After several days of suspense, sophomores Zach Pilchen and Valerie Hopkins have emerged as the new Student Assembly president- and vice president-elect. While we welcome the potential for a new era of student politics, the newly elected representatives do not have time to rest on their laurels, and the students they represent must demand accountability and action in relation to their concerns. Students are being treated as second-class citizens by the city of Williamsburg, alcohol and sexual assault policies remain a concern for many and students have grown increasingly apathetic toward SA proceedings. These issues, and a host of others, require prompt and dedicated attention.
p. The current town and gown situation is an issue that is both contentious and dear to the student body. As a major rallying cry used by Pilchen during his campaign, the issue of student voting rights, modification of the three-person housing rule and generally improved relations with city administrators are goals that must be pursued expediently. We recognize that Pilchen and Hopkins’ connections with the city are a question mark for some. However, Pilchen will now have the opportunity to cultivate working relationships with city officials in this pivotal time. Furthermore, his tenacity has been admirable over the past year and during the campaign, at times his activist and demanding approach can be less effective in real-world politics, and it would be prudent for next year’s SA executive to tackle city issues in a diplomatic and reasonable way.
p. With regard to campus alcohol policy and sexual assault issues, there are perhaps no two subjects that are more controversial. Pilchen and Hopkins mentioned sexual assault in their platform, and the issue is clearly one to which student voters have responded. The creation of a female-centered, special interest housing option and re-examination of existing policies are certainly good starting points, but it will take much more than a review of the current policy’s shortcomings to move forward. Education must be revamped and expanded, not just for freshmen, but for all social classes. We look forward to a continuing dialogue on this important topic.
p. Alcohol policy is arguably the more challenging of the two subjects, particularly since effective reform involves working closely with a College administration that is fearful of change. Many senators ran on tickets that advocated honest and functioning medical amnesty for alcohol violations, and we hope that these candidates will work with Pilchen to ensure that this is accomplished. However, alcohol policies at a state institution and Campus Police’s role in enforcing these policies are not likely to bend easily. Our representatives must be careful to avoid a stalemate with Campus Police and the College administration and understand that even the smallest change in alcohol policy is sorely needed.
p. We hope that students will see an improvement in SA efficiency during Pilchen’s term as president. A responsible executive is important, but a lean set of functioning committees is also necessary to accomplish the goals of the new administration. The internal bickering of the senate, though not necessarily a reflection of its leaders, must cease immediately for the benefit of the students it represents, and we hope that Pilchen will be instrumental in enhancing the credibility and level of accomplishment of all members.
p. Our new leaders must hit the ground running. There is much work to be done.