Student council platforms

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Student Council elections will begin on Friday for the following one-year positions: Co-President, Student Groups Advisor, Financial Policy Representative, Educational Policy Representative, and Campus Life Representative. Online voting will be held Friday through Sunday, and voting in Sharples will take place on Monday, April 24 and Tuesday, April 25. The following are the platforms submitted to the Gazette by candidates:

CO-PRESIDENT: Eric Zwick ’07, Joella Fink ’07, Garth Sheldon-Coulson ’07

ERIC ZWICK ’07
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Every Student Council election has its share of candidates with lofty visions for reform and improvement. Yet these visions rarely come to fruition. Student Council needs a fresh face: someone who offers pragmatic solutions to Council’s real problems with the singular aim of improving student life.

With this aim in mind, I worked closely with Council to develop the new Class Recommendation Book, which has received more traffic in two weeks than its predecessor received in its lifetime. This project’s overwhelming success indicates my ability to implement concrete solutions to improve student life.

Additionally, an overhaul of the reserved-students system would substantially improve student life. Imagine the convenience of one website that provides easy access to comprehensive information about lectures, parties and events. My technical know-how and experience with the Rec Book make me an ideal candidate to carry out this project.

But don’t take me for a one-trick pony. As an RA, I have already acted on my passion for addressing real student needs. I have also worked closely with SAC and SBC to organize social events, including the Super Bowl wing-feast.

If elected, I promise to continue my strong record of improving student life. If you want real progress, vote Zwick.

JOELLA FINK ’07
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As I learned from my year as Campus Relations Representative, marching in to student council with ideas and enthusiasm won’t get you very far. Although individuals often successfully pursue projects, student council as a whole can rarely act effectively to support the efforts of student groups, represent student concerns to the administration, or effectively deal with changes on campus as they arise. And while I know that most people don’t care about student council, I also think that part of why they don’t care is because of how much they don’t know. If people knew how much potential student council has to improve this campus, maybe they would care-or maybe if they knew the council’s activities and goals, or even just who their representatives are. But hardly anyone knows these things, or where council members stand on controversial issues, or what it is that they do-so it’s unsurprising that council is rarely effective in advocating for the student body.

I want to begin my term as co-president by reforming council itself. The year I spent on council made it clear to me that certain representatives on council have very little to do, while others are always doing too much. I want council to seriously evaluate the merit of each of the eleven positions sitting around the table; and I’m confident that this conversation will lead to substantial changes. With that accomplished, I will work to make the different functions of representatives on council relevant again, and therefore accountable. Each member of council will declare projects in the beginning that they can pursue throughout their term, and which I will ensure are publicized and updated; furthermore, as issues arise on campus, I’ll work to disseminate information about different positions on the subject, and where each member stands. I’m determined to make the activities and stances of student council open and accountable to the student body.

But to do that, I’m not going to force anyone to read the minutes, and I won’t constantly spam the campus. I think the best way to get this information available is to revamp student council’s website. To effectively publicize the projects and opinions of council, I want a website that is updated, linked to the portal, and-most importantly-no longer dependent on the varying skills of elected representatives. Just like the book buy-back site and class recommendation book demanded that a student be hired, a competent, paid webmaster should be responsible for the council site itself-otherwise, there’s simply no way to ensure that the efforts of individuals in improving the website can be maintained. This will also ensure that the changes I’m suggesting for making members accountable will remain possible even after my term ends.

Okay. So, I’m a little embarrassed to have to talk to you so much about student council itself, instead of just promising you some of the things you want. But I think that these are the kind of changes that need to be made to make student council legitimate-and that it is only after these reforms occur that more concrete and widespread improvements to the campus become possible. Universal card access for dorms has appeared somewhere in the platforms of every election for as long as I’ve been at Swarthmore-but I believe that it requires a effective council to make it possible. I have spent (too much) time thinking about ways to make a better council possible, both in my time on council and as a student; and I believe that it’s possible, and important. Based on my experience, I can guarantee that student council will absolutely be better if I become co-president-and that, more importantly, I’m capable of improving council in ways which will outlast my actual term.

Thanks. Forgive the long-windedness, and vote for me.

