Why My Roommate Should be AAS President

I think am the single most qualified person on campus to present an accurate illustration of Tomi Williams. After all, I am his roommate of two years and (reluctant) best friend.

I can tell you that Tomi snores louder than Beats noise canceling headphones on full blast. I can tell you that his rain boots never fail to leave an unholy stench in our room. I can even tell you how obnoxious he gets during games of FIFA. But to avoid embarrassing him, I will not mention any of those things. What I will say is that Tomi, without a doubt, is the President that Amherst needs. I can say this confidently because of certain traits that I have observed in Tomi over the past two years: open mindedness, a deep passion for servitude and innovation and, last by not least, a genuine care for others.

“Can you say your name one more time? I want to get it perfect.” That was the second thing Tomi ever said to me upon moving into our room in James freshmen year, and it really reflects the kind of person he is. Most people I have encountered would rather shorten “difficult” names or just pronounce them however they like, but Tomi made certain to get it right, which actually meant quite a lot to me. He is always willing to leap out of his comfort zone, so that you may remain in yours.

Tomi loves to ask me questions about Jordan, where I am from, and my culture; he even came to visit me in Jordan last summer because he was “desperate” for a taste of my culture and to see me in my element. Because our backgrounds are different, some of our views and perspectives clash. Even though we often differ dramatically in opinion, Tomi comes to every discussion willing to ask questions, listen and be convinced. Amherst is a school of strong, diverse opinions and perspectives, so we need this type of open mindedness in our President so that all students feel heard and represented.

I rarely see Tomi as excited as he is when he gets an opportunity to serve others. This enthusiasm presents itself clearly when he speaks about the non-profit organization that he started and runs back in Baltimore. His NPO sets under-resourced high school students up with internships and academic tools for success. The way in which he pours himself into this work and derives such pleasure form the prospect of helping others in his community is nothing short of admirable to me. Tomi leads his team and staff through service as opposed to dominance because he believes that a satisfied, pleased team will produce the best work for his organization and, ultimately, for the community. His passion for service and leadership method inspires confidence in me that, as President, he will continue to lead through servitude to better his community.

I remember when Tomi told me he was running for Judiciary Council Chair as a first-year; I thought he was crazy, but after looking at the changes he has made on and through the Judiciary Council, I now can make sense of it. Tomi found the JC in a state of chaos. There were no regular meetings, no active or ongoing initiatives and members rarely showed up to the few meetings that were mandatory. As a first-year and the youngest member of JC, Tomi was certainly not going to successfully use force to turn things around, so he instead used his discipline, organization and innovation to do so. He worked to set regular meetings, establish initiatives that the JC members could get excited about and clarified the previously convoluted processes for which the JC is responsible (i.e AAS Club Recognition).

More specifically, there are two initiatives that Tomi has implemented as Judiciary Council Chair that I find particularly exciting: 1. Club Spotlight, a short documentary series meant to give lesser known clubs on campus some much deserved recognition and attention, will be released mid-April. 2. A Mock Judiciary Council Clerk position that works with the JC to both codify its rulings and precedents and complete other initiatives. This position is held by a junior at Amherst Regional High School and is meant to foster a tighter connection between the AAS student government and the wider Amherst town community, especially the local schools.

His various achievements aside, my proudest moment as Tomi’s roommate came when he planned, set up and ran an appreciation luncheon for the Amherst custodial staff. He made a thank you video featuring dozens of students, provided catering from Pasta-E Basta and even got the Bluestockings a cappella group to perform. The event was well attended by both custodial staff and students, but more importantly, the custodial staff was touched to realize how much we genuinely appreciate them. I found it to be special that Tomi recognized that our custodial staff felt under appreciated and unrecognized, so he took it upon himself to rally up the student body to assure them that they were valued more than we could articulate. We need this type of leader more than anything. We need a President who not only cares but shows how much he cares through his actions not merely his words.

So despite his loud snoring, smelly boots and obnoxious FIFA habits, Tomi’s strong character and accomplished track record make him the President that Amherst needs. Vote Tomi!