ASWC Begins Election Season

Andrew, Schwartz

ASWC will hold elections for positions on the executive council beginning April 9 and ending at 8 p.m. on April 10. The council consists of four members: President, Vice President, Finance Chair and Nominations Chair. Candidates are currently in the midst of a ten day campaigning period, ending with the opening of the polls.

Two candidates are running for each position, with the notable exception of the presidential race, in which AnnaMarie McCorvie is running unopposed. Due to the small size of Whitman’s student body, it’s not surprising that a race could fail to fill out. However, what does draw interest is the fact that the position of President, seemingly the best ASWC has to offer, only managed to successfully pique the interest of one student.

“We probably have one race in the E.C. every year that is uncontested … It’s been a while since the president race has been uncontested,” Director of Student Activities Leann Adams noted.

Perhaps the lack of interest in the position of President is a simple anomaly; but that does not dismiss the fact that uncontested races are a regular occurrence. One explanation for this is a lack of motivation. Many positions falling under the ASWC umbrella are currently under-compensated, a reality which likely results in some qualified students not participating because the income offered is insufficient.

Incumbent Finance Chair Mitch Cutter is aware of this issue, but due to time constraints and the bureaucratic nature of student government, ASWC has not made any headway.

“One thing that I have been working on throughout this entire year is trying to get all of the ASWC positions paid hourly. Currently, we pay our positions by stipend—which results in rough hourly wages that are in the three to four dollar an hour range—which is awful,” Cutter said.

Achieving full compensation would require a sizable increase in the student fee, something that may be difficult to reconcile with keeping costs down and efforts to make Whitman more accessible.

The potential increase is one of the larger issues in the race for Finance Chair, a position typically more concerned with the maintenance of both the ASWC budget and ASWC endowment, that have a combined value of approximately $900,000.

“I oversee those (funds), I maintain ledgers on all of those and I sign off on any transaction that involves the majority of those accounts,” Cutter said, explaining his relation to that sum.

Many of the responsibilities of the Finance Chair consist of various council positions, including serving as a sitting member on the Advisory Council and the Budget Committee of the Governing Boards, as a voting member on the Executive Council and as the chair of the Finance Committee, the latter of which metes out funding for many student undertakings.

In addition to this, Cutter is currently running the entire budgeting process for the next fiscal year.

“Being the finance chair is right up there as one of the most time consuming positions in ASWC, I easily spend ten hours a week doing this job, if not more,” Cutter said of the position.

Candidates have not been dissuaded by the sizable time commitment. Sophomore Ben Cosgrove and junior Chris Meabe are campaigning for the position.

Both candidates have past experience serving ASWC and in the realm of finance management.

The differences between the two are minor and best judged by the individual, a process encouraged by the recent dissemination of Executive Council platforms. Aware of the difficulty of distinction, the candidates remain cordial.

“What separates us is one year, different personalities and different experiences that would inform the job each of us would do as Finance Chair. For someone who’s having a hard time making up their mind, I would suggest that they look at each of our qualifications and past work, and consider what they think is the most valuable experience a candidate should have. Either way, you can’t go wrong!” Meabe, currently studying abroad, wrote in an e-mail.

Candidates will campaign until April 9, when polls open to students for 44 hours during which votes will be cast online.

Following the election, the incumbent and the elected will begin work to transition power.

It’s a lot of really nitty-gritty ticky-tack things just to get done, as are a lot of things with finance, but they are all super important, our record keeping is one of the most important things we do and hopefully I can do a good job of it,” Cutter said.