GARTH SHELDON-COULSON ’07
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Student Council is uniquely positioned to enrich student life and propel the college toward new goals. During my three years at Swarthmore I have served in many parts of student government, from the Student Budget Office to the Admissions Committee and Equal Opportunity Advisory Committee—over 100 hours of work in all. I have built strong relationships with many college administrators, deans, current members of Council, and Student Budget Committee managers (including next year’s manager, Veronika). I know what mistakes not to make. If elected, I will use my knowledge of the politics and purse-strings of the system to give you a much more focused and effective Student Council.

Academics — Leave-replacement professors are often abysmal. Interdisciplinary programs, from public policy to ethnic/cultural studies to cognitive science, are in need of serious review, innovation, and resources. The administration is unresponsive to over-enrollment. I adore Swarthmore and care deeply about its direction as a college, and I will work to develop a clear, unremitting plan to force these issues and similar ones.

Student life — I will push for a new, more reliable email system, for key cards on the outside of dorms, and for a wholesale evaluation of which Sharples bars students actually enjoy. I will make sure that recordings are made of visiting speakers and archived online for time-crunched students to listen to after the event. Career services’ resources are fine, but new Swatties (especially in the social sciences) can fail to realize the importance of summer jobs and activities. I will call upon successful alums to help develop an independent “insider’s guide” to prominent NGOs, think tanks, government agencies, fellowships, and so on, and how to get internships there.

Alcohol — Anecdotes from EMTs and others suggest that the number of alcohol-related injuries, and their severity, has gone up since the college clamped down on alcohol. If elected, I would demand that this be investigated. If it is true, I would spearhead a fund, not operated by the college itself, to finance alcohol at parties, so that students would be less likely to get smashed all at once before going out.

Council reform — Student Council’s problem is that it serves two functions but does not have time for both. On the one hand it is a democratic body, created to appraise and deliberate the interests of students. On the other hand it is an executive body, created to enact substantial projects for the student body. Too much deliberation leaves too little time for action, as we have seen. The solution is the creation of purely representative officers (class representatives, for instance) who meet separately. This would allow the executive officers more time and energy for action.

Freshman year, I wrote an exposé in the Phoenix about the unreliability and sloth of the computer network, and in response ITS increased our bandwidth and fixed the problems. I was similarly outspoken about Kick Coke (good if advocated honestly), the living wage (risky for the workers and bad for the college), alcohol (dangerous to curtail), and other issues. During my time at Swarthmore I have always stood firmly behind my opinions and pressed for change. I would be honored to do the same for the student body.

STUDENT GROUPS ADVISOR: Eric Cooperman ’07, Karen Lorang ’07, Twan Claiborne ’07

ERIC COOPERMAN ’07
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The reason I am running for Student Groups Advisor is because after three terms on SBC, I know that I am capable of doing this job well, and after three years at Swarthmore, I would like to use my experience to make life better on our campus. The reason that I want to join Council rather than simply return to SBC is because I believe that changes need to be made to the way student groups are funded and chartered, and that these changes need to be larger than the Budget Committee itself. As Student Groups Advisor, I would hold a series of open discussions to learn more about your experiences and frustrations with the chartering and funding processes. I would also advocate for additional seed funding so that it’s easier for new groups to pick up momentum before seeking a formal charter. My goal would be to increase extracurricular opportunities for students while reducing the amount of bureaucracy required to turn good ideas into new organizations and campus events. Although I’m abroad this semester, please email me with any questions or concerns you have. Just send an email to ecooper1 and I’ll get back to you.

KAREN LORANG ’07
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My reasons for running for Student Groups Advisor are straightforward: I believe that an understanding of the group chartering process is crucial to continuing the wonderful work that Alex has done this past year to improve it. During my term as Campus Life Representative I served on the Charter Committee and therefore have a good working knowledge of the chartering process. I feel both well prepared and eager to assist student groups as they seek to establish themselves on campus, navigate the SBC budgeting process, or simply re-charter their long running organization.

Furthermore, I have enjoyed my time on Student Council this past year working on a range of issues (such as the alcohol policy and gender neutral housing) and wish to continue serving as a voice for students. I would also be pleased to participate as student council continues its efforts to reassess its work on campus. If you have further questions about my past work on council, or goals for the future, I urge you to contact me directly at klorang1. Thank you for your time and consideration.

