Hi, my name is Jacob and I’m running to be your StuCo Financial Policy Rep.
The way that the college budgets for student life and other activities is both one of the most complicated and one of the most important thing that happens on this campus. I hope to use my experience as treasurer for several groups and a member of the SBC in order to better represent the student body in this process.
The most important job of any StuCo member is to listen to what the student body is saying, and I will do just that. I will represent your interests as faithfully as possible to the administration, and I will make myself available (through in-person meetings, email, and possibly weekly office hours) to listen to anyone’s concerns or help people navigate the funding structures of the college. In particular, I will work with students who are planning large-scale events in order to help them avoid some of the funding pitfalls that have plagued other groups in the past.
But these general principles aside, there are three major policy issues that I would like to address:
1. The student Activities Fee:
Over the past few years, almost every student group has felt the impact of budget cuts. These cuts were entirely unnecessary and were primarily the result of a misguided effort to cut the student activities fee (the part of tuition which funds almost every group on campus). I spoke out against it when it was happening because the activities fee is one of the most important ways that we keep Swarthmore an open environment for students of all means. By having an activities fee that is high enough to make most activities on campus free and open to all students, we can ensure that Swarthmore stays accessible for everyone. Students on financial aid should not be asked to pay exorbitant fees to join a club sports team. Cultural groups should not have to dramatically scale back their major events because of budget cuts. The movie committee should have enough money to show fun and popular movies so that students don’t have to go off campus to see them. There is no reason these budget cuts should happen, and I promise to make it my number one priority to have the student activities fee raised (we only need about $20-30 more) and the draconian budget cuts of the last few years reversed.
2. The Organizational Structure of the Student Budget Committee:
The SBC is the group that has possibly the most immediate impact on student life at Swarthmore. By making decisions about what to fund and the level at which to fund it, the committee has the ability to dramatically shape what kind of events and activities happen at Swarthmore. But astoundingly this body is not democratically accountable to the student body. Although StuCo appoints its members, there are no elections to keep the SBC’s decisions accountable. As a result, there is remarkably little public debate about the very important policy questions it deliberates. As Financial Policy Rep, I will begin exploring the idea of making at least a portion of the SBC elected by the student body at large. This is a complicated and delicate issue, but it is one that we must address if the SBC is to maintain its legitimacy in the long run.
3. Our Relationship With the Deans:
As much as we wish it were not so, the deans have not always been on the level with the student body regarding issues of funding large joint ventures. Time and time again, they have foisted large expenses like the Yule Ball, the screening of The Graduate, and their fair share of parties like Genderfuck onto the student body. However, part of the reason that they have been doing this is because they have been experiencing tough budget cuts of their own. As Financial Policy Rep, I will try to serve as an intermediary between the Deans and the student body on issues of our jointly funded projects. We will all be better off if the SBC and the deans stop fighting over who pays for what part of student life and just work to get things done.
But even more important than any of these policy ideas is the simple fact that I will always be open to new ideas. As John Maynard Keynes said, “When my information changes, I alter my conclusions.” I will not be afraid to innovate and work to find new and creative solutions to the many challenges facing the student body. Together, we can make Swarthmore a place that is open and accessible for everyone.