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StuCo discusses Crunkfest, funding dry parties and transportation

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In their most recent meeting, Student council (StuCo) discussed Crunkfest, auditing the Social Affairs Committee (SAC) and selling new SEPTA tickets.

Crunkfest, the unofficial festival held every spring in the courtyard of Worth Hall, has generated concern from some students.

“If you live in Worth or you live in the Lodges, or even Willets, and you’re very uncomfortable with the idea of this happening — I think most people would see that as a legitimate concern,” said Aya Ibrahim ’15. “So it’s just something to look into.”

Originally, StuCo considered holding a poll on crunkfest as an initial step. In the end, however, StuCo decided to leave the issue up to Worth residents and the RAs.

Beyond Crunkfest, StuCo will also begin auditing the college’s Social Affairs Committee (SAC).

In an attempt to bring SAC’s spending further under the control of StuCo, its members are familiarizing themselves with the budget. The idea is for SAC, which funds parties and other social events for students, to distribute its funding in a way structured and programmed by StuCo.

“It’s part of a larger conversation about what kind of events are being hosted and what kind of events are being funded,” Ibrahim said. “If we find that there are certain types of events that always get cut — well, why is that? Can we in some way address that?”

Part of the function of analyzing trends in event funding is to allow for the funding more dry events, which StuCo says are in increasing demand. SAC, historically, has funded more wet events than dry ones. The audit of the SAC budget will partially serve to re-direct funding toward these dry events.

“A lot of people on campus want to see more dry programing,” Schlessinger said. “We want to look at the SAC members and figure out where their funding goes, predominately, so that we can figure out how we’re going to cut out some budget for more dry programming and dedicate funds to more of the projects we know students want to see more of.”

In a similar effort to bring further structure to student social events, StuCo is currently working on starting more stringent training processes for Party Hosts.

“We want them to have more intensive training, like Bystander Intervention training,” Ibrahim said. “[We want] more accountability over all, so they can be more of a resource and there is better clarity on what to do in whatever situation.”

At the StuCo meeting on Sunday night in Parrish West, Associate Dean of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Development Liliana Rodriguez suggested that T.I.PS. (Training for Intervention Procedures) certification be required of Party Hosts. T.I.PS. is a bartending training class sometimes required by employers that teaches the employee how much alcohol in how much time will intoxicate someone, how to check I.D.’s, and how to judge when to cut someone off.

Lastly, StuCo will be switching over from selling subsidized round-trip SEPTA tickets into Philadelphia to selling subsidized Independence Passes. Independence Passes allow for unlimited one-day travel in Philadelphia.

“A couple of students wanted a little more freedom once they got into Philadelphia,” Schlessinger said. “[The tickets we buy] will get you into any zone, but once you’re in the city you can’t take the subway or anything like that.”

But the switch has been delayed by StuCo’s apprehension of a fee from SEPTA. If the number of passes ordered is greater than the number of passes bought by students, then StuCo has to pay a fee for the remaining passes. That is, in order to buy the passes, StuCo has to first order a given number (currently they buy 80 tickets and will buy 80 passes once they switch) of passes — but, unlike the round trip tickets, there is a $6.00 fee for every pass that goes un-purchased, or half the cost of the pass.

In order to bypass this, StuCo is planning to register the college as a business and have the fee waived.

“Because we don’t know exactly how many we’re going to need in every given week, we need to get that fee waived. Which is easy because the college is a business,” Schlessinger said. “We just need to document that the college is a business, and once we do that we can switch over to the Independence Passes.”

Students should expect the passes to start being sold on either the first week after Thanksgiving break or the first week after the winter break.

Administrators take heat at party policy forum

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Following a controversial decision to take extra measures to bar those under 21 from obtaining alcohol inside the annual Halloween Party, Student Council (StuCo), in conjunction with administrators and Public Safety, held a forum to discuss the school’s party policies and present student feedback.

The meeting, which took place on Tuesday night, began with presentations from Mike Elias, the student activities coordinator, Lili Rodriguez, dean of diversity, inclusion and community development, Mike Hill, director of Public Safety, and Joanna Gallagher, deputy director of Public Safety. After the presentations, students were given the opportunity to share their opinions and ask administrators questions, followed by a discussion among students without administrators present.

