everything on CC with a level of seriousness that I really admire. In working with him I saw someone who was just as passionate as I was, and who could connect with lots of different people whom I might not be able to connect with. When it comes down to it, I really think that the best CC presidents are those who can be approached and who can approach as many students as possible, and I think Ifiok and I can do that in a really effective way.

What advantages and disadvantages are there to the fact that you’ve both been on CC since freshman year?

Inyang: The experience on CC gives both of us the opportunity to continue relationships that we’ve already started with administrators, and to learn from previous CCs about how things work, which things work really well and which don’t necessarily work well. As an organization, this lets us approach things in a more efficient manner.

Yekutiel: From the moment we’ve gotten on CC, Ifiok and I have always questioned how CC operates and what we’ve done. In my time on CC, we’ve seen how student groups are funded change considerably. Contrary to popular belief, CC isn’t just a body that sits there. It takes itself really seriously, but it also takes revising its processes and reflecting on what it does very seriously too. We’re not afraid to do that. We have a history of looking at CC with a critical eye and making sure that it’s always doing the best it can, even if that means changing it. We will continue to that. We’re not stuck, we’ve never been stuck and we don’t intend to become stuck.

What would you like your constituents to know?

Inyang: We hope they’re just as excited about this next year as we are, and that they really take to heart some of the challenges that are coming up this year. If they have ideas or suggestions, we hope that they take the effort to reach out to anyone they know on CC. We are really trying to stay connected to the student body this year, and to be as transparent an organization as possible.

Yekutiel: We’d just like all students to feel comfortable approaching us. We say that every CC meeting is open, and we mean that. And we hope that all students will be looking forward to all the things we’re going to bring to the table this year, because we’re planning on bringing a lot.

’82 Grill task force. We’re calling it a “task force” for a reason, to really get this thing going and have the whole College take ownership of it. It’ll be a group of CC students and maybe other students through self-noms. Everyone has their opinions about this space; even the administration feels it’s an underused space.

Yekutiel: One of the things I mentioned today at the retreat and that I think is really important is being really proactive about connecting the students to changes that are either being made right now or going to be made in the near future: assisting President Falk in his arrival to Williams, keeping students updated about the new dean, working with the MCC [Multicultural Center] in their restructuring, working with the Alumni Office in their search for a new head, keeping students informed about financial aid policy decisions and the housing system changes that will be made. There’s a slew of changes that will be happening and we don’t want these decisions to just be placed on students. We want students to understand how these changes will affect their lives here and to be a part of this change.

During your campaign, you also spoke about funding for club sports and improving the JA [Junior Advisor] and entry system. What are your plans for those areas?

Yekutiel: We want to look at the precedent that has been set for club sports in their funding, and how that compares to varsity sports, and make sure that it’s fair.

Inyang: As a JA personally, getting to see the JA system both as a freshman and as a JA, I think most students think it’s a necessary component of Williams. We’re not looking so much to completely overhaul it, but just to continually improve it. As the student body becomes a more diverse group of students from different socioeconomic backgrounds and places, [we just want to] make sure the JAs are trained as best as they could be to handle the issues that happen. We’re trying to work with the current and previous JA advisory boards about their ideas for improvement, because they are on the ground level every day.

Yekutiel: We want to set a committee up that involves students at large, students on the JA advisory board, maybe the JA presidents, maybe Dean Dave [Johnson]. What do you think your biggest challenges will be this year?

Inyang: The challenges moving forward will be the budget cuts this year, and always prioritizing what people really want. Even though we’re in a recession, it doesn’t mean that everything has to come to a standstill. We can continue to improve the school in a substantial way; we just have to be more creative about it.

Yekutiel: There are a lot of challenges in general at Williams that are exciting to work with and to approach. We want to bring a new vision in dealing with those challenges, like CC’s connection with the student body, feelings of inclusion throughout the campus, feelings of connectedness from the campus to the school itself – but the very pertinent challenge is money. In what ways will this year’s CC be similar to, and different from, previous CCs?

Inyang: Just from the retreat, this looks like a really broad spectrum of the student body. Even within CC Campus [comprising co-presidents, secretary, treasurer, class representatives and the minority concerns representative], half of us are varsity athletes or club athletes. As a group we have a wide range of ideas, opinions and expertise.

Yekutiel: This is the first time we’ve ever done a CC retreat, and this will be a much more productive council, a much more energetic council and a council that works much better cohesively as a group. One thing we really stressed today is representatives getting themselves out there to the campus at large. You’re going to see a much more engaged council. Why did you choose to run for the co-presidency together? How far back does your working partnership go?

Inyang: It goes back to the spring of freshman year. We both had a passion for Williams and a lot of the same ideas, but yet we also had a lot of differences. He’s very proactive; he’s from the west coast; he’s not an athlete like I am. And on a campus where we tend to label one another based on our differences, I thought it was amazing that I could work with a person and just focus on our similarities and get a lot of things done. The opportunity to run with someone who’s as dedicated as he is, and who brings such a different perspective from what I have – this is a dream job.

Yekutiel: The relationship between If and I has been really great and exciting, especially because we work really well together. We met freshman year and I was really impressed with how he works on CC. He’s extremely articulate, and he does everything on CC with a level of seriousness that I really admire. In working with him I saw someone who was just as passionate as I was, and who could connect with lots of different people whom I might not be able to connect with. When it comes down to it, I really think that the best CC presidents are those who can be approached and who can approach as many students as possible, and I think Ifiok and I can do that in a really effective way. What advantages and disadvantages are there to the fact that you’ve both been on CC since freshman year?

Inyang: The experience on CC gives both of us the opportunity to continue relationships that we’ve already started with administrators and to learn from previous CCs about how things work, which things work really well and which don’t necessarily work well. As an organization, this lets us approach things in a more efficient manner.

Yekutiel: From the moment we’ve gotten on CC, Ifiok and I have always questioned how CC operates and what we’ve done. In my time on CC, we’ve seen how student groups are funded change considerably. Contrary to popular belief, CC isn’t just a body that sits there. It takes itself really seriously, but it also takes revising its processes and reflecting on what it does very seriously too. We’re not afraid to do that. We have a history of looking at CC with a critical eye and making sure that it’s always doing the best it can, even if that means changing it. We will continue to do that. We’re not stuck, we’ve never been stuck and we don’t intend to become stuck.

What would you like your constituents to know?

Inyang: We hope they’re just as excited about this next year as we are, and that they really take to heart some of the challenges that are coming up this year. If they have ideas or suggestions, we hope that they take the effort to reach out to anyone they know on CC. We are really trying to stay connected to the student body this year and to be as transparent an organization as possible.

Yekutiel: We’d just like all students to feel comfortable approaching us. We say that every CC meeting is open, and we mean that. And we hope that all students will be looking forward to all the things we’re going to bring to the table this year, because we’re planning on bringing a lot.