Williams Re-Elected AAS President
Issue   |   Wed, 04/15/2015 - 00:59
Photo courtesy of Raymond Meijer '17
Incumbent Tomi Williams ‘16 was re-elected as president of the Association of Amherst Students, earning 83.11 percent of the vote and surpassing opponent Taylor Wilson ‘16 by 311 votes.

Incumbent president Tomi Williams has been re-elected, the Elections Committee announced April 11. Online voting was open for 24 hours on Thursday, April 9. Five AAS executive board positions — president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and judiciary council chair — were on the ballot.

Williams won the presidency by a margin of 311 votes against his opponent Taylor Wilson ’16, garnering 83.11 percent of all votes cast.

AAS senator Will Jackson ’18 won the vice presidency by a close margin of 47 votes against Peter Woolverton ’17, garnering 53.37 percent of the vote. Paul Gramieri ’17 was elected treasurer, David Dickinson ’16 was elected secretary, and Hao Liu ’16 was elected judiciary council chair. All three ran unopposed.

There was a relatively low voter turnout for this year’s election, with only 447 votes cast for the presidential candidates, a 39 percent decrease from the first round of voting in last year’s presidential race. AAS Elections Committee Chair Olivia Pinney ’17 speculated that the prolonged controversy surrounding last year’s presidential election scandal may have caused increased political apathy among students this year.

In her role as Elections Committee chair, Pinney helped to design and execute several measures intended to combat the weakened student interest in the executive board elections. Pinney and her colleagues tabled at key spots on campus during election day, encouraging students to cast votes on iPads in Keefe Campus Center and at Valentine Dining Hall.

Pinney said that the use of iPads at polling locations for the executive board election might foreshadow future applications of technology to gather input on student government. “We’ve actually been thinking a lot about how to increase voter turnout in an age where everyone has technology at their fingertips,” Pinney said. “Since you’re walking around campus with your iPhone, if someone from the committee says, ‘oh, you can just vote right now,’ then you can change things, but of course this election was different.”

“We had members of the Elections Committee [point out] that the iPads were available to students,” Pinney added. “We actually imposed some rules on the people who were tabling — you weren’t allowed to talk about candidates, you weren’t really allowed to say anything about the election other than, ‘you could vote for this person.’”

As a candidate, Williams pinpointed several new and continuing initiatives for his second term. He proposed filling two seats on the college’s board of trustees with alumni who have graduated in the past five years, noting that on the current board, there is only one sitting trustee that has graduated from Amherst within the past 20 years. Williams also drew attention to his ongoing cooperation with the administration to improve the disciplinary process for students. He pointed out that he and his cabinet have also brought faculty members and students representing numerous and wide-ranging perspectives together to reflect on the development of student activism at the college over the second half of the last century through today.

In a document called “What We’ve Accomplished So Far” that he released prior to the election, Williams emphasized his previous experience working in the AAS. Themes in the document included transparency and improvements to student life. He also highlighted his role in the expanded intramural sports program, the development of a Student Affairs Advisory Committee and progress on the Social Project Work Group (formerly the Social Club Work Group).

“Because I was only able to get started this past October, we laid the foundations to get a lot of great things done, and it’s exciting to have another year to go full circle and to do all the things we promised to do,” Williams said. “We’ve built great relationships with students and student organizations, and I know we can continue building on that."

Dan Ahn '17 contributed reporting.