CC co-presidential candidates emphasize experience

Emily Calkins ’14 & Ayodele Ekhator ’15 want to maximize student involvement and general input in CC’s initiatives. – Alex Marshall/Photo Editor
Emily Calkins ’14 & Ayodele Ekhator ’15 want to maximize student involvement and general input in CC’s initiatives. – Alex Marshall/Photo Editor
Max Heninger ’14 and Adrian Castro ’14 rank improving the College’s response to bias incidents as a top priority. – Photo courtesy of Emma Rouse
Max Heninger ’14 and Adrian Castro ’14 rank improving the College’s response to bias incidents as a top priority. – Photo courtesy of Emma Rouse

On Thursday, voting will open for College Council (CC) positions for the 2013-14 term. This year, two pairs of candidates are campaigning for the position of CC co-presidents: Emily Calkins ’14 and Ayodele Ekhator ’15, and Adrian Castro ’14 and Max Heninger ’14. Electronic ballots will be distributed by e-mail to students in the late afternoon/early evening on Thursday and polling will close on Saturday at 8 p.m. Results will be announced in Baxter Hall at 9 p.m. on Saturday and an all-campus e-mail annoucing the winners will be sent out shortly after.

In addition to the statements released with the public announcement of their candidacy in an all-campus e-mail, the co-presidential hopefuls communicated their ideas for the College in a public debate last Sunday.

The two teams have distinct visions for the College in their prospective terms. “As co-presidents, we hope to address the central issues challenging our campus today,” Ekhator and Calkins wrote in their public statement of candidacy. “We aim to speak honestly and productively about sexual assault, bias incidents, Honor Code violations and shortcomings in the funding process.” Heninger and Castro mentioned plans for campus collaboration in their announcement. “This is the year CC will work as a team to improve all areas of campus life,” they wrote. “We know this is the year we rise together, newly empowered and moving forward.”

Both pairs cite their experience at and service to the College as qualification for office. “We, as a team, have been involved with College Council, its committees and its initiatives,” Calkins said. “Between the two of us, we have served on the Finance, Lecture, Mental Health, Sexual Assault and Social Life Committees in addition to [serving in] leadership in positions such as Junior Advisor (JA), Baxter Fellow, tour guide and ‘Soph Send-Off’ co-founder.”

Castro and Heninger also have a lengthy list of accomplishments at the College. “Aside from serving as a JA, co-founding Frosh Council, serving on several campus committees, and serving (currently) as the College Council Secretary, Adrian co-founded SuperFan,” Heninger wrote. “As a neighborhood board rep., member of several different committees and a varsity athlete, Max has worked to better serve the Williams community,” Castro added.

Given the caliber of this year’s candidates, each team is working diligently to distinguish themselves against their opponents in an effort to convince voters of their specific eligibility for office. Castro and Heninger point to their work on affecting change at the College – such as creating a committee to increase communication between students and Campus Safety and Security – as a unique attribute of their qualifications. “This is the biggest difference between us and our opponents: We’ve both taken a leadership role addressing issues affecting our campus and worked together extensively to find solutions for these problems,” Heninger wrote.

Ekhator and Calkins cite their drive and visibility on campus as examples of their distinct eligibility for co-presidents. “What we have additionally, though, is something Max and Adrian lack: The vision and visibility necessary to galvanize universal student engagement with Council,” Ekhator said. “Attracting students across grades, athletic teams and academic interests, we already hear a wider chorus of voices. As familiar faces to most, we believe we are more approachable to more people.”

Heninger and Castro explained their chemistry through examples of their work on CC. “Aside from serving on Council together, where we’ve worked to build a more representative Council this past year, the two of us have worked extensively on different issues facing the College, including noise complaints and funding issues, to ensure that all students are well represented and their needs are met,” Castro said. “We believe that our collaboration throughout our time at [the College] makes this partnership very strong and effective. Since we have worked together in the past, we’re able to complement and critique one another at each step of the process, and are ready to work in this capacity for the upcoming year.”

Both teams of candidates have a plan for improving CC’s operations. “The new Council is going to have five new vice president positions, along with the Treasurer, and each is empowered to carry out Council’s mission in distinct areas,” Heninger said. “As co-presidents, we will meet with each of the VPs and the treasurer to discuss the issues facing the campus and identify projects they each want to work on. We believe that this, on top of the many changes we made to the operations of the Council this past semester, will allow for us to utilize many more students to do even greater things for Williams.”

Calkins and Ekhator center their changes to the Council around increasing student input. “We will start by broadening the conversation, dedicating five to 10 minutes at each meeting to have a representative introduce a new voice,” Calkins said. “Our VP of Student Affairs will send an invitation and agenda to three student groups a week in preparation for the meeting, in the hopes that we can hear the voices of more than just Council members.”

To students who don’t currently feel included or represented in CC, both pairs of candidates offer assurance of increased inclusion under their administration. “We understand that Council isn’t perfect and there are a lot of areas where Council can do a better job reaching out,” Castro said.  “We’ve taken the first steps to engage more students and plan on getting even more people involved if we have the privilege of serving as College Council presidents.”

Ekhator and Calkins aspire to improve Council-student interaction to make all students of the College feel represented. “Welcome to the new Council!” Calkins wrote. “Our platform centers around our desire to speak to you, and everyone else who – like you – has not historically felt represented by the voices in Hopkins basement. Our Council will be a place where you are a priority, no matter your experience or your issue.”