When members of Elections Committee (EC) opened the most recent issue of The Wellesley News, we were disappointed at the coverage of the previous two weeks. We hope here to elucidate a few points that were perhaps a bit misleading in the front page story and share our thoughts on the state of CG Elections. First, the violation, written collaboratively by the entire committee, was not an announcement of risk, but of a charge. The charge had no punitive measures, as EC assumed good intent by the parties involved, and no honor code violation was ever going to be filed. Second, the charge was intended to be a collaborative statement between EC and the candidate, in an effort to foster accountability, something the candidate herself platformed on. Unfortunately, after many attempts to collaborate with the candidate and her campaign team, the attempt to release a joint statement fell through. Lastly, EC was by no means intending to “stir up controversy,” as the front page headline from the previous week regarding the election suggests.
EC has rules that we write and review every campaign season to ensure elections are fair, and we were frustrated that when we enforced them, we were seen as “creating controversy.” We made every attempt this year to minimize stress and discomfort associated with the violation process. Our efforts included prompt notification, flexible availability on our schedule to accommodate meeting times with the offending party and discussing strategies to not make the meeting feel like a serious interrogation. However, the student body generally pays more attention to the drama than the candidates’ platforms, so in some ways, it is a better strategy to let EC appear unfair than admit (even honest) mistakes.
Campaigns and elections are a tiresome and trying process for allthose involved. They put candidates and their campaign teams through considerable stress, but they also have the same effects on members of EC. We also put aside schoolwork and sleep in order to make the elections process as seamless and fair as possible for all students. As a committee of elected and volunteer students, we take great care in creating and enforcing campaign policies in order to ensure equal access and treatment of all candidates running. It is not an easy role, but it is a role we are happy to take on in order to achieve better governance for our college. Members of Cabinet may be forgotten, but elections drama lives on in student memories. Sympathy tends to go to the incoming candidates, not the outgoing students who have served tirelessly for a whole year. What most people likely do not realize is that when you vote for cabinet, you are electing next year’s EC, which is chaired by the College Government President and CPLA Chair and is mostly comprised of Cabinet members.
Entering elections this year, EC was very much aware of the controversy that followed last year’s election, and we did our best to avoid a similar situation this year. We made many concerted efforts in order to follow through on this: we started early, we held an info session about the positions so potential candidates could talk to current Cabinet members, we held info sessions for every single candidate who ran on the ballot or not, both in groups and individually, we hosted poster-making sessions for candidates who were on the ballot and ready to campaign from the first day with opportunities to ask EC questions to make the process less stressful and we made sure point people were accessible for candidates. We made every attempt to be supportive to the candidates during the stressful period, and we hope that next year’s EC continues these efforts. We also hope that the student body will allow EC to support all candidates by ensuring fairness in the election so that our policies are actually enforceable. However, if you think certain elections policies are unfair, applications for next year’s student representative positions will go out sometime next October or November; please apply and be the change you want to see in the elections process and use your voice for the future of Wellesley.