BUENOS AIRES – On January 26, 2017, with voting already underway for representatives on the Associated Students of Minerva (ASM), Minerva’s student government, for the Class of 2020 in San Francisco, Class of 2019 students, currently in Buenos Aires, are being introduced to their candidates. The ASM will include three representatives from each class who will work towards solving problems affecting students, and generally ameliorating student life at Minerva.

The candidates for the class of 2019 include: Louis Brickman, Devora Klionsky, Guy Davidson, Rosie Foulger, Matt Baughman, Ailen Matthiess, and Xi Jia Zhou (Matthiess and Zhou were absent from the event). According to ASM commissioner Colette Brown, the purpose of the “Meet the Candidates” is to meet the candidates, hear what they have to say regarding issues and possible proposed changes to the charter which was ratified recently. The event was an opportunity to view the candidates not in the lense of them as friends, but as potential representatives of the Class of 2019 to Minerva Staff.

Questions were posed primarily by ASM commissioners Colette Brown and Roiman, with some coming from members of the Class of 2019. Candidates were given 30 seconds to answer each question with a 15 second extension if they made a comment which generated a laugh. This extension was not meant to alter the seriousness of the event, but to prevent it from becoming overly stiff. Voters asked why candidates felt the ASM should exist and why they should be a representative, what they plan to work on, how to accept and implement student feedback, their understanding of the voting system, how they plan to interact and work with representatives from the class of 2020, and how they plan to address other issues such as those related to housing and work-study.

Class of 2019 candidates present a range of ages, experiences, and interests. However, they are all clearly focused on trying to solve the myriad problems that have arisen over the course of the Class of 2019s time at Minerva thus far. One of the main points that candidates continually came back to was communication, both among students, and between students and staff.

The topic of communication with staff, particularly members of the senior team of Minerva’s administration, came up during the fall semester as students began making arrangements for the coming rotation to Buenos Aires. The candidates proposed different ways of building these bridges of communication. Among students, all the candidates were in favour of office hours and surveys to collect information. Foulger said, “I really like small roundtables” for groups of students dealing with an issue in order to break down what the most important parts were before opening the topic up to a general vote from Class of 2019 students. Yang stressed the importance of remembering that communication between ASM and students will be an iterative process, much like everything at Minerva.

When asked about communication with staff Davidson repeatedly brought up the importance of being involved much earlier in the decision making process regarding the living situation and structure of classes and tutorials, among other situations, than students have been in the past. Davidson hopes that being involved earlier in the process will help to control for and avoid some of the problems faced in the past where decisions were made and by the times students were asked to weigh in, it was often too late to incite real change. Brickman and Baughman brought up the need to mitigate Minerva’s need to “save face” in all situations. Foulger, along the same line, commented that it will be important for ASM representatives to propose solutions that are both beneficial to staff and students. Klionsky raised a point about the leverage power students at Minerva have, and the importance of recognizing this and not being afraid to act on it when necessary.

The candidates brought up the importance of students feeling like their ASM representatives are people they are able to talk to about the different problems. As Yang said in response to a question related to work-study, one cannot go to staff and say “…there are rumours about this happening…”. This applies not just to the work-study program, but to all issues that arise among students at Minerva. Students hope that this election will hopefully produce representatives who students feel comfortable going to about any problem they feel needs to be addressed at Minerva.

The current election will use the single transferable vote system. Shortly after the election, the representatives will participate in a referendum about changing from the single transferable vote system to the Schulze method.

For Minerva students wishing to view the video of the Meet The Candidates Event, can do so here.