Of the ten colleges in the NESCAC, Connecticut College is the only one with a specific election process for young alumni trustees. Other schools have trustee positions that are elected by any or all alumni, but Conn is the only NESCAC that reserves representation on its board of trustees for each graduated class of students within three years. Earlier this month, Conn’s class of 2017 voted to select Maurice Tiner ’17 as their Young Alumni Trustee. Nine students ran for the position, and Tiner won in a landslide with 42.45% of the vote. Though it has been in the past several years’ elections, a run-off was not necessary.
“I knew fairly early on that I was going to vote for Maurice because he’s one of the people whose services to the class and to the college I’m aware of… But I think it’s good that there were more people running because I think it shows that our class is going to remain engaged with the Conn community,” said senior Robert James Jones ‘17.
Tiner ran against eight other students for the position, two of whom were SGA President Ramzi Kaiss ’17 and SGA Vice President Virginia Gresham ’17. When asked about their reasons for running, Kaiss and Gresham both expressed that they wanted the opportunity to continue their work in advocacy for the student body.
“I think that Conn works best when students and alumni are included in the decision-making processes made at this school, particularly at the board level,” said Kaiss. Gresham explained that the Young Alumni Trustee position is “important to the board because those who hold the position provide a different perspective as to how the College could change in the future and don’t have to donate money to be in that decision-making space.” The YATs have the same voting and committee power as every other member of Conn’s board of trustees, which gives them extraordinary influence as young recent college grads in their 20’s.
Many seniors are excited about Tiner’s win. Derrick Newton ’17 campaigned for him and said “Maurice really cares for this space [Conn], and I think he’s the best person for the job. I’ve seen his commitment since day-one and it has been nonstop consistent. I’m so glad that he was willing to continue [his work] post-grad.”
Kaiss and Gresham also voiced nothing but praise for Tiner. “I think we all knew that Maurice was going to win from the minute he announced his nomination. He has impacted our class in the most positive of ways during the past four years, and it’s wonderful knowing that he’ll be representing our class on the board,” said Kaiss.
Tiner’s work as an advocate for the student body is undeniable, and it has been felt by his classmates on both community and personal levels. Luisianny Perez ’17 said of Tiner, “He’s very attentive. He listens a lot to what people need and he, just in in our friendship, is always there to give someone a shoulder and advice.” Perez also expressed her confidence in Tiner’s ability to work hard and keep going, “even if he gets super super exhausted you still see him pushing himself to be involved and make sure the voices of students are heard.”
After hearing this praise from other students, the Voice sat down with the winner himself, Maurice Tiner. In the following interview, Tiner discusses his win, his love for Conn and his bright future.
TCV: What inspired you to run for young alumni trustee for the class of 2017?
MT: I think a few things. After having a conversation with Annie Scott, who is a trustee currently [where] she was telling me about the role that she plays as a trustee, one that continues to advocate for the college with donors and other college departments, it was something that interested me. I think junior year when I really pushed for Chakena [Sims ‘16, Class of 2016 Young Alumni Trustee] to win, her winning let me know that I could potentially win. But I think ultimately what really made me want to run for YAT [is] my love for the College and wanting to continue to do the work to help Conn become the place it’s been striving to become.
TCV: How did you feel throughout the campaign process? So many people ran!
MT: I really, really do not like campaigning at all. It’s a sense of vulnerability that I’m not necessarily comfortable with – selling myself to people. I don’t like it, but ultimately you have to do what you have to do in order to get the position. So many people ran, I just did what I could to push my face and push my initiative.
TCV: What made you feel like you were the best person for the job?
MT: I think because I have been so involved in so many facets of the campus community. I’ve been involved in student life, I’ve sat on different committees and hiring committees. I think I’ve already started to do the work – sitting in committee meetings to push specific departments to kind of rethink the work they’re doing. It’s ultimately what trustees do, but of course you have a little more power to make decisions about what position the school moves in.
TCV: How did you feel when you found out you had won?
MT: I was excited! But I was also in a financial aid meeting at the time, so I was getting good news and then bad news about paying off my loans. I thought there was going to be a runoff [election] which I wasn’t that excited about, but it ended up not being that, so I was happy about that.
TCV: What goals do you want to accomplish as you enter into your first year on the Board of Trustees?
MT: My first year I want to get acclimated on what specifically a young alumni trustee does. I know I have voting power, I know I sit on committees and give my experiences to help advocate, but I’m setting up meetings with Chakena and Blake Riley ‘14 [Young Alumni Trustee ‘14] soon to hear their perspective, and I’ll reach out to Eleanor Hardy ‘15 [Young Alumni Trustee ‘15] too, so when I get there I won’t be uncertain as to what the role will entail. And then, whatever committee I’m on I just want to use my voice and use my experiences to advocate in the best way that I can.
TCV: Last year the board voted not to raise tuition. When more controversial issues come up, how will you handle that – especially issues that really affect students and that they’re passionate about?
MT: I will always advocate or speak up from the position that I’ve been in, so I think that’s important. I can’t speak for everybody, so I will always advocate from my experience and from the experiences that I know about of the students on campus. I think it’s tough to say now how I would handle a [controversial issue] because I don’t know things about the school that I’m sure that I’m not supposed to know because of confidentiality. I have to approach everything from a holistic standpoint so I can’t only advocate for my experience, I also have to understand that this is an institution that’s backed by alumni, parents, families, donors etc.
TCV: If you had unlimited power and resources, what’s one thing you’d like to see change at Conn?
MT: I think I would want to figure out a way in which students that don’t necessarily have the financial backing or the financial resources to be here don’t have to work so hard with other jobs to financially support themselves. I think that’s been the number challenge for me, I’ve had to work so many jobs just to maintain myself at this institution. So if I could advocate or change anything anything with unlimited power and resources it would be to allow students of socio-economic backgrounds not to have to struggle as much.
TCV: Have you figured out what you’re going to do after graduation?
MT: Yeah, so I’ll be going to Yale Divinity school, I got a full scholarship, so I’m excited to begin that work. I want to go into the ministry, but within an academic setting like Conn. I would love to be a school chaplain, dean of religious and spiritual like – something like that. I also want to work with youth directly in the church.
TCV: Are you excited to graduate?
MT: I am, I think I’m ready for the next phase in my life, but I will miss being in direct proximity to my close friends – I think that’s what I’ll miss the most. But I’ll still be very connected to Conn because of the YAT position, so I don’t think I’ll have the opportunity to really miss Conn that much, especially since I’ll be right up the road [in New Haven, CT].
TCV: Any specific message you want to send to students as our new Young Alumni Trustee?
MT: Ultimately I appreciate the votes and the support. I’ll always continue to advocate for the school and push to make Conn a better place for all students, despite race or background. And I’ll continue to do the advocacy work that I always have. I love Conn, but like I said in my campaign speech, with that comes a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication to the school.