Student Council 411: Constitutional Amendments and College Republicans

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.

College Republicans | Constitutional Amendment | Board of Managers Update

The College Republicans

A large contingent of eight College Republicans attended Student Council’s meeting yesterday, including C.R. President Justin Shaffer ’08 and Treasurer David Pupkin ’09.

They raised a collection of issues they hoped the Council could address, focusing on board space in the main Parrish hallways and their concerns related to the flyer-debate that raged across campus last week.

Later this semester, the group also plans to run faculty workshops on political correctness and diversity of ideas. Shaffer said that the group “wants to have an open dialogue, not necessarily on one specific issue, but political identity in general on campus.” The College Republicans aspire to host a Conservative Awareness Day, mentioning chalkings, shirts, and more.

The Council was interested to hear the plans, and President Peter Gardner ’08 was particularly taken with the faculty discussion. Still, at the close of the Council meeting several members expressed concerns that the Council not be seen as endorsing any political agenda, which could limit Council support for the Republicans or Democrats.

SBC Amendment
Listen Here
Listen to the debate yourself.

After significant discussion and hearing testimony from Student Budget Committee Manager Giannina Esquivel ’08, Student Council decided to table their amendment and start working with SBC, SAC, and other groups to facilitate further flexibility within SBC.

Esquivel presented three main points of opposition to the plan. (You can see last week’s discussion of the amendment here.) First, she argued that the amendment would give final say to Student Council on every financial decision, which would effectually trivialize SBC. Second, SBC has information that Student Council does not, and giving the Council too much flexibility could lead to legal issues. Third, she argued that the plan gives students an incentive to appeal every decision SBC makes, which could overload SBC and Student Council.

Vice President Sven Udekwu ’08 also reminded the Council that “it is easier for Student Council’s biasses to come into play than SBC’s,” because SBC is an organization based on precedent.

Campus Life Representative Andrea Cornejo ’09 wondered if there was any public listing of the precedents which form the bed rock of SBC’s decisions. Esquivel explained that the precedents are passed down within the committee. This comment appeared to disturb several members of the Council. Financial Policy Representative Sarah Roberts ’09 suggested that the entire process should be demystified, particularly encouraging SBC to run some kind of campus-wide informational event co-run by the Council.

The debate clearly and rapidly went in SBC’s favor. Even Campus Life Representative Alyssa Work ’08, the original author of the amendment, came out against the amendment.

“I’m not in love with this amendment. I think the purpose is that we have this discussion and talk with SBC about how you are making this appeals decision. … I really appreciates that you guys are working on making it explicit to students on what is expected. I just think there could be some flexibility on percentages in funding decisions. There is always an element of human error. I would like if there was something we could talk about that would involve a small change in the bylaws.”

Board of Managers Meeting Update
The Gazette will be carrying more coverage of this event in later issues.

The Council discussed exactly how much information is available to the general student body, and the general consensus was that they simply weren’t sure. The school’s budget was set over the weekend, but most of that information is not available to students or needs to be cleared first.

The most public section of the proceedings came from the planning meetings. The Council has a large report which it will be distributing to students shortly. Work described the report as “like the 9/11 Commission Report, big, interesting, but no one really wants to read it.”

The previously discussed idea of placing more students on the committees was also rejected. According to Gardner, the consensus of the committee chairs was that students numerically far out-weighed the rest of the constituencies in the committees, and more involvement was unwarranted, particularly since the committees would officially end at the end of the semester.

Finally, an anonymous donor decided to give Swarthmore students 10-to-1 matching funds for any money raised for the move to no-loans. The exact details of the proposal are not clear–Gardner could not specify the maximum amount of money the donor would be willing to donate, nor could he clarify if donations by parents would also be matched.

Still, he stressed that this decision set Swarthmore apart from other schools. “We are the only school … that is including the student body as a whole,” he said.


  1. First, I’m not Lauren but as a freshman I’m feeling the red tide of Swat and am reluctant to go public.
    It seems like these Swat conservatives are really trying to make a name for themselves, they’re certainly being given a lot of press but that may be self-generated. Is this just so they can differientiate themselves and be “shocking,” “conservatives at Swat, say it isn’t so.” If so, I think they’ll take their 15 minutes and just fade back into the student body background, because I have found this to be a much more conservative, uninvolved campus than I was led to believe. Somehow, during my college search process, I got the impression that this was (past tense used deliberately) a truly liberal campus. My biggest disappointment with Swat is that I have found it is not nearly as liberal or activist-oriented as the press the school gives itself. The school is appallingly behind other schools in its sustainability movement, and what’s the point of going on. I still think its a good school and I feel I’m getting the academic education promised but I thought there was more to Swat than there seems to be today. I think Admissions needs to be more honest in portraying the school, I’m afraid its truly liberal days and socially conscious days are things of the past.

  2. That’s an interesting perspective, but what I’ve found is that as far as the student body is concerned, if you think there’s no activism going on you haven’t looked hard enough. The school as a whole may be behind on sustainibility, but that’s not really a reflection on Earthlust’s efforts, which you may not be fully aware of if you’re a freshman. If there’s some project you think should be going on, the Lang Center is more than willing to fund it, if you’re willing to put in the effort. The Democrats are storming the dorms this week to increase voter registration, and Swat for Obama has been rather active lately. The Women’s Resource Center regularly holds discussions on racial issues, and Class Awareness Month tried to raise awareness about issues of class. Worried about international human rights? try amnesty international, swat stand, war news radio or the darfur radio project. among others, I’m sure. Interested in education or kids? club despertar is there, or topsoccer, or the village education project. etc, etc, etc. want to volunteer? there are tons of opportunities to do so right in chester, just go the lang center and ask. a lot of the activism on campus is such that you need to go out and find it, because while the work they do is good, they’re often focusing enough of their efforts on the work itself that except for select days or weeks or months, they aren’t trying to advertise it all the time. and that especially goes for lang center opportunities.

    I do agree about the republicans and their 15 minutes of fame, though.

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