TWAN CLAIBORNE ’07
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Hello Swarthmore College campus! My name is Twan Claiborne, class of 2007, and I am running for Student Groups advisor. Swarthmore College provides many outlets for students to express themselves- through art, photo, sports, music, and my personal favorite dance. Though it may not appear that way at first, student groups are a way of expressing yourself. They allow you to connect to students across campus that share the same interests as you and wish to explore them in the same fashion. These groups serve a variety of purposes, from playing chess from hours on end, to emotional and communal support. The Student Groups Advisor, to me, should help facilitate the creation of these groups, and maintain a positive relationship between that respective group and the general campus. The SGA should also maintain a close relationship with the Student Budget Committee, ensuring that all groups on campus receive the funding they need in order to be successful. As the Student Groups advisor, I will work to establish and carry forth these goals so that student groups on campus will continue to be a powerful presence on campus. Thank you for your time, and remember to vote!

FINANCIAL POLICY REPRESENTATIVE: Omer Corluhan ’08, Nicole Escobar ’09, Ilya Faibushevich ’07

OMER CORLUHAN ’08
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I am a candidate for Financial Policy Representative position. I have been working for the student body on the Committee on Investor Responsibility (CIR) for over a year. Swarthmore’s Investment Committee has adopted my resolutions on political donations and contributions this year as well. I am well aware of the responsibilities of representing the student body and familiar with the College’s finances, stocks, investments and endowment. My challenging CIR experience, built on my previous roles as the financial manager of my high school newspaper and Interact (youth Rotary) Club, gives me valuable experience for this position. I am well equipped and eager to be your voice at the College Budget Committee (CBC) meetings and in the Student Council.

I am enthusiastic about being a candidate for the position of Financial Policy representative. Vote for Omer Corluhan!

NICOLE ESCOBAR ’09
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Hello there! My name is Nicole Escobar and I would like to be your next Financial Policy Representative. I’ll keep it short and sweet, I promise.

The Financial Policy Representative meets regularly with the College Budget Committee to present Student Council’s financial propositions. I believe that my current involvement as a member of both the Committee on Investor Responsibility and the Investment Club’s Executive Committee has helped me gain an invaluable working knowledge of Swarthmore’s endowment management, financial responsibilities and policies. I feel that my involvement in these activities has also: 1) helped me build strong working relationships with Staff and Administration 2) equipped me with the essential skills needed to effectively voice your requests, opinions and concerns to the College Budget Committee 3) given me extensive experience with working with committees to move students’ priorities onto the agenda and make them become a reality.

Two propositions I have in mind include: 1) Increased transparency. I am very interested in bringing back a version of the fireside chat held with President Bloom, the Board of Managers, and students a couple years back during Swat’s living wage campaign. I feel that this experience will help students better understand the Board’s decision-making process behind important issues concerning financial matters, and would make sure that the administration involves students in important policy decisions. 2) Increased funding for outdoor structures, such as a gazebo, a shaded pavilion with benches and barbeque grills, picnic tables, or volleyball nets to provide students with comfortable outdoor areas to lounge and to promote more outdoor activities and laid-back gatherings.

These are just a few of my ideas. I would love to hear any additional comments, suggestions, or concerns you may have.

If elected as your next Financial Policy Representative, I will bring my hard work, dedication, and passion to the position in order to fulfill my duties to you as best as I possibly can.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

ILYA FAIBUSHEVICH ’07
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My name is Ilya Faibushevich, and I would like to tackle the following issues if I am elected as your Financial Policy Representative. Despite the vast improvements the Large Scale Events Committee has made this year, many students still voiced their dissatisfaction with issues ranging from venue choice to ticketing inefficiency. As an active member of the LSE, I will work closely with that committee and the Vice President’s Office to insure this year’s budget increase will remain permanent to allow us to bring bigger acts more frequently and have the possibility of outdoor shows.

As your Representative, I would work to address the problems of eating at Tarble. Because of time conflicts, many students have no option but to eat at Essie Mae’s, where its pricing scheme does not allow students to get a full meal (one meal is not enough to get a cheesesteak and drink) and ensures that students who are paying Board are wasting a significant portion of that money.

