Letter to the Editor
By Dan Alter '13
Romen versus Rohan — what’s the difference? They’ve both been involved in the Senate; they’ve both dabbled in Frisbee; they have names that share three of five letters.

More importantly, they’ve both poured themselves into this presidential election, going above and beyond. As a voter, I haven’t experienced a campaign this intense since we sent MassPIRG packing two years ago.

Their efforts have left me really impressed. I’m impressed by their dedication; I know my president is going to be committed. I’m impressed by their ability to motivate the students. Have you seen the throngs of people posting flyers for Romen and caking the sidewalks with Rohan’s chalk? Lastly, I’m impressed by the way they’ve solicited feedback; I know my president will be accessible.

Do they substantively disagree on any key issues? Not really. It’s not like one proposes slashing budgets while the other supports raising taxes (tuitions?). In fact, I think they’re both equally likely to stage an attempt to annex Mount Holyoke College — which is to say, not at all.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any differences between them, and these differences will impact the future of the College.

Rohan is a quintessential relationships guy. I like that. I’m that way, too. It seems like everyone knows him, and everyone who knows him loves him. His talk at Speech Night was frank and personal because he emphasized his connections to the student body and to members of the administration. He mentioned some specific policies, but there were very few he elaborated. Instead, he sent you to his Facebook page to learn what stances he’ll take as President. This stance aggravated some attendees, including Milisa Janda ’13 who stated, “I don’t want to go online to research his platform — that’s what I came to Speech Night for!” But, to Rohan, it seems that leadership is all about relating to people, building a mutual respect and working the issues out together.

Romen spoke about the importance of connecting with the College and building strong relationships. He made note of his weekly Senate column in The Student, which has sparked student dialogue about issues in the Senate. He mentioned his newly-instated “Town Hall” program, bringing student voices directly to the Senate. He also pointed to the creation of weekly meetings with deans as a key accomplishment of current President Saumitra Thakur’s tenure as student body leader.

But how Romen expressed this was telling. Rather than speaking abstractly about the importance of relationship-building, Romen spoke of the specific measures he has taken as a senator to achieve a vision that the two candidates share — improved relationships between students, student representatives and the administration — and he laid out the policies that he will pursue as President.

That’s the mark of a candidate with three years of Senate experience.

Romen showed that strong relationships are not ends in-and-of themselves — they are means that will allow him to perform his duty as President of the student body. When Romen sees a problem, he sets out to fix it. He speaks with a cross-section of the interested parties, builds a team of leaders who share his passion, brainstorms creative solutions and serves as an outspoken advocate for reform until legislation passes. For example, Romen founded the Senate Improvement Committee, which he currently chairs, working to reduce some of the AAS’ inefficiencies.

Romen has the courage to stand up for controversial issues, as shown through his unwavering support of the proposed Budgetary Committee reforms and his weekly contribution to The Student, which caused him to fall out of favor with his peers in the AAS but provided the student body much-needed transparency.

I find that Romen has more than just initiatives; he has clear objectives for his presidency. Unlike Rohan, Romen leaves little doubt as to what he will achieve for the student body. His proposals include:

• later hours at Schwemm’s Coffee House

• a senator contact-person for each dorm

• Add/Drop’s return to a two-week period

• an AAS Speaker Board to provide funding for A-list speakers

The 2011-2012 school year will be an especially exciting time for the College, as it is a transition year. The College will welcome its 19th President, and we can only hope that the new president will be eager to win the affection of the Amherst student body. With any luck, our new president will learn quickly what is on students’ minds and will want to implement changes immediately. When the new president turns to the face of the student body, Amherst College will need to provide a representative with bold initiatives for improvements and the practical experience necessary to turn vision into reality.

Both candidates care deeply about this school, but I believe only Romen has the drive and know-how to lead the College in the direction that puts students’ interests first.

Issue 21, Submitted 2011-04-06 02:37:41