Response was overwhelmingly negative. Students, including StuCo members, criticized the school for making the changes without consulting or informing students, accusing Public Safety and administrators of implicitly encouraging risky binge drinking.

Attendees in particular expressed displeasure for the increased presence of Public Safety officers inside the party and the barricade placed in front of the bar, saying that both led to an exclusionary and fearful atmosphere.

While Hill acknowledged that the barricade “could be nicer,” he and other administrators were steadfast about the changes, including increased Public Safety presence. In her introduction, Rodriguez asserted that the school’s prior system risked being out of line with Pennsylvania state law.

“We cannot knowingly break the law,” she said.

Hill emphasized the fact that the school was currently under scrutiny, including from the federal government, referring to it as the “elephant in the room.”

Technically, Elias said, the school’s party policy had, in fact, changed very little, and largely consisted of two changes to the party policy — one requiring students to say what kinds and quantities of alcohol they are providing and one requiring hosts to indicate how many party associates (PAs) are needed. Elias, however, said that for parties run by the social affairs committee (SAC), the host was essentially StuCo, meaning that in effect, “the institution hosts.” For these reasons, he said, the liability for serving alcohol to minors was on the college.

Administrators also challenged the assertion from students that stricter policies would result in riskier drinking behavior, saying that there was no evidence to suggest that that would be the case. Hill, for example, said that the difference in medical transports at this Halloween was not significant, with five this year as opposed to four at last year’s party.

But many students and attendees, including some from StuCo, disagreed. Many students reported seeing far more vomit than they had at past parties. The decision led StuCo to apologize to the student body in an e-mail sent on Monday afternoon. “The way things transpired on the ground as a result of our decision was due to unpredictable factors outside of our control and far from what we desired for the event,” the email said. “We want to thank SAC [the Student Activities Committee] for all of their very hard work in throwing a fantastic party, but we regret that our decision had unsafe consequences on students.”

Jacob Adenbaum ’14, the chairman of student budget committee (SBC), said he was deeply dissatisfied by the tone of the meeting. “ I was remarkably distressed by the lack of the dean’s commitment to student safety,” he said. “And I thought that the tone that they set was one that was much more concerned with other institutional interests as opposed to the safety interests of the students.”

Josh Hallquist ’14, a co-director of SAC and one of the students in charge of planning Halloween, said the party felt less controlled and safe then in previous years. “I felt very specific policy decisions, not made by SAC, in the hours before the party resulted in an unfortunate phenomenon of students leaving to binge drink, creating a generally chaotic environment later in the night,” he said.

Hallquist said that he watched students enter the party, see the barrier by the bar, leave, and return later appearing more intoxicated than before.  “I am not sure the administration realized the additive effect of an orange and white barricade would have on students leaving and returning,” he said.

In general, he described the policies as not ideal. “I think student rage is a good indicator that working within these policies will be challenging,” he said.


The Phoenix will have more extensive coverage of policy changes and student reactions, including additional comments from Mike Elias and other students, in the coming days. Check our website for updates. 

Citing lack of use, school cancels Philly shuttle

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The Philly shuttle, which took students from the College into Philadelphia for free, was canceled by Public Safety before the current semester began. No plans are in place to bring it back.

“Currently the plan is to not reinstate the use of the shuttle given the low ridership,” said Gabby Capone ’14, co-president of Student Council (StuCo). “It is unlikely that the shuttle will be running again.”

According to Capone, Public Safety decided to cancel it because, given the low ridership, “the cost per student using the shuttle [was] too high, to continue to run the shuttle.”Alternative routes for students, which include taxis, the SEPTA train and buses, are still available. But many students who have used the shuttle in the past as a means of cheap and convenient transportation to Philadelphia have expressed interest in having the service reinstated.

Stephanie Styles ’14, van coordinator for the College, has been circulating a student survey in order to gauge student responses to the issue.

“I’ve had about 200 responses so far, saying that they’ve used it and want it back,” Styles said. “Through conversations I’ve had a lot of students say that they depend on it and they use it frequently.”

With the termination of the shuttle, three alternative school-funded programs were brought up: increasing funding for the SEPTA ticket program, which lotteries off tokens to interested students, the use of ZipCars and the instatement of a cab voucher program.

