After all the votes were tabulated this weekend, Student Activities Chair Mike Pernick ’10 soundly defeated Student Budget Committee member and former Wesleyan Democrats President Chris Goy ’09, 65 percent to 31 percent, to secure the spot as the next President of the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA).
Saul Carlin ’09, who ran in conjunction with Pernick, won the vice presidency. He beat Peter Lubershane ’10, 71 percent to 23 percent.
In the senior class elections, Ravid Chowdhury ’09 took the title of Senior Class President over Tim Devane ’09. Kenton Atta-Krah ’09, who ran unopposed, was awarded the vice presidency after getting more than the 10 votes necessary for election.
In the race for senior class treasurer, Derek Silverman ’09 eked out a two-vote victory over Joe White ’09, while Jodie Rubenstein ’09 beat Chris Choi ’09 by thirteen votes in the race for class secretary.
President-elect Pernick argues that he won because of his campaign’s focus on the most immediate, pressing issues facing the WSA.
“I think we did so well because our focus was on next year,” he said. “The biggest part of it was that we were very excited to start the job and we’ve talked about reaching out to the student body and turning the WSA into a group that can actually stand up for students, and people responded to that.”
Carlin implied that Goy’s campaign did not focus on topics relevant to the WSA.
“I think we won because we wanted to talk about the issues,” he said. “We made the campaign about the things that were going on around campus rather than the campaign.”
In retrospect, Goy, who registered in the last moments to run, felt that Pernick’s weeks of campaigning gave him a considerable advantage.
“I think Mike and Saul won because they put a tremendous amount of preparation into the campaign,” Goy said. “They had been working on it for a month and they should be proud of that.”
Now that the election is over, however, Pernick and Carlin said they will implement an ambitious new agenda that involves unprecedented outreach to the student body. They are primarily focused on sending WSA representatives to student groups and program houses in order to make such organizations aware that the WSA can lobby on their behalf.
“We want to have a system where group meetings and house meetings can be attended by a WSA representative to give the opportunity for these groups to feel like they are being directly listened to,” Carlin explained. “I think some groups don’t realize we could help them, and some don’t have faith that we could help them.”
Beyond outreach, the WSA’s new executive team hopes to recycle an idea that didn’t work out this year: webcasting WSA meetings regularly for public viewing. Though they know it wouldn’t be the most popular site on-campus, jokingly calling it “Campus C-Span,” the two think that webcasting meetings could be an effective initiative.
“The idea is that someone might stumble across it on Wesleying,” Carlin said. “They might not watch the whole two-and-a-half hours, but it might convince them to come into a meeting.”
Students actually seeing how meetings work, Pernick said, could also be important for recruiting potential assembly members.
“Most people run for WSA without having seen a meeting before,” he said.
Pernick has several other ideas up his sleeve. He plans to make it easier to form ad-hoc committees, as well as to let WSA members move more freely across committee lines, which can often be rigid and restricting. Pernick also looks to enforce attendance rules less leniently than they’ve been in the past.
“One thing I’m going to do is enforce attendance rules very strictly,” he said. “If you don’t show up you’re going to get impeached and it’s that simple.”
Finally, Pernick has also been preparing a new, most likely popular idea for campus life next year: a University-run destination that serves liquor.
“One thing we want to do is get a bar on campus,” he said. “I think it would be great to have it in the Daniel Family Commons. It’s near the top of the agenda for the Alcohol and Other Drugs Committee. We’ve already talked to administrators about it.”
Ultimately, Goy agrees that a WSA that is more in touch with the student body is essential. That sort of relationship, he says, might create a campaign atmosphere where candidates and their issues aren’t as unfamiliar to the general public.
“I think Wesleyan and the WSA would benefit tremendously from a student body that paid attention all year instead of during the election cycle,” he said. “There’s a lot of snap judgments made during campaigns that I’ve seen and been a part of at Wesleyan and I think that a WSA that is more engaged with the student body would provide for a much healthier dialogue in future elections.”
As for Pernick, he may very well face another such election next year, but any speculation, he said, is premature.
“Ask me that in a year,” he said. “Let’s see how the first year goes.”