Educational Policy Representative, Esther Burson

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.

My name is Esther Burson, and I’d like to serve as your Educational Policy Representative. I gained experience in educational policy when I served as the student representative to the Council on Educational Policy (CEP) last semester. As the only student representative to a committee of faculty members, I got comfortable speaking out about student opinion. This experience will allow me to make sure that students’ voices are heard.

My main goals for educational policy reforms here at Swarthmore are to get an updated course recommendation guide working online, and to make sure that the online and paper course catalogues include blurbs for all classes offered, and do not continue to list courses that are no longer offered. I believe that these changes will help us get the information we want when picking classes each semester.

I will open a discussion on the possibility of expanding interdisciplinary minors, such as Environmental Studies, Cognitive Science, and Peace and Conflict Studies into official majors, so that it is easier for students to major in these fields, and majors will have more departmental support.

I would also like to talk about removing restrictions on how many majors and minors students can pursue. Right now Swarthmore limits students to one major and up to two minors, or two majors and no minors. Everyone has different interests, and I feel that if a student wants to have two majors and a minor, or one major and three minors, he should be allowed to do so.

I would also like to find ways to improve first year and transfer advising, so that every student gets the support she needs from the beginning.

Most importantly, I want to make sure that student opinion is fully represented. My priority is to share student opinion, so I will approach the position of Educational Policy Representative with an open mind. I want to know what you think, so that I can bring your opinions to the faculty. I find that we often assume that issues of educational policy are out of our control. I want to prove that this isn’t true. If enough students speak up about how to improve W-course or PE requirements, we can effect positive change.

In my time on the CEP, I was discouraged by the structure of meetings; I felt that, as a student, my role was to answer very specific questions of administrators and faculty members, rather than to share the student perspective more broadly. If elected Educational Policy Representative, I will talk to students and create a list of our concerns and ideas before every faculty meeting. I will then work with the CEP to find a time to share the students’ agenda at each CEP meeting. I feel that, in this way, I can make our voices heard, and best serve your interests.

What I want to do for educational policy matters more than who I am, but, in case you’re curious, I’m a rising senior double major in psychology and Classical languages. I’m abroad this semester, so you may not remember me, but let’s just say that I’m doing research for the position—I want to be able to relate to a wide range of academic experiences, including study abroad.

Outside class, I founded and co-coordinate Swarthmore’s equestrian club, I serve on the Cooper Committee, I’m a member of SwatCambodia, I do lighting design with the theater department, and I hold jobs as a research assistant in the psychology department, a study clinic leader in the Classics department, and a tour guide and information session presenter for the Office of Admissions.

If you have any questions about what I believe and what I want to do for you, shoot me an e-mail.

Thanks for your time, and vote Esther for Educational Policy Representative!

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