“I asked students if they would want to consider increasing the SEPTA program and using ZipCars. But again, students are trying to go out for the weekend — do you want the students to be responsible for driving back?” Styles said. “There was also a discussion, from [Director of Public Safety] Michael Hill, about having a cab voucher program, so if you’re out late at night, the school pays for you to take a cab.”

The funding for the program, which initially was intended to go towards SEPTA tickets or an alternative transportation program for students, was used to fund a new Public Safety position instead.

Vice President for Facilities and Services Stu Hain said that the college is looking for ways to better fund student transportation into Philadelphia, and in particular use of the train. “We are having conversations now about how to provide more robust funding for students,” he said.

Currently, StuCo only has enough money to fund 40 free round-trip tickets per week or 80 partially subsidized round-trip tickets (each ticket would cost five dollars).

But Yuan Qu ’14, appointments chair for StuCo, would like to see the shuttle service return.

“First of all, it’s free. And that’s a wonderful resource. Swarthmore tries to pride itself on making resources available to students that might not be at a different school,” Qu said. According to her, the shuttle was a representation of the College’s commitment to supporting the well-being of its students.

According to Qu, the loss of the shuttle is a deterrent for students who want to go into Philadelphia. Because of the rise in price from $11 to $12.50 for a weekday round trip and $14 on the weekend on SEPTA’s Media/Elwyn rail line to Philadelphia (purchased in advance), paying has become more difficult. “That is very expensive, and immediately just adds a lot more of a financial burden for any student who wants to go into Philadelphia. Especially for freshmen,” Qu said. “I’m an RA this year and there is less encouragement for them to go into the city, especially if they are already financially strained.”

On the other hand, some students have noticed relatively low interference from the cancellation of the shuttle.

Stan Le ’14 felt ambivalent about the issue, noting that SEPTA was an easy alternative.

“I stopped using the shuttle after sophomore year in favor of SEPTA,” Le said. “In general, I feel the shuttle service the college offers are pretty unreliable. I don’t feel like the loss of the shuttle was particularly damaging to campus life.”

Several initiatives advance through StuCo

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Currently operating three members short of full council,  Student Council (StuCo) is working on initiatives that include reforming student government, discussing the college’s recent policy changes, and deliberating student access to Philadelphia. In addition, StuCo plans to hold emergency elections to fill vacant positions on the council.

In response to the announcement of a revised party policy and new interim sexual assault and harassment policies, StuCo plans to hold two separate forums to address student concerns and questions with regards to policy changes. The first forum, which is tentatively scheduled the week before fall break, will address the new party policy and may include appearances from both Michael Elias, the new student activities coordinator ,and Michael Hill, the director of Public Safety.

There are also plans to hold an information session before the second forum on the new interim sexual assault and harassment policy to ensure that students fully understand the manner in which the policy will be implemented. Following any informational session, an opportunity for students to express their views on the policy will be available.

StuCo President Gabriella Capone ’14 is excited for the work ahead. She is hoping to have a portion where StuCo will moderate a discussion where people can express their thoughts and concerns where they feel comfortable.

“We’re hoping that this will be educational — so, where appropriate, having faculty and staff speak about the current policies — but at the same time, providing a student-only space where students can really communicate their thoughts to us and then we can liaise between students and the administration,” she said.

One major item on the agenda for Student Council is the planned reintroduction of the Student Senate, which had its first trial run in the spring 2013 semester.

“We’re going to try and restructure all of student government essentially,” Capone said. “So this is in the works and still requires talking to a lot of people but ideally by next semester, student government would be running in a more cohesive structure, in that it will basically be more centralized.”

The motivation behind a restructured Student Senate is simple: greater student involvement and a more accurately representative student government.

In the past, students have raised concerns about the insular nature of student government at the college. “I feel like it’s the same ten people who do everything, I don’t even know how that happens,” said Amelia Kucic ’15.

A three-year member of Student Council, Capone agrees that this is a valid concern.

“The real hope with a restructured student government is that we are going to get new students,” she said. “It’s too large for the same people to keep doing it and more people flowing through the system means more people are well versed in what student government is at Swarthmore.”