Most importantly, I would listen to your concerns and suggestions about these and other issues to help Student Council make informed decisions. As an econ major with experience with Swarthmore’s budget, I would make an excellent Financial Policy Representative. I am also Russian, so the KGB connections mean things will get done – fast. Vote for me, Ilya Faibushevich.

EDUCATIONAL POLICY REPRESENTATIVE: Eleanor Joseph ’07

ELEANOR JOSEPH ’07
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As this past year’s Educational Policy Representative, I instituted a number of academic changes that greatly benefit students. The recent launching of a self-sustaining online course recommendation book, which will be continually updated and enhanced, my stance on the Council on Educational Policy to continue Swarthmore’s Japanese language program, and my proposal to the Curriculum Committee to extend the deadline by which students must declare a course as credit/no credit are all concrete examples of my initiatives and accomplishments.

If reelected, I will continue diligently to serve the student body. I will remain an advocate of an extension of the credit/no credit deadline, and I will pioneer a new project: the compilation of all course syllabi in a password protected Blackboard folder, so that students can easily access the syllabi when investigating potential classes for upcoming semesters. This will save students the hassle of emailing requests for syllabi and will save time for professors, as they will no longer need to respond to many separate solicitations. It will also relieve the stress that many students experience during shopping period, as students will likely determine earlier the courses in which they wish to enroll.

I also have a strong personal and academic commitment to the continuation of the Arabic language program and the further evolution of an interdisciplinary Middle Eastern Studies program. I will advocate the hiring of professors to teach classes pertaining to the region in various different departments. I believe strongly that Swarthmore should offer a minor (as it does for Latin American studies, black Studies, Asian Studies, etc.) for the area that is arguably the most influential in our world today.

I will continue on with the idea that Esha Senchauduri ’05 had and work to create a central academic help center, which combines all of Swarthmore’s academic resources: WAs, SAMs, TAs, and natural science clinicians. I envision having one member of each group on call each weeknight- perhaps from 7-11pm, either in Parrish parlors, or in our new student lounge. In this way, any student experiencing an academic difficulty or emergency knows that there is somewhere to go, beyond knocking on the door of the SAM, who might not be around.

Lastly, I support examining closely Student Council’s role on campus, and plan to make its workings more transparent and its actions more visible to the student body. This will occur multilaterally, but should begin with the student-suggested medium of a monthly SC bulletin email.

Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to read this platform. If you choose to vote for me, I thank you in advance for your vote for reelection.

CAMPUS LIFE REPRESENTATIVE: Brian Chen ’07, Randall Johnston ’09

BRIAN CHEN ’07
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I will readily admit that Student Council didn’t have a place even in the recesses of my mind during my first two years at Swarthmore. Student Council entered my life about once a semester when I would be coerced into voting at the top of Sharples. It isn’t that I didn’t have opinions about campus life or other student concerns; I was too engrossed in the demands of academic and social life to be interested in the school machinery or the institutional caricatures of “Myrt,” “Bob,” and “Martin.” Since becoming a Resident Assistant, though, I have had the privilege of working closely with several of these caricatures and have discovered an administration that is not only willing but eager to listen and engage student concerns. My experience as an RA has also given me exposure to thoughtful students who might voice their concerns to the RA down the hall but lack the inclination to approach the forbidding adults occupying Parrish 108 and such. With a couple years’ perspective under my belt, I recognize the need for student-administration intermediaries and want to increase my participation in the student-administration dialogue.

RANDALL JOHNSTON ’09
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With all the recent controversy, it is important that the Campus Life Representative be an approachable and receptive advocate of student life who works well with administrations. As Campus Life Representative, I would make myself available and open to thoughts and suggestions to better voice student concerns to the Deans’ Advisory Council. Previously, I have had successful experience working with several different new administrations to create policies favorable to both students and faculty; I am prepared to do so again with our next Dean.

This year I am aware of the many concerns and proposals surrounding campus life, but most importantly, I am eager and willing to become a sounding board to better support or challenge policies under consideration. I hope you will find me the approachable, receptive, and competent Campus Life Representative I would invariably strive to be.

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