MinCo holds first open elections

After institutionalizing wide-ranging changes discussed over the group’s March 6 retreat (“MinCo to broaden role on campus,” March 16), the Minority Coalition (MinCo) held its first campus-wide election for board positions from Thursday through Monday. On Thursday night in Paresky, the candidates for various positions had a chance to introduce themselves to students through brief speeches detailing their platforms. Students had to attend those speeches in order to be eligible to vote. The online polls officially closed at 9 p.m. on Monday, and the winners were announced shortly after. The winners are Roop Dutta ’12 and Sora Kim ’13 for co-chairs, Daquan Mickens ’12 for historian, Carrie Tribble ’13 and Mattie Feder ’13 for treasurers and Monica Torres ’13 and Valerie Gonzalez ’13 for communication directors.

The speeches began with the candidates for communications director. There were two tickets competing for the position, Carly Valenzuela ’13 and the pair ticket of Torres and Gonzalez. The candidates all emphasized their desire to bring MinCo groups and events more to the attention of the student body.

Valenzuela emphasized her experience serving in various student organization positions on campus. “I would be committed to informing the student body about our events and current issues as well as building strong relationships with our clubs, administration, alumni and students,” she said.

Torres and Gonzalez mentioned how their experience as Vista board members have helped them gain experience in working with other MinCo subgroups, particularly through organizing various events like the Latino/a Heritage Month. Addressing the lack of visibility and collaboration as the two biggest problems MinCo faces, the pair promised, “to make a positive difference in the Williams community through the Minority Coalition.” Citing the example of Vista’s collaboration with the Berkshire Immigrants’ Center, Gonzalez and Torres showed their willingness to bring issues from outside of the purple bubble to the College.

Next, the only ticket for the treasurer position, shared by Tribble and Feder, explained what they hoped to contribute to MinCo in their shared role. Based on their experiences as MinCo representatives for the Queer Student Union and Williams College Jewish Association, respectively, Tribble and Feder called for a more transparent and efficient funding structure, promising measures such as creating a funding template sub-groups could use when asking for MinCo funding. In their self-nomination for the treasurer position, Tribble and Feder promised to “facilitate that process [of making the funding process more transparent and efficient] by helping member groups keep and submit records of their spending, where they got co-sponsorship for events and the number of people who attended these events. That information will allow MinCo to make responsible and effective decisions about how to distribute its money.”

The role of secretary and historian was contested by three candidates, Stephanie Cardenas ’14, Mickens and Rigo Ruiz-Bonilla ’12. Cardenas described her experience as a minority student and promised to work to get more people involved with various minority events, including making sure that MinCo-sponsored events do not end up being events only for minority students.

Mickens emphasized his experience as a JA and serving on board positions for different student groups, including the Black Student Union (BSU), Sankofa and the Griffins Society. He also talked about a “true” coalition between MinCo subgroups that involves more communication between the groups, mentioning the issue of opening up Rice House, traditionally used by BSU, to other minority groups. “Right now only the co-chairs and MinCo reps are in conversation with each other,” Mickens said. “We need to open the conversation up to the rest of our members of MinCo.”

Ruiz-Bonilla mentioned his experience as a member of Vista and his interests in minority issues. “Having witnessed in the past years the interaction of Vista with MinCo from the outside, as a rising senior, I am motivated to become an active actor at MinCo and be involved in the early stages of their project formations from the inside.”

The speeches by the co-chair tickets, Dutta and Kim and Michael Semensi ’13 and Jorge Tena ’12, came last. Dutta and Kim emphasized the need for more collaboration between different MinCo subgroups in the face of various challenges that face MinCo as a whole, such as recent budget cuts. “We should go directly to the administration, make ourselves heard,” Kim said.

The pair promised to tackle more fundamental issues, including “institutional bureaucracy” and “tired attitudes of the general public” that undermine MinCo’s efforts. They want to remind MinCo members throughout Williams that MinCo is really about collaboration among different minority groups or, as Kim put it, “building in their own roots.”

Semensi and Tena’s speeches were more focused on specific issues, including budget cuts and space distribution among different groups. Tena and Semensi talked about their desire to find the balance between individual groups’ needs and what MinCo as a whole can afford.

“Through our conversations with many MinCo groups and from our personal experiences, we understand that space is an integral part of a group’s identity,” the pair said. “We aim to identify the needs and demands of each MinCo subgroup and move toward a model with unanimous consent.” A similar approach was taken for the ever growing financial needs of MinCo subgroups: “Through a combination of event collaboration, co-sponsoring, budget reallocation and efficient use of alternate sources of funding, all subgroups would be able to meet the needs of their members,” they said.

This election was the first time that the whole campus was invited to participate in the MinCo board elections. In previous years, MinCo board elections had been voted upon by the members of MinCo subgroups alone. In an effort to boost participation in MinCo events, the elections were opened up this year to anyone devoted to minority issues on campus. By attending the candidate speeches, students made themselves eligible to register for the e-mail poll. Also, for those who showed an interest to participate but could not make it to the meeting, an “absentee ballot” was available to students via e-mail as well.