In an effort to better capture the diversity of student opinion and provide effective representation, the council plans to change the format of the Student Senate.

“We’re still trying to hammer out a final structure for Student Senate because last semester was a pilot semester and some things worked and some things didn’t,” Student Outreach Coordinator Aya Ibrahim ’15 said.

Included in the plans for this final structure are class and dorm representatives. Instead of having a representative from each of the 31 standing committees and ten elected students, the body wants to bring about representation by dorm, granting a senator to every 150 or so students, and by class, with two senators elected from each class year. Ibrahim hopes that these changes will allow for a “truer and more broad representation of the student body.”

Part of the plan for the new Student Senate includes the introduction of freshmen senators for the upcoming fall semester. StuCo anticipates that concerns will be raised about the prudence of involving freshmen, who have not yet had the chance to fully understand how to navigate the college and its policies, in student government. Ibrahim, who served as a member of StuCo during her freshman year, understands why students may be opposed to freshmen representatives.

“You have a lot of frantic energy and you’re really excited but you don’t know anything about how things on campus work,” she said.

Because of these concerns, StuCo is considering allowing freshmen to hold slightly modified positions on the Senate. For example, limitations could be put in place on what freshmen senators would be allowed to vote on and what they could propose, at least for the fall semester. This would allow first years some time to learn about the workings of student government.

Ibrahim said, “For example, if [freshmen senators] put forth a solution that doesn’t work but they don’t know that, then it’s not necessarily a problem or a waste of time because it won’t be voted on.”

Members of StuCo believe that it is important to give freshmen a chance to get involved in student government and to let their opinions be heard.

“We want to know: what are freshmen thinking? So they’ll still have that voice and they’ll still be a part of conversation,” Ibrahim said.

Beyond the larger work of changing the foundations of student government at the college, Student Council will also explore ways to grant students greater access to Philadelphia and its surrounding areas. As announced in a campus-wide email at the start of the year, Public Safety has discontinued the Philly shuttle, which ran weekly in past years, in the immediate short term. This has spurred Student Council to seriously consider other transportation options, including an expansion of last semester’s highly popular Philadelphia Access Program.

The Philly Access Program provided 40 free round-trip SEPTA tickets every week to students, with recipients determined by a lottery. Capone explained that in reforming the program, the Council will consider “breadth versus cost.” For the coming academic year, StuCo will deliberate between offering tickets at a discounted price — and thereby providing greater availability — and continuing to offer a limited number of free tickets, to be given out by lottery.

Last semester saw the introduction of a referendum on opening the balcony on the third floor of McCabe Library. Ibrahim explained that the decision to open the balcony is ultimately in the hands of Facilities Management.

“It’s up to facilities and to the administration if they think it might be a matter of safety, then it’s really beyond us,” said Ibrahim.

Adriana Obiols ’16 echoes the thoughts of other students when she admitted that she did not know much about the work of StuCo.

“For me, they’re a very abstract group of people and I don’t really know who they are,” she said. “I don’t know how much power they have over things, like what kind of decision-making can they carry out.”

In addressing these concerns, StuCo members point to the need for students to make a concentrated effort to pay attention or become involved in campus affairs.

“There’s been this loss of faith in what StuCo is capable of doing — I think StuCo is capable of doing a lot of things, it’s just dependent on having a lot of people who want to push for those changes,” said Educational Policy Representative Marian Firke ’14. “Making Swarthmore the place we applied to is about applying ourselves right now and making it that place.”

In light of this, both Ibrahim and Capone encourage students to run in the upcoming emergency elections for the Fall 2013 semester. The elections will fill three vacant spots on the council: Campus Life Representative, Student Groups Advisor, and Financial Policy Representative.

“Being a part of Student Council enables you to have conversations and to participate in conversations that you might not be aware of otherwise,” Ibrahim said.

StuCo and Cycling Revive Bike Share Program

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The previously-defunct Bike Share program restarted this week, thanks to the efforts of Cycling Club and Student Council. The program allows students to check out a bicycle and a helmet from McCabe for up to 24 hours.

Erin Ching ’16, a member of Cycling Club, spearheaded Bike Share’s revitalization and did much of the work to ready the bikes for the program. Ching also worked with Cycling Club and Student Council member Tony Lee ’15, who helped secure funding for the program from Student Council.

