At its Nov. 12 meeting, College Council (CC) passed a resolution to form a committee charged with drafting a proposal for a new student government. The resolution, authored by CC co-presidents Ellie Sherman ’20 and Carlos Cabrera-Lomelí ’20, passed by a vote of 11-9.
The resolution sets out guidelines for a “Student Government Task Force,” which will meet over Winter Study in order to draft the proposal. It will present the finished product to the student body by the end of February.
CC will deliberate further on the membership of the Task Force next week, but it will tentatively include three representatives from the Minority Coalition (MinCo); two from CC; one from the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC); one from club athletics; one from a performance-based registered student organization (RSO); one from a faith-based RSO; one from a community service-based RSO; one from the Williams Outing Club (WOC); and two at-large student representatives. Additionally, CC will appoint two College staff members to serve on the Task Force, but without voting or decision-making power.
Student members of the Task Force will either be able to register the Task Force as their Winter Study course or receive a monetary stipend of around $800-$1000.
“The amount of labor and time that this will take is substantial,” Cabrera-Lomelí said. “We believe that student labor should be compensated, should be classifiable as academic credit and should be recognized as an integral part of how the College functions.”
Sherman and Cabrera-Lomelí said they hope to solidify the membership by the end of the fall semester.
In its current form, the resolution dictates that at-large student representatives will be selected at random from a pool of students who have submitted self-nominations. Meanwhile, each intra-organizational body will be given the freedom to “self-determine” how it chooses its representative.
2021 class representative Shreyam Misra ’21, who presented his own resolution last week, said he is not confident that Sherman and Cabrera-Lomelí’s resolution will be effective in bringing about actual structural reform.
“Students had one demand for CC: Fix yourselves,” he said. “After spending the majority of this term’s meetings reiterating the need to abolish and/or make reforms, we ultimately sneaked through a bill that committed us to doing absolutely nothing.”
Sherman said she hopes the Task Force will keep CC from spending too much time during meetings debating abolition. “With the Task Force taking on the work of reforming CC, the current members can stop talking about abolition and focus on projects,” she said. “We think it is crucial to incorporate people who aren’t on CC into the conversation. So many people who aren’t on CC deserve to have their voices in this room.”
Misra firmly expressed his faith in the ability of current members to solve CC’s problems themselves rather than relying on an external group.
“Students who are passionate about changing the way CC operates have fought hard to get on CC this term, and the most recently elected representatives come from a range of backgrounds,” he said. “I strongly believe that, as elected representatives, we should be using the extensive feedback we’ve collected from events like the town hall to actually enact change.”
Sherman said the Task Force will take advantage of that history rather than starting from scratch. “Part of what we charge the Task Force with is looking at the resolutions that have been put forward by students in the past, and building on the work that has been done by student leaders before us,” she said.