StuCo Presidential Debate

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.

The two presidential candidates for next year’s StuCo, Rachel Bell and Shaun Kelly, argued their points in the Kohlberg Coffee Bar last night. The candidates for other StuCo positions, all uncontested, also made brief statements about their goals for the year.

In her opening speech, Rachel Bell ’10, who is running for president, started by talking about her experience as a current member of Student Council. “Having been on StuCo, I have learned a lot about how it works and what is feasible. My overarching goal is to improve the relationship between StuCo and student body. I want to reach out to different groups; the president should be very approachable. New groups don’t know where to get funding, seed money. I want an interactive user-friendly handbook or flowchart for groups.”

She also mentioned updating the Class Rec Book and granting all students access to the site, currently limited to Student Academic Mentors. Bell ended her introduction by talking about safety, in particular pressuring Public Safety on blue lights and “contacting students right away when emergencies happen.”

Shaun Kelly ’10, also running for president, said he was running because “it’s a very important time in Swarthmore’s history. There’s a new president coming in and an economic situation we haven’t dealt with before. StuCo’s role in shaping what Swarthmore becomes will be absolutely key in this coming year, shaping what Dr. Chopp’s reception of this place is. I want to reach out to student groups, not acting as a voice of all the people but bringing the groups to Dr. Chopp.” He too commented that security was a major issue: “I want to start a dialogue with Public Safety, see what we can do as students to help keep campus safer.” Kelly mentioned improving dark spaces on campus. When security incidents do happen, he added, “the information given can be stigmatizing to some groups when not much information is out there,” presumably referring to the initial description on Wednesday morning of the attackers simply as “two black males.”

He concluded, “I do plan on dedicating most of my time to being president if elected, 20-30 hours per week.”

The candidates for the other Student Council positions all ran unopposed. Each of them gave a short introductory speech before the two presidential candidates took student questions.

Ben Francis ’12, who is running for Student Groups Advisor, had three main points. “First, I want to keep groups really informed around campus, especially about funding. There’s a whole lot of funding besides SBC, which is great but can’t do everything. There’s the FFS, discretionary funds, and it’s hard for new groups to know about these things. As member of SBC I’ll review proposals before they’re brought before the committee.” Second, he said, he would update the SBC website, and third, he wants to reach out to groups. “I want to hear the groups’ concerns and ask group leaders about how things are going, what they want to see. Once a year won’t cut it—try once a month.” And if they needed anything specific, Francis said, he’d be glad to help.

Richard Brode ’11 is running for Financial Policy Representative. He started by talking about the economic crisis. “The endowment lost 40%, which is not atypical across the board but it’s a huge amount. As representative, my goal will be to make sure student group funding will be cut as little as possible and maintain a high quality of life, similar to the past couple of years.” Brode also mentioned that he would push the College Budget Committee to at least entertain new spending initiatives. He also hopes to improve connections between students, Career Services, and potential employers, since, he said, “it’s hard to get a job in the corporate world.”

Marie Rousseau ’12 is running for Campus Life Representative. Her main point was that many students have no idea what Student Council does. “As campus life rep I would try to reach out more to students and update them via email; I want feedback without having to organize meetings,” mentioning that responding by email would be more convenient for interested students. “We should have minutes in the StuCo space in Parrish. The minutes are not really out there—you have to go out of way to see what StuCo is up to. I think that should change, and I’m trying to do that.”

Esther Burson ’10 is running to be the Educational Policy Representative. She did not attend the debate, as she is currently abroad.

Yongjun Heo ‘09, the current Student Council president, asked the first question of the presidential debate: “Take one new initiative that you have in mind, and talk us through the process of how you’d get it done.”
Shaun Kelly: “The initiative I’d put forward is working on the lighting on campus. There are a number of very dark areas. The first step would be to identify dark ares personally, and I’ve done that. After doing that and having student input and making sure other people are concerned about lighting, I’d talk to StuCo and make sure they were behind me. I’d go to Dr. Chopp and Facilities and Public Safety to come to an economically feasible solution to the problem. A few lights here or there could fundamentally affect how safe we feel and are on campus.”
Rachel Bell: “I’d look at the problems that international students face during orientation. They only really get to interact with fellow international students, and not American students.” Workshops only really work, she said, when they are diverse. As for getting things done, “the StuCo president should know the right person and go and talk to them. That’s how I operate: I go straight to the people who need to be talked to.”