His years as a mechanic at various bike shops in Seattle, Washington (home to a vibrant cycling culture) Ching worked with Jonah Schwartz ’15, also an experienced mechanic, to fix the bikes from the old program. Ching and Schwartz expect to spend about four hours each week voluntarily maintaining the bicycles for the program, which ended after its previous leaders graduated from Swarthmore.

Ching hopes the Bike Share program will strengthen and connect to the Cycling Club.

“In an ideal world,” Ching said, “people would use the Bike Share program a lot, and when they realize how convenient it is to have a bike, they would buy a bicycle at the Mary Lyon bike sale and then join Cycling Club.”

Ching’s vision is for Cycling Club to host frequent workshops where attendees can learn to fix flat tires and do other types of basic maintenance.

She also hopes that Cycling Club will continue to run its occasional Sunday morning group rides, during which students who enjoy cycling exercise and socialize with like-minded peers. The rides leave from Parrish circle, helping students of all levels of ability learn about cycling, and, if they wish, train for racing.

In addition to helping bring back the Bike Share program, members of the Cycling Club have competed in several Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference races this semester, led by Robin Carpenter ’13. Carpenter also races professionally on the Hincapie Sportswear Development Team, which participates in elite races in Europe and America and feeds riders to teams which compete in events such as the Tour de France.

Ultimately, Ching and Schwartz hope that bike share will provide the foundation for a cycling co-op. Schwartz, who has worked in multiple co-ops in his hometown of Los Angeles, California, also a cycling hotbed, said the co-op would be community owned and operated. Those who have experience with fixing bikes would volunteer their time to teach others how to maintain their own bicycles, sharing skills and knowledge with the broader community.

Student Senate Elections Today

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Today marks the first election for the newly-formed Swarthmore Student Senate, announced last Wednesday through a campus-wide email from the Student Council (StuCo) co-presidents Victor Brady ’13 and Gabriella Capone ’14.

The Student Senate will be composed of delegates from the 31 active campus committees and ten unaffiliated student representatives, to be selected through today’s election. StuCo will operate as the executive body to the Senate, with four StuCo members, co-presidents Brady and Capone and campus life representatives Tony Lee ’15 and Jason Heo ’15, acting as moderators for the Senate’s monthly meetings. Like StuCo meetings, the Senate’s meetings will remain open to all who want to sit in on them and participate in the discussions.

Students received the platforms of the 24 candidates for the Student Senate’s ten at-large positions yesterday morning via email. Voting will take place on Moodle all day from 12:00 this morning until 11:59 p.m.

Though the concept of a Student Senate had been brought up in the past by previous StuCo presidents, this semester is the first in which an official representative student assembly will be formed at Swarthmore. StuCo members began discussing the possibility of forming a Student Senate last semester. Capone had centered her December re-election campaign on the proposal.

Many students remain confused about the purpose of the Student Senate — a number question the necessity of another student governing body. A senior, who wished to remain anonymous, referred to the Senate as simply a potential “resume-padder for Swatties,” while another unnamed student asked if the student body really required “another layer of bureaucracy.”

In addressing these concerns, Brady and Capone envision the Student Senate as eventually overtaking Student Council as the main governing body for Swarthmore students. According to Capone, the current ten-student Student Council is “just not big enough” to take on as many projects as they would like. With its 41 members and 4 moderators, the relatively large scale of the Student Senate is designed to provide a diversity of opinions and campus experiences to discussions about the college’s policies, as well as bring increased manpower into student government operations.

“This isn’t really a case of ‘bigger is better,’ but ‘proportional is better’,” Capone said.

The size of the Student Senate will allow for the body to front necessary initiatives on campus in a way that StuCo cannot. Brady believes that the Senate will be able to “[use] the individual capital and the forty person or so size to undertake even larger projects that maybe aren’t quite as possible with the limited resources that the ten people on Student Council have.”

“The Student Senate will give us a much more representative body and a much larger body with a lot more capital than you have with Student Council,” added Brady.

Not everyone is cynical about the introduction of the Student Senate. Marisa Lopez ’15 believes that the new Senate can only be a good thing for the campus, as it will result in more students contributing their opinions on college policies. “Giving more students a voice within the organization can impact the campus well,” she said.

