Lia Lee ’17 steps in as interim president of College Council

In light of last week’s CC presidential election annul

PHOTO COURTESY OF LIA LEE Lia Lee ’17 will serve as the interim College Council president until the special elections close. Photo courtesy of Lia Lee.
Lia Lee ’17 will serve as the interim College Council president until the special elections close. Photo courtesy of Lia Lee.

ment, vice-president of Operations [VP of Ops] elect Lia Lee ’17 stepped up to assume the interim CC presidency. Her term began on March 4, 2015 with the annulment and will end on March 20 with the closing of the special presidential election polls at 8:00 p.m. Kate Flanagan is serving as her proxy as VP of OPs for the next two weeks.

What was your initial reaction to finding out you’d be the CC interim president?

To be perfectly honest, I was a little taken aback. It wasn’t anything that I was expecting. Certainly it’s not every day that you suddenly become the president of College Council (CC), granted you didn’t run for the position. Two weeks ago I, let alone anyone else, could not have expected something like this to happen, but I think in any case I wholeheartedly respect and understand that it is my responsibility as the VP of Ops to fill in for the president in times such as this.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far?

Meetings haven’t really happened yet – our first one’s going to start this Wednesday at 7:30 [p.m.], but I do envision my greatest challenge to be the process of gaining the trust and support of the incoming council as well as the collective [student] body as we work together these next two weeks.

Did you feel prepared to take the position?

With the onset of the annulment for the emergency meeting I definitely expected something like this to happen, and I did talk with Emily and Erica beforehand to prepare for any worse case scenarios in the event that it did happen, so I guess in a sense I was prepared. But then, when it did happen, it kind of hit me, and I realized I needed to start getting things in control.

What are your goals for your brief term?

I don’t have any major projects planned, because my interim term only lasts two weeks, so during this time I’m just hoping to keep CC on its feet until the next presidency is assumed. I told somebody as a joke that if CC doesn’t dissolve before the start of spring break I think I can say I’ve done a good job.

But on a more serious note, I think the current plan would be to train the incoming council for the ways in which CC works, so going over the rules of order, overview of the bylaws and constitution, the process of funding; this will kind of lay the procedural groundwork so that when the new presidents come in we won’t be delayed in any sort of way.

And also, before I knew that I was going to be the interim president, I had some ideas for what I wanted to do as the VP of Ops. One of the ideas I was thinking of implementing was the publicized release of a detailed timeline and agenda well in advance of the Wednesday meetings, because I know a lot of people are interested in select discussion topics and they don’t want to be burdened by staying the entire meeting, so I want them to have the option of coming in at just those select times. A lot of students are under the impression that if you want to get involved in CC you have to stay for the entire meeting, and that is completely false. And so by providing the agenda I think that we can dispel a lot of those thoughts and just encourage a greater number of people to come to those meetings.

How has the experience of being on the council been different this week from your experiences at prior meetings?

So as I said before, the spring term [meetings] haven’t yet happened, but I think the goal is to make sure that there is very little difference; the only difference is that I’ll be in a different seat and running the meeting.

What’d you think of the turnout at the emergency CC meeting last Wednesday?

I think the huge turnout at the emergency meeting showed some warning signs about the way CC governs. The strong response and massive turnout at the meeting just made it abundantly clear that there are fundamental flaws in the way CC works, especially in regards to the special elections committee, so I think it’s important that something like this happen for the community to take a look at the situation and see how CC is functioning and what are the ways we can move forward from this.

[I abstained from voting] because it was going to be a conflict of interest for me if I were to assume the presidency; it’s not something that I wanted, but it was just in terms of [a] formality.

Do you think student apathy regarding CC is its biggest issue? If not, what is?

I think, first of all, the fact that [the emergency meeting and election annulment] even happened is a good starting point for students to see that [CC] is something that’s important and something that they should get involved in. And one of the ways I wanted to address that was the implementation of the detailed timeline. Just last week, there were two students that wanted to come in, and I think we were going to have a discussion about what was going on with Teddy [Cohan ’16] and the whole situation surrounding that, but we didn’t get to that discussion nor was it publicized, and they stayed in there for an entire two hours and then they just left, disappointed. So I think that will be one of the concrete ways we can address that issue. And obviously we will generate student input on what they think could be used for improvement.

I think that [the answer to this question] will vary depending on whom you ask on Council, and I do agree that the apathy towards CC is a big issue. But I think there are greater issues that need to be involved. A lot of people have been talking about sexual harassment on campus and how that’s being addressed and a number of other community issues that I think should be prioritized at this point instead of having to worry about the way CC governs and the way they’re reaching out to students. That’s definitely an important thing, but that’s not something to be prioritized in the long term.

I just want to let the student body know that I will do my best to serve as the interim president, and I would really appreciate their trust and support as we work together towards the next two weeks.