CC presidential candidates advocate accessibility, transparency

In this week’s College Council (CC) elections, students will choose between two co-presidential tickets: Krista Pickett ’13 and Peter Skipper ’13, and Darryl Brown ’13 and Kevin O’Connell ’13. Polls opened yesterday at 4:30 p.m. and will close Thursday at 4:30 p.m. 

Peter Skipper ’13 and Krista Pickett ’13
Peter Skipper ’13 and Krista Pickett ’13. Photo by Sevonna Brown.

Pickett and Skipper

 

Pickett, the current CC secretary, and Skipper, the current vice president of Dodd neighborhood, are running on a platform advocating better communication and collaboration between CC and the student body. They also stress a return to the core functions of CC as both a source of funding for student groups and a liaison between students and administrators.

Outside of CC, Pickett is a JA, a member of the Committee on Educational Policy and the CC-organized Mental Health Committee and a former board member of both All Campus Entertainment (ACE) and Wood neighborhood. Skipper is one of the founders and co-presidents of the College Democrats, a tour guide, a Springstreeter and a member of the Committee on Undergraduate Life. Skipper also served on CC and the Finance Committee as a first-year.

The pair is advocating a “back-to-basics” approach to CC governance. According to Skipper, this means a renewed focus on CC’s three core functions – allocating the Student Activities Tax, appointing students to student/faculty committees and serving as the voice of the student body to administrators – with a stronger emphasis on communication and collaboration.

“Not only does CC have to do its primary functions properly, but it needs to do [them] in a way that is not isolated from the rest of campus,” he said.

The pair cited poor communication between students and CC as a major issue it hopes to address. “One of the things we’ve heard in meetings with students is that it’s sometimes difficult to get in touch with CC; either they don’t know who their CC reps are or e-mail is not the most effective way to get in touch with [them],” Skipper said.

The pair also cited the CC website as a source of confusion and indicated that CC and the College in general is far behind peer institutions such as Amherst and Middlebury in the quality and clarity of its web pages.

Pickett said that they will focus on “looking at what it is that Council does and how it can serve as a resource to the student body. We’re looking at a back-to-basics approach in the way that we do funding, making sure that it reflects student needs, reaching out proactively to student groups to see what they’re doing and how [CC] can help.”

If elected, the pair will aim to follow through on promises to expand and improve student services by expanding CC’s Superfan program, revitalizing the Student Activities Resource Center and working with Dining Services to improve the student dining experience.

They also plan to initiate large-scale projects such as improving the CC website, organizing a second “You Are Not Alone” event to address issues of mental health on campus and working with the Office of Student Life to make the advertisement of student resources and social programming clearer and more visible.

“We will make a task force to look at the shortcomings in the social scene … to really look at what students expect from the social scene and [what] we aren’t delivering on,” Skipper said, again citing poor communication and complicated funding procedures as an impediment to good social planning.

Pickett and Skipper also expressed concern over President Falk’s e-mail last Thursday regarding the incidence of sexual assault at the College. They said that they have been in contact with Rape and Sexual Assault Network (RASAN) organizers and will steer CC to aid RASAN and ensure that rape and sexual assault prevention is a priority for the administration.

Pickett views the pair’s experience with CC and student leadership as an important credential in qualifying them to serve as co-presidents. “We are aware of the areas where [CC] isn’t doing well, and we’re more than willing to work to change them,” she said. “We’re lucky in that we do understand how [CC] works, and that’s a really essential aspect … knowing all these bylaws, knowing the precedents, but also seeing where they don’t work.”

 

Darryl Brown ’13 and Kevin O’Connell ’13
Darryl Brown ’13 and Kevin O’Connell ’13. Photo by Sevonna Brown.

Brown and O’Connell

 

Brown and O’Connell said they offer a fresh perspective on student governance, as neither has served on CC before. “We’re almost prepared to say in this case that having credentials of having been part of CC in recent times is not necessarily a recommending credential to the typical Williams student,” O’Connell said.

Brown currently serves on the Honor and Discipline Committee, is a Baxter Fellow and is a member of the debate team. O’Connell is a member of the rugby and debate teams. When asked about their qualifications, Brown stated that any student should be qualified to lead CC. “We think the idea that you need to be qualified in a certain capacity to lead CC is a problem with the status quo … We want our CC to be more accessible to students,” Brown said.

The Brown/O’Connell ticket is running on a slogan of “Creating Williams,” a phrase the pair believes embodies many of their policy proposals ranging from rape and sexual assault to ACE and the social scene on campus.

“We are about individual empowerment, giving students both the resources and the feeling that they are capable of creating the change they want to see at Williams College,” O’Connell said.

If elected, Brown said that the pair’s first act will be to pass a resolution moving CC meetings from their traditional locale in Hopkins Hall to the more central Baxter Hall in Paresky. The pair believes that this change of venue will make CC more accessible and increase involvement by drawing in passing students.

Brown also proposed a “Creating Williams hour,” a time during which students could gather to “continue the discussions of Claiming Williams Day throughout the year, because one day is not enough.”

The pair is ready to address tough issues on campus, especially sexual assault, and to break from what it refers to as the status quo in CC. “CC right now doesn’t seem to be willing to talk about the tough issues, and if they are … they aren’t willing to do anything,” Brown said. “We think we’re offering students real change.”

O’Connell agreed and stated that he and Brown are “willing to take bold and decisive efforts at change.”

“[CC] has devolved into a group that essentially advocates for its own existence,” Brown said. “So we think that when you’re looking at our ticket, we give you real change in that we’re bringing CC to you and making CC a body that unifies the campus.”