This fall, a revamped College Council (CC) will hold elections for several newly-formed positions. There will now be three representatives per class for sophomores, juniors and seniors in addition to one representative from every first-year residential hall.Additionally, CC has created vice president posts in four areas of general concern: academic affairs, community and diversity, student organizations and student affairs.
Among CC’s duties are distributing a $400,000 per annum budget among student clubs and events, appointing student-faculty-administration committee members and helping launch student initiatives on campus.
CC’s structural changes were ratified on Sept. 5 after 94.79 percent of the 922 participating students voted in favor of these adjustments to the old CC structure. Of those who voted, 3.04 percent were opposed to the changes and 2.17 percent abstained.
CC co-presidents Krista Pickett ’13 and Peter Skipper ’13 credited an extensive push towards outreach for the increased turnout in elections, as CC elections have been marked by low turnouts in recent years.
Pickett also credited the availability of petitions for the high turnout. CC took a petition around at entries and also had a petition at their table for the Purple Key Fair. “The point of that was to make it as accessible as possible,” Pickett said. The petition, on which a signature counted as a student’s vote, also included an honor code on the top stating that students should not sign the petition if they had already voted online, and vice versa.
“We could have probably not done as much outreach for the election as we did, but we also wanted to make sure people knew about the changes,” Skipper said. “We think it’s always good to have people running for positions, and the more contested the election, the higher the turnout, and we saw that as an opportunity to get people excited for the elections.”
CC’s structural changes include the creation of a number of new positions and the reallocation of duties among CC members. In picking the new vice presidential positions, CC agreed that the interests and attention of the majority of students will likely fall into these four categories. The vice president for academic affairs will be responsible for working with faculty, administrators and students on academic initiatives. The vice president for community and diversity will be a member of the board of the Minority Coalition in addition to a representative on the Finance Committee and a chair of the Committee on Diversity and Community. The vice president for student organizations will act as a liaison between CC and student groups on campus to provide institutional and financial support. The vice president of student affairs will write policies relating to student life and work with administrators and staff to resolve issues regarding student life on campus. Finally, the associate treasurer position has been institutionalized to oversee budget distribution and
other finances. Each of the class year representatives will serve a semester-long term, as will the associate treasurer. Vice presidents will serve yearlong positions, as will the treasurer and the co-presidents. Additionally, a provision to allow an individual to run for president independently has been included.
Pickett and Skipper were instrumental in realizing these changes.
“We were looking to compose a College Council with which people can people identify,” Pickett said. “Having Vice Presidents for certain areas of interest that frequently arise and multiple representatives who represent a broad constituency of students will hopefully allow for a more diverse student government and engaged relationship between College Council and the student body.”
By opening up a number of new offices, CC hopes to increase both participation from all class years and the approachability of the organization. This second goal is achieved by the election of class representatives.
In moving away from neighborhood-based representation, CC recognized that “students generally do identify with their class year [and] the student body at large may be more likely to approach Council, thereby allowing it to fulfill their needs at Williams,” Pickett also said. The former model of the Council did not reach a broad enough cross-section of the student body.
Neighborhood representatives will serve out their terms until the February CC elections. At that point, vice presidents for 2013 will be elected, as will a new ticket of co-presidents and a new treasurer. All of these individuals will serve yearlong terms. In addition, new semester class representatives and an assistant treasurer will be elected in February.
Voting for the Sept. 26 elections, in which semester-long class and house representatives and an assistant treasurer will be elected. A meet-the-candidates event open to the entire student body will be held on Monday.