By Elise Donovan ’22

Staff Writer

April 8, 2021

Irini Konstantinou ‘23 and Zaheer Bowen ‘23 will serve as Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ next Student Trustees for their respective colleges. An initial vote for the position was held on March 23, with a Hobart run-off extending the vote to March 24.

These results came at the end of a two-week strenuous campaign and election cycle, as well as a public question and answer forum.

To get on the ballot, students were required to elicit 100 signatures from any student on campus, regardless of class year or college designation, without any public or mass campaigning by Tuesday, March 16. Once a student received the required number of signatures, they were then able to publicly campaign by creating posters, sharing posts on social media, or tabling in the Scandling Center. Candidates then had until midnight on Monday, March 22 to campaign, and ballots were sent to students the morning of Tuesday, March 23.

On the ballot for Hobart were three students, Lucas Amaral ‘23, Zaheer Bowen ‘23, and William Koepp ’23. The two students on the ballot for William Smith were Kate Equinozzi ‘23 and Irini Konstantinou ‘23. In a virtual Q & A Forum to “Meet the Candidates” led by current Senior and Junior Student Trustees Albright Dwarka ‘21, Audrey Platt ‘21, Gib Shea ‘22, and Nuzhat Wahid ’22, candidates answered questions regarding their applicable experience, thoughts on campus inequities, student access to resources, and even their most “unpopular” opinions.

Students began the Q & A by providing opening statements and general introductions, as well as a description of what motivated their campaign. Konstantinou ‘23 described a primary motivator as her work with the COVID Coalition, an on-campus group dedicated to creating better and safer learning environments for students, faculty, staff, and administration during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Through learning and being a part of the coalition, Konstantinou says she “experienced first-hand the lack of communication between branches of our institution, and as a result I realized how they’ve exacerbated existing inequalities and disadvantages that pose problems to learning and teaching during a pandemic.” Konstantinou continued by saying that it was these broken lines of communication that encouraged her candidacy and platform of “community building” in order to best bridge these gaps.

Other candidates focused their platforms on mental health disparities on campus, lack of access to reliable transportation for international students, food insecurity, a push for diversity in curriculum and staff, better connections with the Geneva community, and closer lines of communication between students and the Board of Trustees.

Bowen ‘23 responded to the question, “Taking into consideration the longevity of this role, what led you to run and what will drive you throughout your tenure as student trustee?” by recognizing his experience in encouraging student engagement as President of HWS College Democrats. “We are focusing on incorporating as many students as possible into exactly what makes change possible which is having people’s voices heard, getting that energy, solving that hunger that actually makes people care about the decisions being made.” To do this, Bowen says he wants to “ensure the longevity of DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] curriculum and of students of color on campus … because it’s a really make or break time when you first enter campus.”

The last question of the forum focused on the ongoing discussion of how to contemporize the coordinate structure at HWS. Koepp ‘23 expressed that a key part of finding solutions moving forward is to ensure that no identities or stakeholders are isolated from the conversation. “We want to make sure that women who have chosen to go here because this is a special place with a special bond do not feel pushed out, and that non-binary individuals are comfortable here,” he says. In the end, despite the incredible platforms, responses, and canvassing done by all candidates, Konstantinou and Bowen came out victorious. The campus community looks forward to seeing their future progress as the newly inducted HWS Student Trustees.

Featured Image courtesy of Hobart William Smith Office of Communications.

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