Hey Wellesley Sibs,
This is my last Wednesday column in my tenure as College Government President. I want to first share some pertinent updates and votes from the Senate floor before sharing a few parting words.
On Monday, April 23, College Government voted to change our constitutional language to reflect gender neutral pronouns. While we may institutionally be a women’s college, not everyone on our campus identifies as a woman. We are not able to change institutional language yet, but through participation in the reaccreditation process, we reiterated as a Senate body that this issue is important to our community. We, however, signal through Senate that we hear, see and respect all our siblings at Wellesley College and are making an active effort to work towards a more inclusive space every day. On Monday, April 23, College Government also unanimously voted to endorse the Renew Wellesley Petition to encourage the Board of Trustees to “vote for the power plan presented by the Campus Energy Strategy Committee which incorporates the most renewable energy irrespective of short-term cost. This vote would be an effective first step towards 100% renewable energy.”
It is also in this column that I would like to clarify decisions made by Elections Committee (EC) in this last special election and the voting results which leave the position of College Government President open. On Election Day, a candidate was removed from the ballot as a result of a tier 3 violation. All votes cast for this candidate before and after removal from the ballot were still counted. However, after this removal, the College Government Presidential race became uncontested and, according to our constitutional proceedings, this requires that any candidate running needs 51 percent of the vote to win. No candidate successfully earned 51 percent of the vote.
Elections Committee received requests to recount the votes; however, amendments made in spring of 2017, in the previous College Government administration, removed the prior precedent to ask for recounts given that the ballot is electronic. And because the ballot is electronic, a “recount” does not change the reported results. In the past, when the ballot was not electronic, ballots were handcounted and therefore recounts were necessary. When the ballot switched to an electronic platform, last year’s College Government administration felt that recounts were no longer necessary and made the constitutional change. As per our constitution, the Office of the Dean of Students is responsible for communicating these results to Elections Committee, and in this communication, numerical results are never disclosed to EC, just the names of those who won their races.
There have been calls for elections and campaign reform and a team of dedicated senators are working to review this language while soliciting feedback from our communities across campus. I am heartened that necessary and important changes are coming to a process that all find difficult. At the same time, as your CGP I encourage you to reach out to senators specifically to engage on behalf of their constituents so that the student body can create rules that reflect the ideals and procedures that we want enforced.
It is also through our constitution that I am able to announce that our interim acting College Government President will be Saafia Masoom ’19, the elected CGVP. The Cabinet 2018-2019 will be responsible for running the election that fills this role for the next school year.
We spent our final Senate on Monday, April 23 sharing an End of Year Report. Traditionally, the College Government President always presents it at Turnover Senate. However, our emphasis on collaboration this year encouraged me to adapt this process so that the End of Year Report was led by Cabinet.
Following this report, we heard again from our senators leading constitutional amendments on election reform. Feedback from across constituencies on campus led to changes line by line, and the group will return to the final Senate next Monday, April 30 to follow up again. Finally, we finished Turnover Senate by making a historical change: changing our College Government constitutional language to reflect gender neutral pronouns. It is a change we hope our institution will make in the coming years as well, and this constitution will be shared at the Board of Trustees meeting this Thursday, April 26.
To all the senators and representatives from various constituencies across the college community – thank you. Thank you for holding me accountable, for being engaged and for your service representing the needs of our communities.
It has been a privilege to serve as your College Government President. If I was able to give anything of value this year, it was through teamwork and faith that it was accomplished.
Maryam M. Khan
College Government President 2017-2018