Student question: “What do you think is the biggest issue facing the student body, and how would you go about dealing with it?”
RB: “Problems with general feelings of inclusion and exclusion. Student groups feel shafted by the administration and StuCo, non-varsity sports don’t feel they get a lot of funding, groups don’t feel they get the funding they need for their events or speakers.
Opening the administration to students is the first step: let students know where to go if you need funding. A lot of resources are available.”
SK: “Safety is a huge issue right now. It’s not something that you expect here at Swarthmore. It’ll be a very tricky thing to keep our campus as open as it is but find ways that allow us to feel safe and be safer. We need student dialogue with public safety on how we can stay safer, what they can do to make us safer. Lighting, again, is a big issue. I’d bring students from the outskirts of campus into the conversation.”

Q: “Recently a current StuCo member expressed the opinion that there were too many cultural groups on campus. Your opinion?”
SK: “I hadn’t heard that, it’s interesting. One of the great things about Swarthmore is the plurality of ideas. Sometimes two groups that might look similar from the outside can be very different, diverging in goals, origination of group or how it wants to operate. If two groups want to merge that’s great for the budget, but that’s the groups’ concern.”
RB: “SBC has a lot of money to give to different groups, but StuCo chartered [committee] isn’t going to slash any groups or force them to merge. That isn’t going to happen.”

Q: “Working with the administration and groups, sometimes you’ll have to make decisions as a leader, the right choice at the right time. What experience do you have as a leader, the only one in front of a group?”
SK: “Concrete instance of when I’ve been a leader—well, the most obvious thing is back in high school, where I was president of the student body. On campus, I produced the play that just went up [12 Angry Men].”
RB: “I’ve been really involved in creating events on campus, starting those efforts on my own. Also, during the summers, I teach. I think StuCo president is a unique position, not sure past experience can be sufficient to represent that. But how I would work as a leader would be really dynamic, trying to keep all different interests in my head and balance between those. I think I’m good at doing that.”

One student asked the candidates if they could list 10 IC/BCC groups—as a hypothetical question, she said, but they decided to try. If it was a contest, Bell was the clear winner, continuing with three or four more group names after Kelly had stopped.

The most heated part of the debate came with the question of whether or not there should be a handbook for student groups. Bell was in favor of creating a “student-friendly” flowchart to help those applying for funding, while Kelly contended that if StuCo were “more open,” groups would be comfortable coming to the Council for help.

Bell also suggested an “Ask the StuCo President” column in the Gazette or the Phoenix, as a way to create a more public forum for questions and debate.

In response to a question about putting pressure on the school’s administration, both candidates said they would have no trouble pushing the administration to listen and respond to student concerns.

At the end of the debate, each candidate had a chance to ask the other a question.

RB: “I’m curious, not having seen you at council meetings, what do you imagine the council dynamic is and how it should be?”
SK: “What I imagine it is, based on conversations I’ve had, is that it works by consensus. Governing by consensus is a noble goal,” he said, and complimented those who “accept the good even when they don’t agree. Being fun is great as well, having smiling faces at the meetings.”

SK: “Knowing that you are an honors econ major and polisci minor, will you have time in your senior year to dedicate your 20-30 hours a week that it will probably take to run StuCo effectively?”
RB: “Yes, I think I will have time, I will make the time. I know what presidents have done in the past. I don’t think being involved precludes being a good leader.”


  1. Sorry to be picky, but I would just like to clarify and correct a few things:
    On the international orientation issue, I really discussed how I learned about it today from international studies, and went right away and talked to Stephan, who is one of the heads of the Orientation Committee. I work quickly and will not make students wait for any action on my part. Also, the diversity training comment had more to do with the including the issues international students face in the workshops.

    When talking about exclusion and inclusion, I meant many non-varsity sports (not too speak about varsity sports, because I have not talked to those members about these issues), such as club sports, feel they do not get the support they need to be active and competitive.

    And I did know all the groups in the IC/BCC — I like to be in the know, I guess. It is important for people to know the individual groups, but I do not think that is sufficient for a healthy relationship between StuCo and the former.


  2. Rachel, I misheard the varsity/non-varsity thing — will fix that.

    I did also have to cut out a lot of the debate, so this article doesn't cover everything that happened.

  3. Honestly, who cares how many IC/BCC groups the candidates can name? Pure "gotcha" questions meant to do nothing except play on identity politics.

    Should we ask them to name all the interdisciplinary majors and minors next? all the club and varsity sports teams? all of the major administrative committees? all the Sharples bars?

