On Monday, Sept. 22, the race for the position of Senior Class President in the 2014-2015 Senate Elections came to a close with the election of Emily Rogers and Stephanie Permut. The pair, whose platform was mainly focused on student self-government, a democratized senate, and transparency within the administration, ran against the team of Owen Marks and Natasha Leonard and the team of Ray Schechter and Delaney Brady.
Permut and Rogers decided to run for the position together during their sophomore year at SLC.
"It was on a whim, honestly," Rogers explained, "I joined curriculum committee sophomore year, but I never thought that I would want to be senior class president until, kind of, being on senate for that first year and realizing that the senior class presidents could be doing a lot more."
Permut added, "It's hard to trace the genealogy of where this originated, but I'm pretty sure we just agreed that we had a shared vision for the direction of the school and what types of administrative steps might need to be taken in order to implement progressive reforms. So I thought that we were a good fit in terms of both accomplishing the things that you need to do to be senior class president as well as extra things that we both think would be good for the direction of the school."
They both agreed that the position has been underutilized to some extent in the past, and Rogers explained that, "it had the reputation of just being something for planning parties, that we didn't get people who would be critically attentive to the overall direction of the school."
Permut and Rogers' official campaign slogan was, "Empower SLC", and their campaign Facebook page laid out their platform in the following points: "principles of self-government & participatory decision-making at our institution, an active, activist, democratized senate, a commitment to diversity, specifically to create connections with our PoC alumni, a check on corporate interests in our school, better beer for the people, and a student senate free of neoliberal interests."
Looking back at the election, both said that they had always predicted an incredibly close race. Despite agreeing that turnout numbers for Senate Elections could be higher, and attributing this to races not being very competitive and people not really following the election, Rogers continued, "I think most voters were able to see clearly the differences between the three candidates," and expanded, "There was a real choice, and that if they voted for one candidate over the other it would be a real difference in what they would see."
Permut added that there was, "Clearly a spectrum of interpretations of the position, and what it's about." She laid out the primary issues that are currently facing this campus as, "size of the college, sexual assault, as a thing that happens constantly and is perhaps reinforced by the culture on campus, and then things like transparency in general, which is very much a buzz word but which we see to mean having administrative processes as well as senate processes being more open and accessible to students."
She continued, "We have a very deep investment in the idea of democratizing senate processes, by which we mean making them more accessible to people who might want to utilize senate. I think we both share the belief that the process by which you would accomplish that is currently very opaque, it's not commonly known to a lot of the student body."
One way they both felt that this issue could be dealt with is by improving intercampus communication.
Rogers began, "Communication between senate and the student body, between the administration and senate, between administration and student body--I mean, those are key issues to the future of the school."
Permut continued, "One of the ways that at least I envision our addressing that would be to utilize the senior class president email address…It seems like a very good and useful opportunity to let people know when certain things in senate are happening that they might have a stake in."
Other plans for the year include creating a student ad-hoc committee to deal with issues surrounding sexual assault on campus, and utilizing their voice to express concerns about the strategies that the school is using to have larger class sizes as well as the ways in which these larger class sizes are being dealt with.
They are also interested in making a queer space available at SLC, citing the disorganization of the queer community on campus, and the fact that most peer institutions (Hampshire, Haverford, Smith, etc.) have one.
Despite clear goals laid out for the rest of the year, Permut and Rogers said, "We're super open to suggestions. If you have ideas about these things, you can absolutely contact us because we're very interested in incorporating [them] into this." Follow their campaign page on Facebook for more information
by Janaki Chadha