As you settle into your favorite armchair in Sawyer, or perhaps onto the toilet for a medium-sized dump, to read the self-nominations for this year’s candidates for College Council President, there is one self-nomination that you will not be reading: that of the Williams Alternative.
Yes, that is the correct, the Williams Alternative sent in a self-nomination, and The Powers That Be denied it–for reasons that are still not entirely clear. The nomination was submitted at roughly 8:15 pm on Saturday night, which is to say well before the 11:59 pm deadline. It is unclear whether this is SOP for these submissions, but the Alternative did receive an email from CC President Marcus A. Christian II expressing his concern (and, to editorialize a bit, dissatisfaction) with the submission. He suggested that the Alternative “Please refer to Article IV, Section 1a of the Williams College Council Bylaws. The numerical designations of ‘(2)’ and ‘(1)’ next to the titles of ‘Co-Presidents’ and ‘President,’ respectively, indicate the number of individuals that can hold the position. Furthermore, all candidates for the positions of President or Co-President must be rising Juniors or Seniors, in accordance with Article III, Part B, Section E of the Williams College Council Constitution. Your organization, while small in size, does not fit into this designation of (1) or (2) individuals.”
Acting on behalf of, and as a spokesperson for, the Alternative, Editor-in-Chief Quentin Cohan responded, in an attempt to clarify the situation, that “The group that operates and produces the Williams Alternative is not running for president, but rather the Alternative itself is. It is (1) candidate running for president, it is not running in conjunction with any students or other clubs. It is currently in its fifth semester at Williams, which would make it a junior, and thus a rising senior.” While the bylaws make claims about the number of candidates, nowhere do they say that a student, rather than a magazine, must be one of said candidates. This was never addressed. The Alternative was told to re-submit the self-nomination with the name of (1) or (2) individuals who would be running, but as this did not really make any sense, since the Williams Alternative was the only candidate, as Cohan’s e-mail made clear, it did not re-submit anything and was promptly disqualified.
Now, skeptics may express confusion as to how a magazine could run a government, and that is a fair concern, and one that is certainly up in the air, but the voters should be able to make that sort of decision themselves. The process, as it currently stands, reeks of anti-democratic and conspiratorial activity to (a) suppress a news outlet that is known for challenging the power structures on this campus, and (b) centralize authority in the hands of a ruling oligarchic élite. If College Council were truly a democracy, as those-who-have-a-vested-interest-in-claiming-it-is claim it is, then the Alternative should have had a chance to make its case to the electorate.
Frustratingly, it is forced to make its case here.
Every year candidates make claims of giving “a voice to the voiceless,” and getting students from all across campus involved in College Council, which are important problems worth trying to solve–as well as problems that the Alternative has an exemplary history of fighting. The Alternative has a small, and dedicated editorial staff, but it runs mostly on submissions–submissions that come from a wide range of students (and not just students, but professors and alumni too!). In the two years of its existence, the Williams Alternative has been the preeminent soap box upon which members of our community have sought to make their voice heard. Some articles have gotten more attention than others, but there is no denying that the Alternative has been more successful in the two categories noted above than anything else at Williams since its creation.
This year’s candidates, qualified as they may be, will make the same empty promises about soliciting ideas from the student body, increasing transparency, and satisfying the afternoon food gap, so if you want to make your voice heard and your vote count, write in the Williams Alternative on your ballot. This year, Vote Alternative.