Last Wednesday evening, the College Council (CC) co-presidential debate in Paresky gave students the chance to hear from the two pairs of candidates.
Peter Skipper ’13 and Krista Pickett ’13 faced off against Darryl Brown ’13 and Kevin O’Connell ’13, with each ticket addressing the student body and sharing their aspirations for the upcoming year. Each set of candidates’ opening remarks were followed by questions from Record Editor-in-Chief Meghan Kiesel ’13 regarding a range of campus issues. Each pair was given the opportunity to question its opponents as well before offering a closing statement. This year, the College added a second debate to the CC election season. Candidates gathered once again in Baxter Hall on Sunday evening to answer questions submitted by students in the days prior to the event.
Brown and O’Connell opened Wednesday’s debate, offering the first concrete proposal of their campaign platform: to move future CC meetings from the basement of Hopkins Hall to Baxter Hall in Paresky. The aim of this relocation would be to foster increased and inclusive discussion and allow students to “stumble in” to CC meetings without having to seek them out, Brown and O’Connell explained.
The pair also addressed the long-debated divide between athletes and non-athletes on campus. “We will eliminate any recognition of [the divide],” Brown said. “If people were talking about a black-white divide on campus, it would clearly be a violation of our morals. That is a critical issue on our agenda.”
He also spoke of the ticket’s goal to establish more CC oversight of All Campus Entertainment (ACE) and give students more influence in determining the Homecoming concert performer and ticket price.
He went on to discuss his and O’Connell’s aim to promote transparency in funding allocation.
Brown then spoke at length about the ticket’s goal to raise awareness and administrative response to instances of sexual assault on campus.
“We believe that the administration should not stand on the sidelines while sexual assault occurs … on campus,” Brown said, citing his initiative in sending President Falk an e-mail about the issue as an example of the ticket’s efforts to make the issue more of a focus on campus.
Pickett and Skipper then gave their introduction, describing concepts of increased involvement in and attendance at student events. “We believe in [CC] and the work that it does, but we recognize the work that needs to be done in order to improve,” Pickett began. Skipper then addressed the ticket’s goals of strengthening the Superfan program, expanding color printing opportunities on campus and forming a task force with representatives from the Office of Student Life, the Minority Coalition, ACE and the neighborhoods to evaluate the social scene and discuss ways to improve it.
Pickett spoke directly about CC funding, an issue that proved controversial this past year. “That is not Council’s money,” she said of the $400,000 in Students Activities Tax funding that comes through CC’s hands each year. “That is the student body’s money, and we recognize that it needs to reflect actual student needs and interest.”
Skipper elucidated his and Pickett’s belief in the importance of ensuring that students feel safe on campus. “We will look at ways that CC can advocate for JA hours at the Health Center [and] talk with the chaplains to work with students dealing with grief or questioning their sexual identity,” he said.
Each ticket then answered a series of questions on pertinent campus issues. Pickett and Skipper lead in answering the first question, which asked each pair how they would plan on revitalizing campus spaces such as Greylock and The Log.
Skipper explained that, in his meetings with campus officials, he found that the College has more square footage than do many of our peer institutions, and he spoke to the possibility of moving First Fridays to Greylock to reduce the entry line at the monthly event. Pickett then elaborated on the ticket’s plan to form a task force on the campus social scene, explaining that this was an issue that could be addressed through organized discussion.
In their response to the same question, Brown and O’Connell argued that these issues are byproducts of a larger failure by ACE. “We’re not having enough Friday and Saturday night entertainment being run by student organizations,” O’Connell said.
Additionally, Brown emphasized the importance of two specific types of underrepresented social events: those not involving alcohol and those capitalizing on outdoor venues. The next question addressed several “campus culture” issues. Candidates were asked to identify which issue they regard as most crucial.
Brown and O’Connell answered first, stating that rape and sexual assault is the most serious issue plaguing the campus. Brown discussed a communication gap between the administration and students but cited Falk’s all-campus e-mail, which was sent out on Thursday, as a sign that the administration is willing to improve communication on the issue.
Skipper began his response in saying that sexual assault, the myth of effortless perfection and the entry system “all fall under the umbrella of mental health.” Skipper went on to explain that the team hopes “to continue the work that [CC co-presidents] Nick [Fogel ’12] and Francesca [Barrett ’12] have done.”
The final Record-posed question regarded the gap between students and CC, asking each ticket to outline a plan for its alleviation.
Pickett and Skipper answered first. “We’re looking at ways we can improve the [CC] website,” Skipper said. He suggested that CC hold office hours in Paresky in order to make the incoming Council “visible as resources” on campus. O’Connell and Brown then took the opportunity to expand upon the idea of holding CC meetings in Baxter Hall.
In her ticket’s question to Brown and O’Connell, Pickett asked what they have done to reach out to the Rape and Sexual Assault Network (RASAN) .
“I’ve spoken with a few members of RASAN … Our platform is saying is that the administration needs to assist RASAN,” Brown clarified. He then asserted that his e-mail to Falk earlier in the week had directly prompted the all-campus e-mail on Thursday.
Dean Bolton later clarified that Falk’s e-mail “came because he’s aware of the national problem and the breadth of the problem at Williams. It wasn’t instigated by any individual’s comments.” Marissa Thiel, co-coordinator of RASAN, indicated that she was not aware of any efforts made by Brown and O’Connell to contact RASAN.
At the second debate on Sunday, all candidates for year-long CC positions answered student questions.
April Jenkins ’13, who is running unopposed for CC treasurer on a split ticket with Jillian Schwiep ’13, answered several questions about CC funding. In response to a question about her plans to make it “easier for the average student to understand” CC funding, Jenkins explained that she plans on assigning a member of Finance Committee (FinCom) to work with each student group that receives funding from CC.
Jenkins and Schwiep are running for treasurer on the strength of a bylaw change made effective Feb. 1, when CC voted to modify the bylaw stating that candidates for treasurer must have previous experience working with FinCom. This allowed Schwiep, who has no previous experience with FinCom, to run.
Kate Flanagan ’14 and Camila Miller ’15, who are each running for All-Campus Representative with a Special Focus on Community and Diversity, answered questions on the community’s response to the November hate crime.
Brown represented his ticket on Sunday, as O’Connell was out of town due to a personal emergency.
Concerns that arose during the round of questions between the CC co-presidential tickets included the possible “reform” of WSO to remove old posts, especially on FacTrack, and the fact that O’Connell had transferred to Columbia after his first year at the College and then transferred back. “[O’Connell] came back because he realized he loved Williams and all the positive things about Williams,” Brown said in response.
E-mail voting commenced yesterday and will close Thursday at 4:30 p.m.