Out of all the college constituencies out there, Wellesley is probably one of the hardest to represent. Wellesley has a notoriously opinionated student body: it doesn’t matter what the issue is, someone is offended about it. Being the sounding board for what students think should be improved can’t be an easy job, and yet, every year, there are Wellesley students eager to take on the task.
The Wellesley News staff would like to acknowledge the hard work of College Government (CG), especially its accomplishments regarding improved communication with students. However, the Wellesley News would also like to point the incoming CG officials to where the current CG left off. Finally, the News would like to remind the student body that the burden of having a strong, effective, respected CG doesn’t just lie with the candidates: Wellesley students need to be active participants in the process – and that means voting – in order to ensure that the process is effective. Additionally, the fact that so many positions remain uncontested, while not inherently a problem, indicates further disengagement from the process among the student body.
One of the most important aspects that Wellesley looked to CG to improve, this semester, was communication with students. This past semester, College Government President (CGP) Hana Glasser ’15 has made a deliberate effort to stay engaged and keep an open line of communication with students. Her “President’s Corner” in the Wellesley News and her regular availability to students have helped keep CG a relevant and prominent part of student experience. Additionally, Glasser’s institutions of IdeaFest, both focused on sustainability and on other miscellaneous improvements that could be made at Wellesley, have been very effective at keeping discussions among students open.
While CGP’s IdeaFests have been a great addition to Wellesley’s campus community and dialogue, some other initiatives that may have been mentioned at the start of the year or during last year’s campaigns have fallen by the wayside.
Although CG, under Hana’s leadership, has done a lot of great survey work regarding mental health, there’s a lot of progress left to be made. Hopefully, the incoming CG will continue where Hana began, making more progress in terms of making mental health resources available to students. Additionally, another area the News hopes the incoming CG will consider is expanding the ethnic studies movement at Wellesley. Wellesley has made progress towards the creation of a Latin@ Studies minor, and we hope that initiative won’t lose momentum going into the next school year.
Finally, this year’s CG did a great job continuing the conversation about the inclusion of trans women at Wellesley. The fact that Wellesley will now admit trans women is directly connected to CG’s advocacy on the issue, and it’s important for us to give credit where credit is due.
CG, however, is more than just the handful of student leaders Wellesley students elect as their representatives every year. Despite being such a driven and opinionated student body, turnout for Wellesley CG elections is always staggeringly low. It’s vital that Wellesley students attend CG debates, vote enthusiastically but thoughtfully, and continue to run for CG positions for the system to best serve the community.
The low-conflict nature of uncontested elections makes Wellesley’s election cycles more pleasant, but we should not avoid conflict at the expense of provoking thoughtful discussion of campus issues. Contested elections invite us to decide on our priorities, and should be embraced, not avoided.
Photo courtesy of Wellesley College Government