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.
At yesterday’s meeting, Student Council considered reports from Enlace Co-Presidents Grace Kaissal ’10 and Isabel Rivera ’10, discussed their upcoming event, discussed changing the composition of planning committees, reviewed their one-on-one meeting with IC leaders, and recounted meetings with ITS and Dean of Students James Larimore.
At the next meeting, Student Council will begin the process to amend their Constitution in order to allow themselves to do more than just fully fund or not fund appeals from SBC, and instead approve smaller amounts of money.
The Enlace presidents were asked to talk about recent events their organization put together and to elaborate on any issues they were facing, particularly in light of the 2020 process.
They offered a wide array of suggestions, most notably asking for an Ethnic Studies department, suggesting that Writing Associates should be trained to work with less experienced writers, diversity training for professors, and specialized student financial aid counselors, who would act as champions for their peers during financial aid meetings.
As the Council started to consider the planning process, Keith Benjamin ’08 strongly argued for adding more students to the planning committees. “Someone from Swarthmore 1978 can talk about Swarthmore in 1978, but they can’t talk about Swarthmore in 2008,” he argued.
Student Council President Peter Gardner ’08 seemed struck by the idea. “We’ll look into it,” he said. Financial Policy Representative Sarah Roberts ’08 was another supporter of the idea, recalling how College President Al Bloom had, for previous committees, been very accommodating of such changes.
In response to some concerns by Benjamin that the changes suggested at Wednesday’s meeting might not make it to the committees, Gardner stressed that the Vice President and President will both be represented on the Steering Committee which heads the whole process. “This is up to the student body,” he said. “The next president will be the champion for students there.”
Many members of Student Council were sent out last meeting to start hosting one-on-one meetings with leaders from the Intercultural Center and other similar organizations.
The concerns expressed by these groups mirrored many of the issues introduced by Enlace. Secretary Liana Katz ’10 reported that I20 was concerned that there were not classes aimed at large chunks of the world. As an example, Katz explained “Asian Studies only covers East Asia, not South Asia.”
Roberts held a meeting with members of the Muslim Students Association. The group’s leaders raised several concrete issues: Many Arabic classes meet during Friday prayers, Sharples offers too many pork-based dishes, and Sharples’ early closing hours can be very difficult for students during Ramadan, when Muslims fast until sunset.
Other members of the Council offered briefer reports with fewer concrete suggestions for the Council to pursue.
Information Technology Services
A new portal is being released later this week, and the Council was very impressed. Gardner particularly mentioned a new events listing, and a more prominent search bar. Smaller changes include a Swarthmore-picture-of-the-day section.
There was also some discussion of the Reserved Students Digest and the Calendar. In response to recent criticism, ITS switched the default view on the College calendar to a list, which makes skimming events easier. The Council brainstormed changes to Reserved Students Digest, and particularly how to respond to the administrative assistants, professors, and deans who post event listings directly to the list.
“The question is if we want to take on the entire administrative staff and all of the faculty members,” said Gardner.
Ultimately, the Council decided to get in touch with the people who post directly to the list and explain the access guidelines more clearly.
Dean of Students
Council members also met with Larimore earlier this past week. Their conversation focused on how to make Student Council more prominent at orientation events. The entire Council agreed that they should run social events.
“We need to make clear that Student Council is not like high school Student Council,” said Vice-President Sven Udekwu ’09. “We need to make clear we have a half-million dollar budget,” added Student Groups Advisor Paul Apollo ’09.