Life in Williamstown may seem uneventful, but between the College and the greater Williamstown community, there is in fact much going on in the town. Students often get involved outside of the College by volunteering in the elementary schools and helping serve food at the Berkshire Food Project. Now, one student is getting involved in a more unique way: by serving as an elected member of the Williamstown Democratic Committee.
Christopher Carley ’18 was elected to the Committee in March during the recent Mass. Democratic primary.
“I went to vote [in the primary] with a few friends, and as we’re walking out, my friend told me that he had written me in [on the ballot],” Carley said.
“I didn’t vote for myself because I didn’t consider that I could be elected,” he added.
However, after hearing that one friend had written him in, he texted a group of his friends via the app GroupMe, half-jokingly asking them to write him in.
“I kind of forgot about it because I didn’t think it was real, and then I got a letter in my mailbox saying I had gotten [elected],” he said.
Carley, unaware that his election was a real possibility, was surprised to be notified of his new position. He explained that he had encouraged people to write him in because he thought that it would be interesting to see what could happen.
“I kind of just wanted to see if I could,” he said.
His first opportunity to embrace his elected office came on Saturday, when the Committee held its first monthly meeting with the newly elected group in the Town Hall building across from Greylock Quad. Carley felt nervous during his walk over; he wondered what the reactions of the other members would be and how he had gotten himself into this situation.
Once inside the Town Hall at the meeting, Carley “brought the average age down by about 15 years,” he said.
At first no one said anything, and the other eight members of the Committee simply stared at him in surprise.
Carley had expected this reaction. Relations with the Commitee members soon got more relaxed. One by one they warmed up to him a little bit, and “they tried to bond,” he said.
The Committee members talked to him about the new Broadway hit musical Hamilton (even though he’s never seen it) and asked about rap music and “the talk of the youth these days,” Carley said.
The meeting itself was a simple organizational meeting in which members ran for various positions within the Committee. Carley decided not to run for anything yet, although he admitted that he may run for one of these positions in the future.
Carley’s work is forming another bridge between the Williamstown community and students at the College. Although this particular committee only represents Democrats in Williamstown, it aspires to get students involved in its efforts.
When the group talked specifically about youth in the community during the meeting, Carley explained, the other members looked at him.
He seems to be taking on the new role of a College representative to the Committee, despite his initial thought that the Committee members would “be mad for making a joke of the political framework of our country,” he said of his concerns going into the meeting that were soon put to rest.
As to his plan for his future on the Committee, Carley hopes to begin by learning the ropes of his new responsibility. “My first goal is to learn exactly what I’m doing,” Carley said.
“I’m looking at it as an absurd thing that has happened in my life, [and I’m] appreciating that something so absurd could happen,” he added.
Carley found that he has less responsibility and power than he had imagined before going into his first meeting this Saturday. He has decided, however, to recognize this position as potential opportunity to springboard his own future political career.
He referenced a Wikihow article that he read about how to become president – “step eight or nine was to get elected locally,” he said, so he seems to be setting himself on the right track.
Carley emphasized that his election illuminated to him that it is “remarkably easy to be elected to the Committee.”
He also added that this event signifies the importance of doing one’s civic duty.
“[It] proves that every vote counts” he said.
Five write-in votes were enough to get him onto the Committee, but if just one or two people hadn’t written him in the ballot, he wouldn’t have this new and ecxiting opportunity.
Carley’s parents were confused at first when he told them about his new governmental role. After an initial concerned phone call, however, during which they thought he was being irresponsible, they agreed that if he took this seriously, it could be a good achievement for him.
“My friends just think it’s funny – they don’t understand it either,” Carley said. But he recognizes that this new, if somewhat unconventional, position is a unique and important opportunity.
The Committe seems to agree; it seems “genuinely excited to have interest from Williams students,” Carley said.
As for what the Committee actually does and what his specific role is in the group, Carley is still a little unsure.
“I’m just going to show up and pretend like I know, and I think that’s sufficient for now.”