After a close runoff election, it was decided that Hobart student Albright Dwarka ‘21 and William Smith student Audrey Platt ‘21 would be the newest student additions to the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Board of Trustees.
The Student Trustee position consists of aiding the Board of Trustees in decision making and voting and acting as a student voice for different issues and initiatives. In this year’s election, there was a pool of 10 candidates, with two from Hobart and seven from William Smith. In order to differentiate themselves, Audrey Platt and Albright Dwarka worked tirelessly to construct their campaigns, through designing and printing hundreds of posters, as well as constructing and communicating a distinct platform to their respective school populations. To get their points across and better develop these campaign strategies, they participated in a “Meet the Candidates” Q & A forum organized by the Office of Student Activities, where each candidate spoke to a number of questions posed by both students and current Student Trustees.
The questions posed to the candidates regarded their own experiences on campus, what they find to be some of the largest issues facing HWS, underrepresented student populations, and unpopular opinions that they hold. While both Dwarka and Platt had more extensive answers while on the panel, I caught up with them post-election to record some more of their thoughts.
Albright Dwarka, originally from Schenectady, and pursuing a double major with a B.S. in Computer Science and a B.A. in Economics, hopes to combine his many skills acquired through different positions on campus to create important and lasting change. Having worked as Secretary of Hobart Student Government, a Residential Assistant, IT Services Member, and Herald Podcast Editor, Dwarka has leveraged his involvement to gain knowledge and skills of the concerns of students as well as gained the ability to meet and interact with different people around campus to deal with these concerns. When asked what issues he finds to be the most pressing on campus, Dwarka responded not with a list of problems, but with solutions. “This semester I will be working with others to create a student space in Bartlett Theatre and with Dining Services to increase late-night dining options and address the issue of meal plans,” Dwarka said.
In addition to being able to advocate for the voices of students on campus to make a difference, Dwarka is excited to see how decisions are made on the Board, and how students and the trustees work in collaboration to better HWS as an institution. To do this, Dwarka hopes to talk to people who are usually unheard around campus to bring their ideas to the table.
In terms of unpopular opinions, Dwarka holds the belief that “you shouldn’t waste time doing unnecessary things,” which Dwarka explains stems from the idea of being a “lazy programmer,” a term he learned through his work in computer programming.
On the other hand, William Smith Student Trustee Audrey Platt ’21 of San Francisco holds the unpopular opinion that email is a very effective communication tool if used productively. More than this, in order to be used effectively, Platt believes that “the Colleges need to get real about our consolidation of events and correspondence for stronger efficacy.”
As a student, stemming from some of her interests in politics, language, yoga, gastronomy, and music, Platt is majoring in in Political Science and minoring in Studio Arts and Latin American Studies. In terms of extracurriculars on campus, Platt represents the Colleges as an Admissions Ambassador, Resident Assistant, and WHWS radio director where she has “too much fun connecting students with groovy tunes, coordinating events, and representing the Colleges to producers.” Moreover, she has participated in the Seneca Scene, Campus Greens, WSC, HWS Votes, step, and debate, and has also held the role of an O’Laughlin Ambassador. Through the myriad activities that Platt has engaged in, she said that through them she has “gained leadership, dialogue, and problem-solving skills.”
Platt hopes to make use of many of these skills in her new position on the Board of Trustees. Considering herself “first and foremost an RA,” Platt expressed her intent to combine the support she provides to first-years with the ability to advocate for students on a broader scale. On the Board, Platt hopes to work in collaboration with the trustees on the improvement of student services on campus and in Geneva, including mental health services, the LGBTQ Center, Title IX, Hubbs Health Center, and the Center for Teaching & Learning. In working with certain groups, Platt hopes to gain better support and programs for people who identify as LGBTQ through bathroom designation, safe spaces, education, acknowledgment, and, most importantly, fostering a community of respect.
Together, both Dwarka and Platt will spend their junior year learning the position and will then become full voting members in their senior year. However, it is obvious that we will be seeing changes from both of the newest Student Trustees long before then.