Candidate Louis Lainé ’16 agrees, “I think having a voice is always better than not having a voice, whether or not most people think it’s necessary. In the long term, [the Senate will] be a beneficial thing to have because representation is what we need.”

Though she is hopeful about the Senate and believes that giving the committees a voice is “a good thing”, Vienna Tran ’13 has a few reservations. “I think that the problem is that a large group of Swatties is always going to have a lot of different activities that they’re participating in so it’s going to be really tough to find a group of 40 students who are going to able to put in the full amount of time to make this an effective governing body.”

The consensus among Senate candidates and members of StuCo is that the full scope of the responsibilities of the Student Senate will only become clear after the body has navigated through its inaugural semester. “I believe that’s kind of the way with any organization — any time you start a new group on campus, any time you start a new committee or something, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Dominic Rizzo ’15, who is also running for a position on the Senate.

For the present, Capone and Brady hope that the Senate will explore more large-scale projects that StuCo has discussed. The two see having more than three-quarters of the Senate composed of various committee members as a largely positive aspect for this purpose. Brady emphasized the value of the committee members’ experience in working with the school administration. “We really think that that’s going to facilitate the interaction between administrators and the students, with students pushing their own projects and collaborating with administrators to make them a reality,” he said.

In addition to pursuing its own initiatives, the Senate will work with various members of the administration, including President Rebecca Chopp and Dean Liz Braun, and provide student feedback on different administrative projects. Immediate issues that the Senate will address include the development of a strategic plan for Public Safety and the establishment of the goals of ITS in both the near and distant future.

Brady explained that the Senate will act as a focus group for the administration, a function that will be greatly aided by the potential diversity of interests amongst members of the body.

“Administrators can [send] out information [to the Senate] about the strategic plan or events that they want to get student feedback on and opinion for before publishing out and sending out to the entire community,” he said.

Capone remains both enthusiastic and hopeful about the prospects of the Student Senate and dismissed concerns about student ambivalence towards the Senate, pointing to the number of candidates who submitted platforms as evidence of interest.

In speaking on the long-term goals of the new institution, Capone said, “If everything goes as planned, [the Senate] would be the new student government.”

Student Council Works to Create Comprehensive Guide

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Imagine an online page where you could find any information about student resources you needed, all offered by the college. That page is the goal of Tony Lee ’15 and Jason Heo ’15, the Student Council members in charge of developing a student resource guide that will consolidate information on everything from obtaining grants for summer projects to reserving a space for a party to contacting Workbox.“Because of our lack of knowledge, we are not able to utilize everything the College has to offer,” said Heo.“A lot of students have questions about certain things,” said Lee.  According to a Student Council survey sent out last week, many students feel like they are either not aware of or do not know how to use many of the resources the college provides. Although a range of issues were mentioned, the most perplexing was finding funding for various activities like student group events, parties, and speakers.“A lot of people don’t realize what the Lang Center has to offer,” said Heo, referencing one of the project’s goals to facilitate student attempts to implement social change. “Information on this isn’t centralized,” said Lee. “We want to make it easier for students to do what they want to do.”

The “Student Resource Guide” stemmed from the need to find an alternative method of dispensing information, as the current word-of-mouth system is not very effective. Student Council has been discussing updating the orientation handbook since last semester. It was not until the recent survey, however, that they realized that unawareness and disuse of College resources was not limited to first-year students and that an all-encompassing guide should be available to the entire student population.

Currently, Lee and Heo say the plan is to establish the guide as an extension of the College website, as either a PDF or Wiki-page hosted by the Swarthmore College Computer Society, with limited hard copies. “We want an entirely student-compiled source,” said Lee, a desire that makes the wiki more amenable. Nevertheless, a survey done by Student Council of other colleges and universities found that Wiki-pages were not a very common medium for student resource guides.

Independent of format, the goal is for the guide to be visible and utilized. “A lot of people restrict themselves to the Dash,” said Heo.

Akshaj Kuchibhotla ‘16 said he has had issues with the college website in its current format. “It could be improved, it’s not very well structured,” he said, “when I first looked at the website, it was very daunting.” Unsurprisingly, Kuchibhotla thinks a new, centralized page would be extremely useful.

