Students question lack of diversity in Scot Council election

Megan Tuennerman

Managing Editor

 

With four out of five open positions uncontested, this week’s 2021-22 Scot Council Executive Board elections left some students wishing for a more diverse and representative group on the ballot. “Scot Council, particularly in our executive leadership, is not terribly diverse,” current President Olivia Proe ’21 acknowledged. “Though we’ve been lucky to have students from all backgrounds in the Council at large, I am hoping that in the future our Executive Board will be more reflective of the student body as a whole.” 

According to Doug Morris ’22, Chair of the Scot Council Social Justice & Equity Committee, the Council is working to rectify this issue in the future by encouraging students from underrepresented identity groups to run for General and Constituency Scot Council positions later in the semester. “I will be personally messaging the group leaders [of organizations that fall under the committee’s constituency] on Teams to ensure that the message is sent through more than one platform. Some of the Social Justice & Equity committee members have stated that they will be attending some of the student organization meetings to encourage more students to run,” Morris said. The Committee is working with various student organizations to encourage members to run. 

Council member Maresa Tate ’21 suggested that, in moving forward, Scot Council should implement the idea of a “call-in” in order to help increase representation of BIPOC and other marginalized groups on Scot Council. Tate explained her idea, stating, “There is this unsaid expectation with some Scot Council members that it is solely BIPOC members’ duty or role to help other BIPOC students — this needs to stop. Thus, I am proposing a time when all newly elected Scot Council members are urged to be the ones to hold out their hands and not wait for marginalized students to call out or for marginalized Scot Council members to speak for and on behalf of other marginalized students because some Scot Council members fail to think of us. The purpose of this call-in would be to have the whole campus community come together to talk about what worked, what didn’t work and what we want to see moving forward. This is especially important for the voices of marginalized student groups.” 

Proe weighed in on Tate’s idea for the “call-in,” stating, “We are hoping to learn from this roundtable discussion how to make executive leadership a more welcoming position to marginalized students, as well as create a space for them to share their concerns about student life that our leadership can keep in mind for next year.”    

Proe added, for students who are interested in running in the general election of Scot Council, that “Applications to run will be due on March 5 and we’ll have a panel on March 8 so the candidates will have a chance to share their platforms with the student body. Elections will then start on the 15th.”

In the election for the Executive Board that was held this week, six students ran for positions: 

President — Abigail McFarren ’22 and Emmy Todd ’22

Vice President — Riskika Todi ’22 

Treasurer — Lilia Eisenstein ’22

Secretary — Elijah Shoaf ’24 

Chief of Staff — Carly McWilliams ’22

When all of the candidates were asked by the Voice why they were running, the following was received:

McFarren: “I wanted to run for President of Scot Council because I care about the student body and want to make Scot Council as effective as it can be. I know that transparency is an important element of student government and an executive board. The student body deserves to know what their elected representatives are accomplishing, specifically those in higher positions of the organization.”

Todd: “I’m running for Scot Council to increase transparency and effectiveness. I believe that Scot Council plays the important role of a bridge between students and administration, and that as President I will be able to strengthen that bridge by increasing efforts to connect students directly to administrators. I also want to ensure Scot Council acts in the most effective way possible by supporting all committees through the Executive Board, and by discussing and implementing reform based on student needs.”

Eisenstein: “I am excited for the opportunity to continue my involvement in student government at the College as Scot Council’s Treasurer.  I want to build on the work that I have done over the past three years as a representative for the Class of 2022. It will be important for my peers and I to continue to emphasize clear communication and to engage with a wide array of students and other members of our campus community in critical conversations.”

Shoaf: “Our campus democracy is only as strong as those who participate in it! Therefore, I want to increase voter turnout and the number of candidates running at all levels of Scot Council.”

McWilliams: “I am running for Chief of Staff on Scot Council because I have the qualifications and work ethic to serve as an effective member of the executive board. The Chief of Staff position is centered on student services, including the airport shuttles and ScotLends student lending service, so I hope to work with others on Scot Council and in our campus community to keep these services running, as well as create new services based on the evolving needs of our diverse student body. I also plan to make sure our executive board is effective and held accountable to the plans we promise to enact, and to cultivate a positive and productive environment in Scot Council to promote more competitive exec[utive] elections in the future.”