By: Jeana Quinlan
Coe students voted on Wednesday to elect Toby Lister ‘24 and Max Gorden Mercer ‘24 as the new student body president and vice president, respectively. They will take over for outgoing president Jack Rey ‘22 and vice president Parker Laney ‘21.
Lister and Mercer ran as a pair against Trinity Bias ‘23 and Cassie Villarreal ‘24.
The election centered around issues related to DEI, on-campus parking, and the growing tensions between students and the Board of Trustees, among others.
On Monday night, the two candidate pairs shared their ideas and vision for Coe at a debate that was held via Zoom.
Bias and Villarreal have known each other since elementary school, growing up in a diverse community.
“Freshman year…I experienced a bias incident,” said Bias.
“I did not want to be here anymore…but I knew that me leaving wouldn’t solve these problems.”
This experience pushed Bias to become more involved on campus. She wants to be a voice for students who may feel the way that she did.
Villarreal’s reasoning for running alongside Bias evolved over the course of the campaign as she talked to more students.
“While talking to a lot of students here at Coe, there were many that didn’t know what Senate was or what we are able to do,” said Villarreal. She wants to make sure that students are aware of the things that the Senate can do to advocate for them.
Lister wanted to create a campaign platform that will work for everyone on campus.
Gorden Mercer decided to be Lister’s running mate because he enjoys communicating and engaging with students as part of the Student Senate.
“Figuring out issues and working with students through the problems that Coe has is something that I am really passionate about and something that our platform really points itself to,” said Gorden Mercer, “we can’t do this, just us alone, it has to be Coe students working together to do it.”
Each candidate highlighted the unique strengths that they will bring to the table if elected.
Lister highlighted his involvement in Student Senate. Through his position as an executive, he has worked with both students and administration.
Gorden Mercer highlighted the community-building skills that he has gained through his experience as an RA and on SAC.
“That community building aspect is what makes a student body…that’s what I can bring to the vice presidency role,” said Gorden Mercer.
Bias feels comfortable speaking to people from different backgrounds and being able to get them to a goal. She is also highly involved on campus, being a part of clubs like BSEO and NCC, as well as being a CAP Leader and CoeHort mentor.
Villarreal’s strengths come from her social personality and attention to detail, as well as her campus involvement.
“I have been able to meet and talk with a lot of different people…I have created many good connections not only with students, but also with faculty and staff,” said Villarreal.
For DEI initiatives, Bias and Villarreal would like to encourage cultural awareness through events. They would also like to improve housing and spaces for clubs like International Club and Multicultural Club, as well as improving the Queer Resource Room. Finally, they would push for Coe to create mailing lists in languages other than English.
Lister and Gorden Mercer would aim to build relationships with the DEI office, increase awareness about bias incident reporting, and work to raise cultural awareness on campus.
An ever-present problem at Coe is the parking. Both pairs of candidates outlined their plans to address this issue.
Both Bias and Lister called for more transparency in where students can and cannot park. Lister expressed interest in building a parking lot along 14th Street, a proposal that he says Coe officials have been receptive towards.
Tensions between the Board of Trustees, students, and staff and administration have been an ongoing issue at Coe. Each candidate had plans on how to address these tensions.
Bias highlighted her experience with writing the demands that were presented to the Board of Trustees in November, as well as her meetings with administration.
Gorden Mercer would like to see the Board prepare a semi-annual report written with students in mind. Additionally, Lister would fight for student representation on the Board.
“Coe students are involved, and the Board of Trustees and administration need to work with us and listen,” said Gorden Mercer.