The Flat Hat guide to freshman elections: senate candidates

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September 23, 2008

2:55 AM

Ben Battaglia ’12, a resident of Yates Hall, says that he genuinely enjoys the responsibilities of elective office. “I like the feeling of people being able to come to me and express their opinions about an issue,” he said. He noted his extensive leadership experience as both an executive and a legislator. In his Glenview, Ill., high school, Battaglia spent two years as the equivalent of a student senator. During his senior year, he served as the vice president of his student body, where he was partly responsible for managing more than $100,000, an experience that he believes will help him to manage the Student Assembly’s budget of approximately $200,000. Battaglia’s priority as a senator would be student safety, and he applauds senate efforts to improve campus safety, including the recent AED Act. Battaglia intends to pursue a major in international relations.

Stef Felitto ’12 believes that the most significant criticism of the senate is its lack of efficiency, which she traces to the SA’s mandatory parliamentary procedure. Though she does not expect to change the basic workings of the senate, Felitto said she would attempt to speed debate when it begins to draw out and lose its meaning. Felitto has had experience with representative government as a participant in the American Legion program Girls State, as well as Girls Nation, for which she was elected one of two senators from her home state of Connecticut. She served in her student senate during high school, and currently intends to pursue a major in public policy.

Thomas Flaherty ’12 from Culpeper, Va., has had prior experience with politics on both a state and national level. Working as a lobbyist on behalf of the Virginia Association of the Gifted in Washington, D.C., Flaherty became adept at selling “things to the people in power,” a skill that he believes will be useful in the SA. Flaherty supports both the Amethyst Initiative and Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, as he believes that both causes are important for student safety. “Whatever you are doing,” Flaherty said, “you shouldn’t be afraid to go get help.” Flaherty, a Sharpe Scholar, is currently a Botetourt Complex hall council member.

Mark Hayden ’12 believes that his leadership experience in high school is uniquely relevant for the office of senator. As chairman of the Student Advisory Committee to the Director, Hayden worked as a student liaison to his school’s Board of Trustees, an organization similar to the Board of Visitors. Hayden’s involvement in the management of school policy is, in his words, “an invaluable experience” for an aspiring senator. Hayden has several issues that he intends to address as a senator, including dining hall grievances and an overall improvement of the orientation program. Hayden, a New Jersey resident, currently lives in Spotswood Hall as part of the Sharpe Scholar program.

Ben Huffman ’12 had not expected to run for the SA upon arrival at the College. He was convinced to do so by what he perceived was senate inefficiency, and, in the case of former SA Vice President Zach Pilchen ’09, corruption. Huffman said resolution of these issues would be his primary goal as a senator, as he would seek to keep time from being wasted on inconsequential bills and end the “self-interest era” of the SA. Huffman also intends to improve dining services, dormitory conditions and the orientation program. An Eagle Scout, Huffman commanded his NJROTC unit, leading it to a regional championship. Huffman is a member of the College’s ROTC program and is pursuing a double major in government and economics.

Gregory Jackson ’12, a Minnesota native, believes that his ability to interact and relate with others will allow him to best represent the interests of the freshman class. He emphasized communication with his fellow students, arguing that he will be able to translate student opinion into effective legislation. Jackson has had prior experience in both leadership and politics as an Eagle Scout and an attendee of Minnesota’s Boys State. From what he has seen so far, Jackson holds a favorable view of the SA. “It is a unit capable of changing William and Mary for the better,” he said. However, he does support increased accountability for the SA, believing that transparency will help to prevent further misuse of funds. Jackson is currently pursuing a major in international relations.

Alison Jarris ’12 of Vermont said she admires the SA for its accomplishment in maintaining a fully student-run democracy. Jarris was a student representative at her high school, as well as the editor-in-chief of her school newspaper; both positions, she said, contribute to her leadership experience. Jarris believes that her realistic outlook and accessibility would enable her to accurately represent student sentiment and achieve results through legislation. Jarris plans to major in English.

Kimy Javier ’12 from Newport News, Va., draws heavily upon her experience in representative politics in her campaign for senate. During high school, Javier served in student congress and was chosen as one of two delegates from her city to Virginia Girls’ State, where she was tasked with resolving various issues specific to her constituency. Javier has avoided taking specific stands on issues so far, though she has expressed general support for the Amethyst Act, a measure that she believes will, if successful, considerably improve student life. Javier currently lives in Botetourt and intends to major in either history or pre-med.

Betty Jeanne Manning ’12 is focusing on student rights in her senatorial campaign. Manning, a South Carolina native, first became interested in the SA when she heard of the senate’s achievements in expanding student rights, including last year’s Medical Amnesty Act. She cited past experience in positions of responsibility, including the management of a $10,000 scholarship budget during high school, where she also participated in Girls State and Lead America. She believes that her prior responsibilities and participation in representative government will enable her to serve more effectively as a senator. Manning, who intends to pursue a hybrid English and communications major, is currently hall president of Dupont Hall.

Matt Schofield ’12, from Frederick, Md., hopes to bring about a general reform of the Board of Visitors. Citing the recent controversy, Matt said that a voting student member of the BOV would be the best way to ensure that student opinion is taken into account in the management of the school. SA accountability is also an important issue in his campaign, especially due to the recent misuse of SA funds. “People can’t really trust the student assembly,” he said, an issue that he would strive to resolve as a senator. “We need to [have] a lot more accountability … so a problem like this can’t arise in the future.”

Chad Shank ’12 feels communication between student government and the student body is a key issue. “There’s a disconnect right now,” Shank said — a result of a feeling of mistrust in the student body. Shank is confident that he would be able to improve the SA as a senator. “I have the capacity to lead,” he said. “I can make a difference in the William and Mary community.” An Eagle Scout, Shank also wrote and sponsored bills as a member of his high school legislature. Shank describes the current SA controversy as “tragic” for the values of the college, though he does not think that it should dominate SA discourse. “It’s something we need to look back on and learn from, rather than focus on,” he said.

Stuart Shields ’12 believes that he would bring decisive, principled leadership to the SA. Though reluctant to praise himself, Shields nevertheless noted that his prior experiences in various positions of responsibility — as an Eagle Scout and the captain of his high school’s soccer team — will help him to make “informed and intelligent” decisions. A native of Virginia, Shields currently lives in Yates Hall, where he serves as a Hall Representative. Shields intends to major in business.

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