Beginning later this spring, students will be able to run for a new position on College Council (CC) as a liaison between CC and the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce Board. Though the position is not a direct component of CC, the elected student will attend all Chamber meetings as a full member with voting rights and strengthen the relationship between CC, the student body and Williamstown. The new position was voted on and passed by CC on Jan. 9.
“This position was created to increase the dialogue between students, the College and the town about where we live and how it meets our needs,” Krista Pickett ’13, CC co-president, said. “The person in this position will represent student interest in an organization made up of businesses, agencies and institutions and will collaborate and communicate with them to develop Williamstown.” The elected student will report back to CC with relevant information and project ideas and also seek student input. The position was proposed and pioneered by Kerry Koehler ’13 as a result of her research project “Economic Growth and Development in Williamstown,” completed during the summer of 2012. It will be used to increase student involvement in business.
“Part of my research included meeting business owners and local government leaders. They all agreed that students are a challenging demographic to access and were interested in that perspective,” Koehler said. “I think a position like this can only help students … The town and the college have similar goals of helping each other achieve success. Separately, each does well, but together, we can accomplish more.”
Koehler has been a Chamber member since her project and recently submitted a proposal for a new member benefit for 2013. She hopes to find someone to assume her responsibilities, which include reviewing and approving minutes and finance reports, after she graduates.
“Because this academic year was the first year for the Chamber position, we ran it as an experiment. It’s been successful, so it made sense to make it permanent,” Koehler said. “The only entity that makes good sense to ensure its continuation after I graduate is College Council.”
The Chamber position will be written into the bylaws by CC. CC hopes this position will help align the College more closely with the town.
“It is interesting to consider how much of our experience at Williams is the product of our unique location,” Pickett said. “We are looking to better incorporate the hard work Council is doing on campus with the work the town is doing too and to find where we might complement one another.”
Later in the spring, the new CC presidents will send out an e-mail soliciting self-nominations for College committees, including the Chamber position. The CC Appointments Committee will then select a new representative for the following school year.
“We are looking for any Williams student, preferably somebody who can serve two full years in a row for continuity, to fill this position,” Pickett said. “Students need to demonstrate an interest in joining the Chamber Board and in communicating with the student body about College and town issues.”