To the Editorial Staff:
Thank you for your editorial on Cabinet; it’s encouraging that the student body is interested about what we as Cabinet work on throughout the year. As far as keeping me accountable, here are the three tenets of my campaign platform, and how I tried to promote them; I leave you all to believe what you will.
Conversation on Mental Health: My original platform was to better publicize the resources we have on campus and make efforts to destigmatize the conversation of mental health illness. This year, Senate hosted multiple peer health student groups to promote their roles as resources to the student body and created an ad-hoc committee which addresses student concerns with resources provided by the College; Cabinet also supported the “Active Steps: Transforming Mental Health on Campus” conference hosted by Active Minds, which the Wellesley News claimed “[opened] up discussion about mental illness and stigma.” Furthermore, I believe that the student body can see the difference in how we speak about mental health. In the Spring of 2013, even when the community lost a member to mental illness, no one spoke about mental health needs outside of their rooms. In the Spring of 2014, students spoke to the administration, faculty and international news sources about how the mental health of individuals affects the emotional health of the entire community.
Student representation in W2025: In the Spring of 2013, the joke was that no construction would begin until 2045; last May, everyone was caught off-guard when Schneider was set to be cleared for construction that summer. Admittedly, navigating W2025 has been a difficult task, as we are the first Cabinet during the renovation projects, and we basically needed to set the precedent for how administration and students will work together to make the projects work for the current student body, as well as the future ones. Since May, I have worked to support student groups such as Pan-Asian Council, Mezcla, Spectrum and WZLY, as they negotiate for the space they need to fulfill their goals for the student body. I have also worked with Dean DeMeis and VP Hammond to create a regular schedule of updating the student body on W2025; Senate will now receive updates three times a year, in April, September and February.
Student Communication and Discussion: In the wake of forums such as Wendy Quiet and Wellesley FML, I have sought to use Senate as a way to actively create the agenda for campus discussion, rather than relying on what students are bringing to Senate. The topics we have covered in Senate are varied, but include: the 2013 Boston Marathon, Printing, Mental Health Resources, Budget Rebalancing, Divestment from Fossil Fuels, the Sleepwalker Sculpture and student representation on College committees. I admit, there still seems to be a fear of discussion where people would disagree, but honestly, widespread culture change isn’t something nine people can do on our own. We are also currently creating a policy to clarify the role CG plays in online discussion.
Another criticism from the News is that Cabinet did not carry on the projects of our predecessors; the truth is, priorities change with the people and the times. Usually, CG exists as a governing body which is, for the most part, functions autonomously from the College; this year, Cabinet members had to play a much more active role in working with faculty and administration than anticipated. We are the first Cabinet during the W2025 construction; we started our terms with the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings, we started our academic year with the departure of two senior deans, we facilitated the activism of students during the divestment talks, we weathered two of the most internationally publicized debates in this current student body’s memory, and we are ending our terms with tumultuous discussions of what diversity means to both Wellesley students and Wellesley College. A conscious decision I made as President was to focus my energy on the issues and needs of the student body at hand, because I believe as elected leaders of the student body, Cabinet’s obligation is to focus on how to best support, not future or past, but today’s students: how over-programming creates, or is created by, an environment of over-achievement and under-appreciation; how students, faculty and administration can work with, rather than without, each other to meet the needs of the current student body and how to balance the need for individual safe spaces with the need to make Wellesley a space safe for everyone.
My platform may have been vague, but I argue that whether we stick exactly to our original platforms is sometimes unimportant. To be honest, when we wrote those statements twelve months ago, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. When the outgoing Cabinet members ran for these positions, we promised that we would do our best to support the community that has supported us, and I ask that the student body hold us, and the next Cabinet, accountable to that promise.
Class of 2014
Outgoing College Government President
P.S. We also met quorum every Senate this year (which has never happened before), as well as doing everything I just said for under $1,000. SOMEBODY has to find that impressive.