  4. "all the Sharples bars" sounds like a Jeopardy category.

    also, can anyone explain the motivation behind the "Vote NOTA" signs I've seen popping up around campus?

    Sean and Rachel both seem like good candidates to me, and if we voted NOTA in hopes of getting better candidates, then, well, why didn't those better candidates declare themselves the first time around? I wouldn't want to vote for anyone who only decided to run after deciding they didn't like Sean and Rachel…

  5. Personally, as someone at the debate, I don't think this article accurately characterizes what was said by the candidates or the concerns raised by those attending.

    Neither of the candidates were able to convincingly articulate how to address the needs of IC-BCC groups or activist groups. Shaun literally asked permission to attend SASS meetings (to which I personally reply: back off whitey, who do you think you are?") and Rachel took a shockingly neutral position to most questions. For the position of Student Council President, one needs more than time (Shaun: if you did nothing but diversity training for the next year, I would still feel uncomfortable meeting with you to discuss most issues concerning my identity and political beliefs) and communication skills (Rachel: opening communication, giving out your phone number, and talking to leaders of diversity groups is too neutral a stance on many issues).

    In principle, I will most certainly be voting None of the Above. I think I deserve a choice between qualified candidates. I do not want a Financial Policy Representative who is not deeply, personally invested in how financial aid works and how socioeconomic class affects one's Swarthmore experience (also, what econ major advocates increased spending after noting how much the endowment has lost. also, student groups are funded through the Activities Fee, while many other activities not associated with student groups, I'll call 'programming,' ultimately come from the endowment). I don't want a Student Life Representative who doesn't understand how Student Council works (If I remember, the candidate indicated they had never been to a StuCo meeting).

    Continue this conversation and comment bellow. A NOTA plurality will not prevent the current candidates from strengthening their platforms and running again in a couple weeks, but it will give us more choice. This is not meant as a personal attack to any of the candidates. I do not claim to speak for anyone but myself. Please excuse the anonymity.

  6. Anonymous,
    I'd like to defend my perceived neutrality, and how that would change if elected. The truth is, while I am aware of some issues and concerns of the IC-BCC, I honestly do not know them well enough. And if elected, I want to know these things — and I guess that's where the communication part enters. I know that is not sufficient, and I suppose I should make clear what I want to do beyond that: I will figure out what the IC-BCC's concerns are and what they would like to see changed, and fight for it. Sure, opening up communication is very neutral, but I did not mean for that to seem like it is the only thing I would do. I first want to know what is happening and then act, and act right away. We can talk more specifically, but I would just like to make it clear that once I will not be a neutral or passive president. I will take the administration on if they will not budge, and fight for the student interest.
    I truly and genuinely care about doing a great job as president, and want to be anything but neutral once I actually take action.
    Thanks for the constructive and informative response.

  7. Anonymous,

    Just to be perfectly clear, never, ever have I requested to attend SASS's closed meetings. I apologize if I gave you that impression, and would love to clarify anything that gave you that impression.

    I ask all Swatties to continue asking questions, but please do not make ungrounded accusations either toward Rachel or me. To do so is patently unfair and detrimental to the process.

  8. I see the conversation is alive and well here.. I can say that I share some of anonymous's anxieties. I'll post again what I wrote on Shaun's platform page, as it seems equally, if not more, relevant here.


    IC/BCC members might be interested in one of Shaun's favorite quotes, by Chesterton, "Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions."

    Of course, this could just be the anti-conformist quip of a philosophy major. But, after further facebook snooping, we start to see a narrative come together that's seemingly antithetical to the campus community, as well as President Chopp.

    Shaun, perhaps I am making too much of your facebook page, but in the context of Shame’s concerns about political belief, I see that you are fan boy of Alasdair MacIntyre. This name won't ring a bell for Swatties unless they're into moral philosophy or social criticism. But it's important that Swatties do know, since this is a world-view that will affect how Shaun goes about as StuCo President representing our school.

    Below is a summary of MacIntyre's (and Stanley Hauerwas’s closely related) position. In addition, there are some pretty incisive criticisms made by a scholar named Jeff Stout. (By the way, Stout is friends with Chopp and writes about her in Democracy and Tradition; check it out). In essence, MacIntyre sees democratic pluralism (ensuring, you know, that each person has a voice in the public sphere) as a waste of time. Make of it what you will, but this is a sticking point for me.


