EC president stresses utmost importance of “civil discourse”

The Phi spoke with Mason Grist, ‘18, to hear about the Executive Committee president’s goals for the coming year

Rachel Hicks

With one term behind him, Mason Grist, ‘18, said he’s prepared to dive into his second jaunt as president of the Executive Committee of the Student Body.

The Executive Committee facilitates two of the hallmarks of Washington and Lee—its honor system and student self-governance.

It can be difficult to learn the ropes as president of the dually responsible organization, Grist said. But having overcome that learning curve during his sophomore year, he’s moving forward to implement new ideas and policies for the community.

We caught Grist during one of his few blocks of free time last week and asked him what’s on his mind for this year.

Q: What wisdom was passed down to you from   the former president, Wilson Miller?

Wilson told me you’re here to be a student, first and foremost. It’s easy to become someone who’s not a student when you’re constantly interacting with faculty and people like President Dudley. Even though much of your time may be spent meeting with non-students, make an effort to be present in your community physically.

Q: Why did you choose to run again after it was such a big job your sophomore year?

I knew our school was going to be going into a crucial conversation this year. Especially after the events in Charlottesville, it’s important to talk about those kinds of issues. We don’t want students to feel like they can’t voice their opinion. It’s time for us to discuss and decide who we want to be. Plus, it’s an honor to interact with the level of perspective that our students have here.

Q: What do you hope will come from the white      book review this year?

It’s an outside perspective of how the EC recognizes things. The EC has to approve 9 people to be on the committee by Oct. 1. This happens every three years. We hope to get well-rounded perspectives of how we can better our Honor System.

Q: The EC recently created the student body

resolution. Why is this important?

The EC drafted the resolution in conjunction with student leaders of the Student Judicial Council (SJC), Student Bar Association (SBA), Res Life, the InterFraternity Council, the PanHellenic Council, the Student Association for Black Unity and Hillel. We want this resolution to establish respect in our community. It’s how we think we should think as a school, and we hope the rest of the student body agrees with us by signing. I think we do a good job of respecting each other at W&L, but it’s never a bad idea to reaffirm our commitment to civil discourse.

Q: How has it been working with President Dudley so far?

I was actually on the presidential search committee, so I took a part both in interviewing President Dudley and in getting him hired. I’m a big fan girl for him. He has a strong belief in student self-governance, but he also wants to be supportive. He wants us to have difficult conversations and solve problems on our own without him or other faculty, though he wants to help if we ask for it.

Q: As we begin a new school year, what’s on the top of your to-do list as president of the Executive Committee?

I’m excited to talk about this school in a constructive manner. Being civil as a student body is something I hope to encourage. We have the honor system, which gives us that foundation to commit to being civil. Hopefully we can use the student body resolution as a stepping-stone to creating discussion groups or platforms to talk about today’s issues in a free and open way. Also, the EC will split in five and five when reviewing people applying for certain positions. That will make interviews more intimate and hopefully less intimidating.