Potential Class Trustees Emerge as Senior Class Council Solidifies

Duncan Standish, Staff Writer

This year’s class trustee election has entered its final phase, just as the senior class council elections have ended. College seniors Joe Condon and Abbas Mohsin are the remaining candidates for the class trustee position. College junior Trey Everett Levy will be next year’s senior class president, with College juniors Eliza Diop and Richard MacGuire as the first and second vice presidents, respectively.

After a preliminary election earlier this month, Condon and Mohsin emerged as the top contenders from an original pool of 18 candidates. Members of the classes of 2011, 2012 and 2013 will decide via e-mail in August which senior will sit on the Board of Trustees for the next three years. Whomever they elect will replace Asishana Osho, OC ’10, and join Luke Squire, OC ’11, and Inyang Udo-Inyang, OC ’12, as one of the three class-elected trustees on the 34-member Board.

The elected trustee will serve to represent the interests of his class. According to Condon, that means emphasizing issues of accessibility.

“For accessibility, that means making sure that Oberlin remains affordable to the students who attend,” said Condon. “It also means accessibility in the physical plan of the school. There are a couple buildings that are being slated to be renovated, and I think those are all worthwhile endeavors, but the plan leaves out a gaping hole which is Wilder, a building which is completely inaccessible to any student with a disability.”

Additionally, Condon said he sees transparency as a priority for students.

“On the transparency side, the College’s finances are pretty opaque,” Condon said. “That’s something that I’d be interested in working on changing, and I’m going to be talking with some folks from the Responsible Investment Organization and other people about how to best do that.”

Condon also emphasized the implementation of the proposals for institutional change recently publicized by students, which he said represents the interests of a large percentage of the student body. He admitted that many of those changes should take place at the administrative level, but said the trustees could also help.

“That means promoting diversity in faculty hiring, the student body and those sorts of things which are policies that the board of trustees has influence over, in part because they approve faculty tenure,” he said.

Mohsin agreed with Condon on the values of accessibility and transparency while emphasizing his desire to “proactively reach out” until he has heard from more of the community.

“It’s important to keep in mind that the main job of the Board of Trustees is to ensure the financial viability and sustainability of the College,” said Mohsin, who has served as co-chair of the Student Finance Committee for a year and a half. “As class trustee, I think my priority needs to be communicating student concerns.”

Mohsin, currently the Review’s business manager, also wants to greatly increase dialogue between students and alumni, which he thinks has been lacking. He wants alumni to be more widely acknowledged as people who are invested in Oberlin’s community.

“If you’re someone who wants to make Oberlin more affordable, as a trustee, you need to be talking to alumni,” he said. “If you’re someone who wants to prioritize the funding that Oberlin alumni are giving back to the College with the priorities of the students, then you need to liaise between the students and the alumni… and so they can find out what the students want, and this is what you should be giving them money for.”

Levy, the senior class president-elect, hopes to do similar things in his own leadership position.

After a week of official campaigning during which he spent all of his print dollars on posters, stayed up for two days posting them around campus and went back every day to check that they were still there, Levy can start planning for next year.

Although he wants first to conduct an open forum for the rising senior class, he emphasized improving student-alumni relations, especially as they relate to life after graduation.

“One of the things that I really want to see is to have speakers or people of knowledge coming into Oberlin and telling students, ‘All right, you’re about to graduate, and this is what’s available to you after you graduate,’” he said.

Additionally, he wants to focus largely on the main goal of the class council: creating unity. He and the two vice presidents have already met with Dean of the class of 2014 Chris Donaldson to explore their jurisdiction and start planning class-wide events.

One hundred and eighty-one juniors voted for four candidates, and Levy won the presidency by two votes. Because of this, Levy sees the job titles more as formalities and expects the three officers to work closely together.

The closest contender was Diop, who hopes to use her position to help her class leave a lasting, physical mark on the institution.

“I think it’s really great for every class to leave their mark in some kind of way before they leave,” she said. “Maybe a gift that makes the student health center more accessible — we can make more progress before we leave.”

First-year Class Dean Shozo Kawaguchi, who administers class council elections, commented that this year’s candidate quantity and voter turnout were normal for Oberlin.