Thirty years ago, the Minority Coalition (MinCo) was created to protect and give a voice to minority communities on campus, such as people of color (POC), international and LGBTQ+ students. In the recent past, many MinCo groups have felt disappointment in the disregard College Council (CC) has for the resources these communities need to face the issues that plague them. Such issues include, but are not limited to, a lack of representation of MinCo members on CC, FinCom being an unwelcoming space, and general distrust of the student government as it currently stands.
We, as three students, took up the responsibility of representing MinCo in the process of fundamentally restructuring student government at Williams by joining the Task Force. The three of us specifically belong to the International Student Association (ISA), Muslim Student Union (MSU), Queer Student Union (QSU), Vista, and the Coalition for Immigrant Student Advancement (CISA). We believe that to create the change that MinCo groups need, input from the members of the coalition was essential to the process, which is why we were glad to see that three seats on the Task Force resolution were reserved for MinCo representatives.
Based on the way minority communities have been treated, we came in expecting to fight for MinCo’s place in the conversation to create a new student government. To our surprise, we did not face any opposition. Instead, we found overwhelming support from the rest of the Task Force when it came to issues concerning these communities. We saw much willingness to learn about MinCo’s administrative operations, as well as its relationship with CC in the past. In addition, the individuals that made up the Task Force represented even more communities and MinCo groups, such as Gospel Choir, Students of Caribbean Ancestry (SOCA), and Koreans of Williams (KoW). With their help, we had the opportunity to engage in conversations about identities the three of us did not represent so that we could better voice their concerns as part of our work.
The Task Force resolution created internal conflict within CC. Some members believed that the Task Force would fail to address the historical and systematic failures of the Council, instead proposing a sort of “reformation” of the current system. Fortunately for the student body, and unfortunately for those members, the Task Force proved very productive and successfully managed to whip up a proposition for student government that specifically addresses the historical, problematic issues that CC has tried to tackle. We, as the Task Force, managed to do College Council’s job for them — a job that has taken them years to do — in only three and a half weeks.
We believe the Three Pillars plan effectively addresses the problems mentioned earlier. While we must acknowledge that no student government can represent every single student, the Three Pillars Referendum does well to represent the various student groups on campus. By creating an easier method to obtain funding, smaller groups that have not had many opportunities to create events can now have access to a funding pool that was previously managed by a system that doesn’t acknowledge those who do not know how to participate in it. Our proposed funding body, FAST (Facilitators for Allocating Student Taxes), has a seat reserved for a member of MinCo that aims to facilitate the funding process for all MinCo groups on campus. TABLE (The Advisory Board for Lobbying and Elections) ensures that all student-faculty committees are filled and operate throughout the academic year to work on solutions for campus issues. The Williams Student Union serves as a safety net by providing the student body with a voice and a formal method to communicate with the administration. As a whole, the three pillars function as separate entities to guarantee that students’ skills and experience are respected by allowing them to focus on the work of the body they choose to apply for.
Should the Three Pillars proposal be approved, the future bodes well for minority voices on campus. This new system for student government is designed to be a better space for POC, international, and LGBTQ+ students on campus. MinCo and its groups will finally have the opportunities to participate in student government. Hopefully, we can, one day, have diversity in our student government that mirrors the diversity of the Williams College community.
As the Minority Coalition representatives on the Task Force, we fully endorse the Three Pillars proposal.
Onder Kilinc ’23 is from London, U.K. Balint Szollosi ’22 is from Budaörs, Hungary. Hipolito Vazquez ’22 is from Panorama City, Calif.