Last Wednesday, College Council (CC) debated potential constitutional changes to amend the system through which representatives are elected. Though no decision has been reached, CC will reconvene tonight with hopes of determining which changes to propose to the student body. Any changes decided upon tonight would be formed into a CC resolution that would then be put to a College-wide vote in the fall.
The proposed changes are broken into different areas of concern. All CC members were encouraged to submit ideas to CC co-presidents Krista Pickett ’13 and Peter Skipper ’13.
The 17 suggestions include calls to revamp the class representative structure; a new executive committee structure; initiatives to change the financial positions available on CC; the possibility of non-voting or voting liaisons from outside organizations; motions to replace CC Campus with the aforemetioned executive committee; adjustments to the neighborhood board and class year representation structure; and changes to transform the role of the community and diversity representative into the re-envisioned role of vice president for community and diversity.
During last Wednesday’s meeting, CC representatives were particularly enthusiastic about the prospect of creating a constitutionally required assistant treasurer position that is elected by the student body as a voting member of CC, as well as the move towards a class-year based system. This would codify the current assistant to the treasurer position held by Emily Dzieciatko ’15, which was added as an internal position this year to meet the needs of Council.
CC’s formation currently emphasizes the neighborhood system as the foundation for upperclassmen representation. One of the proposed changes that gained traction during the meeting suggests that CC emphasize class year over dormitory location as a qualification for elections. Additionally, a popular suggestion was to constitutionally motion that the student body elect the assistant treasurer position as a voting member of CC.
One particular plan proposes changing the structure to four semester-long representatives from each class year, elected bi-annually. Another suggests changing the executive committee to include four vice presidents in addition to the co-presidents, secretary and treasurer. The four vice presidents would address particular areas of interest at the College, including community and diversity, student life, student organizations and academic affairs. Different proposals assign the vice presidents different levels of responsibility, either coordinating, chairing or communicating with committees related to their expertise.
“We’ve found that students identify far more with their class year. CC doesn’t govern geographically,” Pickett said.
“If you have three people in one neighborhood who might all be the best qualified overall for their year,” Skipper said, “that’s not fair that they all have to compete for just one spot.”
Pickett and Skipper became interested in considering amendments to the representative structure while reflecting on their own careers in CC, and crafted some ideas based on conversations with other NESCAC student government leaders. While there is a great amount of representation amongst first-years and often sophomores, far fewer juniors and seniors at the College serve on CC. Currently, seven first-years, 11 sophomores, four juniors and no seniors serve on CC.
“Council is supposed to be a group that reflects on what Williams needs and what can be done to make it better,” Pickett said. “It’s beneficial to have first-years because they bring a fresh perspective, but it’s also really helpful to have upperclassmen who have been here for up to three years and have thought about these issues for a longer time. We think this balance is important.”
“We have heard the concern that Council can be really insular, and we think that’s a function of how many seats are open for first-years and then the drop off for upperclassmen,” Skipper continued.
CC reconvenes tonight and will continue discussions about which proposals should be integrated into a written constitutional amendment. In order to change the representative structure, at least one-third of the student body must cast a ballot. Amongst those who vote, at least two-thirds of the ballots must be in favor of the proposed motion in order for it to be verified. If an agreement is reached and voted upon following tonight’s meeting, the proposal will then be sent out to the student body next fall for ratification.