ASPC Senate Overturns Ban on Parties in Elections

After a group of students calling themselves Slate won a majority
in the Associated Students of Pomona College elections last April, claiming a progressive platform, many students wondered what role political parties or associations serve in campus government and
what contributions Slate has to offer. 

Last year’s ASPC Senate passed a motion in April after those
elections prohibiting students from running together in political parties. That
motion was struck down Oct. 3 by the Senate, composed mostly of Slate
members.

Associate Director of the Smith Campus Center Ellie Ash-Balá, having worked with the Senate for about eight years now, said that the Senate is not any more progressive this year than last year. Rather, the shift to progressivism has been a slow transition over the years that has represented a gradual change in the student body.

“The Senate has become, in general, more progressive,” Ash-Balá said. “Not necessarily because of Slate, but the students that have chosen to engage in the Senate have changed, and as a result we have more diverse candidates running in the candidate pool.”

Junior Class President Elena Cardenas PO ’16, one of the only
students in the ASPC Senate who is not a member of Slate, said that Slate is nothing more than an open list of candidates who run together in the elections.

“Anything could get you on the list,” Cardenas said. “It’s
really nothing, but if you don’t know what it is, you assume those are the
people with progressive points of view and that those are the people you
should be voting for.”

ASPC President Rachel Jackson PO ’15, who was part of the Slate campaign in the spring, said that the campaign was conceived primarily as an election strategy. The subsequent success of Slate candidates has challenged the group to redefine itself as it largely “melded into Senate,” she said. 

“We are flexible,” Jackson said. She called Slate “more of an informal group” at present, without any formal mission statement or clearly articulated goals. And she acknowledged that other Slate candidates might even define the group differently, emphasizing the importance of diversity within their shared platform of progressivism.

“Each person in Slate has very different views, but that is an important strength,” Jackson said. “We are trying to change what it means to be a leader on campus, and that includes having an ASPC Senate that is made up of a diverse group of people.”

Natalie Bolt PO ’17 said that to her, Slate stands for
underrepresented minorities on campus—and not just racial minorities.

“It’s true that they’re not a political party,” Bolt said.
“They’re just working to avoid decisions that negatively affect various
minority groups on campus, and that can include anything from SOCA [Students of Color Alliance] to the LGBT
community.”

Commissioner of Communications Peter Hao Chen PO ’16, a member of
Slate, said that the group runs on an open admission basis to the new members but only because
of its dedication to inclusivity. Nevertheless, he said that Slate engages with
the community in different ways outside of the Senate.

“There’s definitely misinformation about what Slate is,”
Chen said. “We are not a party; in some elections we even have members running
against each other. There are also members of Slate who do not run in any
elections and choose instead to engage in other campus groups such as AAMP [Asian American Mentor Program] and
SOCA.”

ASPC Senate Advisor and
Associate Dean of Students Christopher Waugh emphasized the history of the
Senate and its strong representation of the student body.

“Student government has always reflected my perception of
the zeitgeist of students at Pomona,” Waugh said. “I have not seen a student government,
including this year, that is not reflective of who we are collectively.”

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