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.
In the world of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, the character’s souls exist outside of themselves; the people are inextricably linked to their daemons, their souls, by thought, feeling, and even an inexplicable physical bond. They cannot be torn away from their daemons by any natural process, and though the witches have the uncanny ability to be thousands of miles away from their souls, they are still intimately connected. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being abroad this semester, it’s that, like it or not, Swarthmore, and the people it contains, are a part of my soul. And, confound that sense of social responsibility, I can’t help but want to work tirelessly for it.
In my year as Campus Life Representative from Spring 07-Fall 07, Student Council reached out to different sectors of the Swarthmore community with Training for Change diversity workshops and IC and BCC forums and meetings. We saw it as our responsibility to better explain the appointments process, the Swarthmore budget, and SBC rules and appeals. We extended hours of operation in McCabe, Kohlberg coffee bar, and Essie Mae’s. One of my greatest pushes was for increased transparency—which we did through tabling at Sharples once a week, engaging the Pheonix and the Daily Gazette at every meeting, updating and utilizing the Student Council bulletin board in Parrish, and beginning a bi-semesterly campus newsletter. I worked with ITS to update the dashboard; with Dining Services to provide better labeling and vegetarian options; with Facilities to do everything from fixing light bulbs to planning a future “One Card” system; and was in constant contact with the Deans’ Office to realize student feedback. On the Charter Committee, I am proud to say we strained the student budget by chartering such groups as Mock Trial, NOLArize!, and Ping Pong. I took a special interest in connecting with the Alumni Council to increase their visibility and relevance on campus; and served on the Deans Advisory Council, Search Committee for the Dean of Academic Affairs, and Orientation Committee, as well as a Tour Guide for the Admissions Office.
With all this experience, I like to think I know Swarthmore and its avenues well. After all, my previous role on Student Council was always one of zealous leadership, and there was more than one occasion when the rest of StuCo half-jokingly forbid me to do more for Council in a given week. While the position of President will present me such differences as attending Board of Manager meetings and personal audiences with the Al Bloom, you can rest assured that my time as Campus Life Representative will allow me to hit the ground running.
Though I will continue to push for things like increased transparency, the greening of Swarthmore, the implementation of the “One Card” system, and, yes, better options at Sharples, my method of operation on Student Council has always been to provide opportunities for students to give feedback, listen, and respond accordingly. To this end I will continue to table weekly at Sharples; meet with student leaders; and make myself accessible via email, phone, and in person. Though in Spain, I’d love to hear from you via email at rjohnst1 to answer any questions you may have about my campaign.