According to Lee, there has been overwhelming support for the guide. “The biggest problem we face is how to make it sustainable,” he said, citing the constant change within the student population and the need for future generations to continue updating information.

Although still a work in progress, Lee and Heo have said that their goal is to implement the guide by the beginning of next year. “It would be great to get it up by next year’s orientation,” said Heo, “just to have it present, not necessarily to give it out.”

A link to a suggestion box for Student Council can be found under their heading on the Dash.

StuCo Makes Strides To Tackle Initiatives

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Amidst all the national political buzz of late, the 10 dedicated Swatties of the College’s Student Council have been working hard to deliver on past promises as well and develop new initiatives here at Swarthmore.Co-Presidents Gabby Capone ’14 and Victor Brady ’13 each have high hopes for StuCo this year.

For Brady, the key is accessibility.

“My biggest goal when running for Co-President, if it were to be summed up in one word, was accessibility — in the sense of both knowing about and taking advantage of the social and academic opportunities,” he said.

Of the several main proposals on the table, Brady is very excited about a major SEPTA ticket program, much like those in place at Haverford and Bryn Mawr, which would enable students to take advantage of all the opportunities Philadelphia has to offer, free of charge.

Meanwhile, Capone hopes to use her experience garnered from serving as last year’s Appointments Chair in order to help streamline the Council and improve efficiency —“to focus less on planning and more on doing.”

“My original goal for myself was to keep StuCo relevant, flexible and ready to take on whatever came its way,” says Capone, “but this has evolved into a more specific goal of … ensuring that the goals of other members are accomplished.”

Some of the goals StuCo is focusing on include the restructuring of the pilot bike share program, increased evening food options, centralizing a campus events schedule, and revisiting semi-regular campus-wide collections, to name a few.

Newcomer to the Council Tony Lee ’15, one of two Campus Life Representatives, has been involved in the reform of the bike share pilot program. Alongside fellow Campus Life Rep Ali Roseberry-Polier ’14, Lee has worked closely with McCabe lending coordinator, Alison Mastpasqua, to revisit and re-design the program, which is riddled with kinks. Through examining feedback logs, revising the lending contract and employing a student bike mechanic, Lee and company are on pace to have the program up and running by the end of the semester.
Commitment as displayed by Lee and Roseberry-Polier is what both Capone and Brady see as crucial for StuCo’s ability to effect change.

“Historically, there has been a culture of talk and inaction within Student Council which I think can be attributed to trying to accomplish too much in our group Sunday meetings over the past few years,” says Brady. “Though the Sunday meetings are critical for discussing the initiatives that we work on and mapping our agenda, much more substantive work is accomplished by individual members or in small groups apart from this full council meeting. We’ve been working more on individual initiatives than ever before, and coming together with concrete proposals rather than just for abstract brainstorming sessions this semester.”

Capone sees a few challenges facing Student Council that need to be addressed.
“Internally, to begin with, [StuCo] is a relatively small group (10 people out of a campus of 1,500) and the students on Student Council are typically already very involved individuals — so you’ve got 10 spread-too-thin-students with very specific job descriptions who have to go the extra mile if they want to fit in everything they listed on their platform. Student Council would benefit from expansion and restructuring.”

Co-President Brady also sees decentralization as a problem for the group.

“Swarthmore is extremely decentralized in terms of funding sources and committees which contributes to an awful lot of frustration among the student body in terms of initiating change, or creating projects and new initiatives. I think there’s a major need for a student leadership forum — for club presidents or representatives and committee representatives to come together and report on the ‘happenings’ within each smaller group and collaborate on larger events.”

As an effort to make Student Council more accessible to all students wishing to join, the Council voted last year to pilot small stipends for elected officials serving in the 2012-2013 school year. This would have put Student Council positions on the same echelon as other committee coordinators around campus while also providing students in the work-study program a chance to contribute more easily.

The Student Budget Committee cut the program from StuCo’s budget.

For more information, students are welcome to attend meetings at 7 p.m. Sunday in Parrish Parlors, visit StuCo’s blog, http://swarthmorestuco.tumblr.com, which includes minutes from each meeting, or follow them on Twitter @swarthmorestuco.

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