On Monday evening, the College Council (CC) co-presidential debate brought students together in Baxter Hall to hear from two pairs of candidates. The two tickets, Liz Jimenez ’12 and Mustafa Saadi ’12, and Francesca Barrett ’12 and Nick Fogel ’12, were given an opportunity to address the student body, introduce their platforms and respond to questions about their campaign promises. Each set of candidates made opening remarks, which were followed by questions from Record Editor-in-Chief Austin Davis ’12 on campus issues. Each pair then questioned the other on their respective platforms before offering a few closing statements.
The debate was held after all of the candidates running for other CC representitive positions gave speeches. Despite the late hour, Baxter Hall was filled with students interested in hearing what the candidates promised to bring to the College.
The opening remarks of both co-presidential candidate pairs were fairly similar. First, Saadi emphasized his ticket’s interest in cultivating a “Williams community.” Jimenez brought up specific campaign promises, including plans to “bring back the weekend” and start a staff appreciation day. Jimenez also mentioned her experience as a member of the Currier Neighborhood Board and added that she and Saadi are both JAs.
On the other side of the debate, Fogel started his ticket’s opening remarks, mentioning his and Barrett’s focus on uniting the College and bringing students together, citing Mountain Day, Claiming Williams Day and Homecoming as examples of events which strengthen the concept of community at the College. Barrett followed Fogel’s remarks by highlighting her experience as CC treasurer and promised to address the key issue of class over-enrollment.
Following the opening remarks, each pair of candidates was asked a series of questions on pressing campus issues. The first question was about what candidates would do regarding the perceived athlete/non-athlete divide on campus. Saadi and Jimenez answered by citing successful measures to bring athletes and non-athletes together, such as the Claiming Williams event “Yard by Yard” and all-campus student forums. They also proposed a plan to encourage students to attend theater and artistic events as well as sporting events at the College. Fogel and Barrett, on the other hand, described the divide as a “manifestation of the larger issue of lack of unity” on campus. They proposed a plan to expand Winter Carnival, including creating an ice rink on Paresky lawn that would bring the whole campus together. The pair argued that planning and executing outdoor events is a successful way to bring the campus together and eliminate a sense of division in the student body.
The second question was in regard to the recent turnover in the College’s administration and how the pairs, if elected, would work with the incoming administrators and staff members during the course of their term. Both pairs gave similar answers mentioning recent personal experiences working with the new administration and also citing their past experience on CC.
The third question was more general and focused on what discussions candidates would like to jumpstart as CC co-presidents. Jimenez and Saadi promised more grassroots input from individual student groups, while Barrett and Fogel promised to continue CC’s recent discussion on passive homophobia on campus and to sponsor collaboration, not competition, among student groups.
The two pairs of candidates were then given a chance to ask each other a direct question. Fogel and Barrett were asked about the logistics of one of their big promises, building an ice rink in Paresky lawn, and the feasibility of such a plan considering the cost and possible weather complications. The pair pointed out that the plan was not the only thing they wanted to bring to campus and referred to the success Bowdoin College has enjoyed with a similar installation. “At Bowdoin, where a similar thing happens, it is an opportunity for the whole campus to come together and share wonderful memories,” Fogel said.
The pair mentioned that they had already talked to the administration about their plan and had received approval “as long as the grass is not damaged” which, according to the pair, Bowdoin has achieved.
Saadi and Jimenez were asked what specific steps to create a community they would take. Jimenez emphasized how CC has the potential to yield significant power and influence over the student body if in the right hands and promised to channel different student voices if elected to CC.
In her ticket’s closing statement, Jimenez spoke about how CC’s role is to serve the student body. She promised that if she and Saadi were elected, they would put the students’ interest at the forefront, work to serve the student body and deliver “feasible ideas to Williams.” Barrett closed the debate by talking about how an essential part of commitment is experience and that she and Fogel have that experience, as well as the devotion and commitment to work for the College community.
Voting, which is being conducted by e-mail ballots, commenced last night at 9 p.m. and will close Friday at 9 p.m.