This year’s election of the Bates College President and Vice President is even more important than usual: in the aftermath of the Student Government temporarily stepping down to protest their lack of purpose, the new leaders will have an exciting opportunity to lead the transition into increased autonomy. Need another reason to be an active voter in this year’s election? This year marks a period of fresh eyes, as two-time President Walter Washington ’19 will be graduating.
There are five candidates for President running in this election, all with extremely different backgrounds and qualifications. All five were present at a Presidential Debate on Wednesday, March 13, where they answered questions posed by Walter Washington and students in the audience.
Julia Panepinto ’20 lost the election for a Student Government Representative as a first-year, but took that opportunity to become Vice President of the Chase Hall Programming Board, where she helped to organise Snowball and other dances. Since then, she has been a representative for two years, and plans to use this experience in office as President.
A key issue for Panepinto is advocating for students, saying, “As President, I think it’s important that we’re here for the students. Instead of forcing students to go to our meetings, we go to them. We ask them what they want, and we work on their schedules.” In particular, Panepinto plans to implement course reviews, give students access to all dorms at all times, work on making more social spaces accessible, and prioritise Government transparency.
Ryan Lizanecz ’20 brings similar experience to the table. He and his Vice Presidential candidate, Lebanos Mengistu ’21, have a combined 5 years of experience in Student Government. During his time as class representative, Lizanecz implemented meal plans over break, made strides toward addressing the parking crisis, and helped to create the Bates Security Council. His action plan for the future includes improving security relations, parking reform, community involvement, creating a new student union, enhancing school spirit, and, like Panepinto, focusing on ensuring transparency of the Administration and Student Government.
Justin Levine ’20 ran last year for President and lost, showing his resilience as a candidate. Although he personally runs track and is a member of Club Volleyball, he tries to go to most athletic events, and is passionate about supporting his fellow Batesies. He describes his spirit and friendliness as being characteristic of his campaign, describing, “Personally, what I bring to the table is being a friend. I have a lot to provide in terms of just being a good friend to people.”
In terms of action, Levine is focusing on mental health through strategies such as advocating for more CAPS faculty; rebuilding relationships with President Spencer and between athletes; promoting school spirit; and other improvements such as adding an additional eatery to campus and requesting small printers scattered around campus.
Leo Crossman ’20, who is running for Vice President and represented Presidential candidate Michael Williams ’20 —who is currently abroad—at the debate, confesses that he has spent the past couple years being an average student. This gives him key insight into the current flaws of Student Government, as he is able to see the reasons why the Government has been unable to access students like him in the past. Crossman and Williams plan to prioritise including increased avenues for students to be able to interact with their student representatives, continuing to work to improve security-student relations, and advocating for the increased power of students in the administration of Bates.
Christian Beal ’21 has a unique background, as he transferred to Bates as a sophomore. This experience gives him the ability to look at the Bates Student Government with fresh eyes, and to give insights and comparisons from his past in another environment. As this is his first year at Bates, he also has a unique investment in the first-year class, as he can freshly understand what it is like to be a new student at Bates. Beal is focusing on government transparency through avenues such as weekly social media addresses, a more strategic disbursement of printers, better social spaces, and increased funding to club and varsity sports.
All five candidates bring very different backgrounds to the table; two are current BCSG representatives, one is a self-professed “average student,” another a transfer, and the last a second-time candidate. Polls are open between Monday, March 18, and Wednesday, March 20 on Garnet Gateway—make sure to vote!