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.
What should Swarthmore look like in ten years? Which programs should be expanded? What new programs should be introduced? Next year, the students of this campus are going to have the opportunity to answer these questions. We have an opportunity that only comes once a generation. When the Swarthmore 2020 campaign steering committee wraps up its work next year, it will have allocated several hundred million dollars answering those questions. It will consist of eight members; one of them will be the Student Council President.
There are things that I feel that money should go towards: turning Film Studies in to a real department, expansion of the Women’s Studies Department so it can offer majors, expansion of the Asian Studies Department to include more South Asian classes, numerous measures to make Swarthmore greener, expanding large departments, like Political Science, so students need not have to fear most of their classes going to a lottery, need blind international admissions, and a decrease in the summer work expectation for financial aid. As president, what I would be much more interested to know, however, is what direction the other 1,484 or so other students that attend Swarthmore want to see the school head. I would take numerous steps to ensure that Student Council solicited opinions concerning this from every possible group from SAO to Earthlust, from Phi Psi to Psi Phi. Furthermore, I would make the whole process more transparent so students could ensure that the President is working for them and accurately representing their interests.
Of course, I have short term goals as well: I want to send all members of SBC, FFS and SAC to the same anti-oppression workshop that StuCo attends twice a year, I want to have card reading locks put on the dorm doors for safety and security, I want to continue to work with Sharples on improving their selection and accessibility. I would be no less passionate about soliciting short term goals from students and groups, as well.
So what should be the direction of Swarthmore? I think it is time for the student body to unite and assert their presence in deciding the answer to that question. Having served for a year on Student Council and nearly two years on SBC, I believe that I have the experience and passion needed to help that body assert itself as a powerful force for deciding change. I hope the voters of this school agree with me. My time and effort is a small price to pay for all of the joy, fun and stimulation this school has given me, and I think it is time for me to start to repay my debt. Together, we can substantially shape the present and future of this school.