CC elections bring new reps to Council

September 28, 2016 by Daniel Jin, Staff Writer

Between Thursday and Sunday, students voted online for this coming term’s College Council (CC) representatives, assistant treasurer and parliamentarian.

CC co-president Michelle Bal ’17 announced the results in a campus-wide email Sunday night. Allegra Simon ’18 will serve in the new position of parliamentarian, and Andres Villasmil Ocando ’20 will serve as assistant treasurer. Simon and Ocando both ran uncontested.

Tressa Palcheck ’17, Sofie Pietrantonio ’17, Annie Sher ’17, Kevin Mercadente ’17, Tony Fitzgerald ’18, Morgan Spellman ’18, Samuel Gowen ’18, Arielle Rawlings ’18, Abel Romero ’19, Lizzy Hibbard ’19, Ziev Dalsheim-Kahane ’19 and Elizabeth Poulos ’19 were elected as representatives for their respective classes.  Sher, Mercadente and Rawlings won as write-in candidates, securing victories with as little as two votes.

Vijay Kadiyala ’20, Maria Heredia ’20, Melinda Kan-Dapaah ’20 and Spencer Carillo ’20 will be this fall’s Sage Hall, Williams Hall, Armstrong/Pratt and Mills/Dennett representatives, respectively.

Donglin Zhang ’19, Jad Hamdan ’19, Alina Lin ’20 and Nicholas Goldrosen ’20 were elected to the Honor and Discipline Committee.

Kevin Silverman ’19 and Teddy Weiss ’19 were elected to the Honorary Degrees Committee, both running unopposed.

Voter turnout dropped from the spring term elections, which has been typical in recent years. Only 31.2 percent of students voted in last week’s elections, compared to 68.8 percent of students in the spring.

CC co-president Caitlin Buckley ’17 said the dip in turnout was anticipated. Due to the commotion that comes at the start of the academic year, fewer people tend to vote in the fall contests.

Michael Rubel ’19, vice president of communications, said he expects turnout to rebound in the spring, when the next CC co-presidents and the executive board are elected. Since fall elections lack those high-profile positions, fewer people vote. “They’re the equivalent of midterms for us,” Rubel said.

First-years had a significantly higher turnout than other classes, keeping in line with the past years’ trend. Residents of Williams Hall led with a 54.73 percent turnout, followed by Mills/Dennett at 52.59 percent, Sage Hall with 43.61 percent and Armstrong/Pratt with 38.30 percent. 32.56 percent of sophomores, 23.33 percent of juniors and 22.95 percent of seniors voted.

Bal and Buckley commended first-years for the amount of self-nominations and votes cast by their class.

“For people who are new and aren’t used to it all, there’s more excitement,” Bal said. “It’d be great if we could invigorate that in the other classes.”

Many of this term’s representatives are new to CC, and they “come in with a new perspective.” Bal, who has been on CC every year of her collegiate career, called the election of new representatives “exciting.”

Bal said that while the co-presidents lead meetings and set the agenda, representatives spend most of their time working on individual projects. Some of the co-presidents’ early ideas are a new wellness organization, an initiative for bystander training for CC groups and a barbecue event geared toward students and professors of color aiming to increase faculty diversity.

Conflicts with Wednesday night classes will cause this year’s meetings to be held at a different time. Bal said the council is “looking at Tuesday nights.” Meetings, as always, will be open to all.

Buckley said one of CC’s major goals this year is to strengthen the link between the Council and the student body. A general apathy toward CC has limited student involvement in the past, she noted. Many students either do not know or tend to discount what CC does. This fall, the co-presidents and executive board plan to continue the effort to educate the community about CC that they began in the spring.

A constitutional amendment created the post of parliamentarian, allowing the former position of vice president of operations to become vice president of communications. The change allows Rubel to focus on outreach. In the spring, he started sending out a weekly newsletter updating the school on CC’s progress. Buckley said students have appreciated the outreach. According to Rubel, the information in the newsletter was previously put on CC’s website, though not many students would view it.

CC’s approval rating, as recorded in the Record’s biannual poll, jumped from 38 percent in spring 2015 and 39 percent in fall 2015 to 64 percent in spring 2016. Rubel attributes this improvement to the greater transparency the newsletter allows.

As CC continues to work hard on its projects, and students see the results, Rubel said that he believes confidence in CC will continue to rise.

He said this term’s CC will try to show people there are “low-commitment ways” to get involved, such as attending meetings as guests or proxies and working on projects with CC members.

One of Buckley’s aims is to “get the student body energized about CC again.” Through an increased social media presence and a new program with monthly meetings between council members and other students, CC hopes to “solicit input and ideas from the student body,” Bal said. “Hopefully each class [representative] is working on things their constituents would like,” she said.

She added that the newly-elected representatives will help them achieve these goals.

Spellman, who recently transferred to the College, said she wants to get to know the class of 2018 and its interests through CC and to promote those interests at meetings.

Heredia said that she is excited to represent Williams Hall and that she is willing to listen to the ideas of anyone in the hall.

“You have to be accessible to people, and you have to relate to them,” she said. “I hope I can offer that.”

“I want our campus to represent our morals, our perspectives [and] our view on the world,” she said. “At the end of the day, it should mold to our beliefs.”

If CC continues to become more open and interacts more with the student body, voter turnout will naturally increase, Rubel said. “People need to remember, this is a big institution on campus that has a lot of staying power and a lot of impact if people tap into it.”

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