    MacIntyre is a “new traditionalist,” a thinker who proclaims that American democracy lacks the moral values it needs to sustain a righteous way of life. For MacIntyre, the secularized, pluralistic nature of our modern society—which he equates to the “liberal projects” of thinkers like John Rawls—inhibits all possibility of a functioning ethical tradition. In After Virtue and Whose Justice? Which Rationality?, MacIntyre traces the corruption of ethics back to Enlightenment liberalism’s rejection of “the tradition of the virtues,” a coherent ethical basis from which humans once directed their moral compasses (DT, 122). MacIntyre believes that this “tradition of the virtues” has been destroyed by liberalism’s desire to rid society of all virtue-tradition; modern liberalism, he claims, wants to eliminate tradition in order to achieve the perspective of universal human reason.

    To illustrate his contention that tradition is being corrupted by democratic liberalism, MacIntyre writes a spectacularly vivid description of the state of ethics within liberal modernity. In his 1981 book After Virtue, MacIntyre uses colorful rhetoric to illustrate the tragic fall of the “tradition of the virtues,” employing a scientific epistemological catastrophe as a metaphor. MacIntyre’s metaphor implies that the ethical discourse of our society consists of scattered pieces, which pertain to a once coherent ethical tradition that we will never be able to ‘piece back’ together. Our modern liberal democracy literally exists ‘after virtue,” diametrically opposed to a coherent, pre-modern ethical tradition that has all but disappeared (AV 1-5). This can be seen by the fact that current liberal society is caught in a tangled web of competing, but equally compelling, truth claims (DT, 123). The upshot of MacIntyre’s narrative is that as long as our moral fabric is fragmented—due to our society’s pluralism—we will be left with little hope for a means with which we can hold intelligible ethical conversation with one another.

    Stout’s Democracy and Tradition levels a number of criticisms against MacIntyre and Hauerwas’s anti-liberal traditionalism. First, MacIntryre and Hauerwas ignore why modern secularization—which they see as “liberal fragmentation”—happened in the first place: “When high levels of agreement on metaphysics or on a complete theory of the good life could not be achieved through rational argument, some parties used coercion…Others, however, tried to hammer out a way of thinking and talking about ethical issues that did not presuppose theological agreement” (DT, 127). Stout wants to argue that modern society departed from a coherent (Christian) “tradition of the virtues” in order to accommodate democratic pluralism. “Liberal secularization” was necessary to allow many different groups the ability to have a voice in the public sphere.

    Second, Stout observes that both men encounter problems in their “point of view.” MacInyre and Hauerwas have trouble accounting for the creation of the anti-liberal argument itself: “[Because] traditionalism itself belongs to modern ethical discourse, and could not have sprung out of nowhere, it is bound to have trouble accounting for itself without abandoning its contention that Cobbett and Austen were without modern heirs” (DT, 134). Both men find themselves talking about modern-day ethical decadence in particularly ethical terms, which makes it hard for them to account for the existence of their antiliberal argument in the first place; they essentially argue that a “tradition of the virtues” does not exist in modern-day society, while they debate from that very position. For Stout, MacIntyre and Hauerwas give an inadequate explanation of how their argument has survived such a powerfully fragmented liberal world.

    Third, Stout believes that MacIntyre and Hauerwas mischaracterize American democracy as “the liberal project” and as “anti-traditional.” They want to conform all of what they dislike in democratic society to John Rawls' political liberalism. Stout argues, however, that Rawls mistakenly characterizes America as “liberal;” the phrase “liberal society” is too simple a term to describe such a complex system of public and private institutions. Hence, because both respond to Rawls, Stout believes that they argue against an inaccurate definition of contemporary society. Finally, insomuch as the two men mischaracterize society, Stout notes that MacIntyre and Hauerwas’s anti-liberal shtick creates an erroneous wedge between democracy and tradition. For Stout, modern American democracy is also a tradition, holding together an ethical system of enduring democratic “attitudes, concerns, dispositions, and patterns of conduct” which its citizens incessantly seek to perfect (DT, 3).

  9. Hah, I love people like anonymous on this campus. They don't "feel comfortable" talking with "whitey" or anyone who doesn't ascribe to their own brand of political beliefs. Such models of tolerance, these folks are!

  10. Dear anonymous,

    The model of intolerance you've presented is exactly the kind of thing that makes most diversity groups on this campus so unwelcoming, even to those who fit into the strict norms that are often presented.

    You lost me at "whitey." Are you really so audacious to say that because both candidates are white, they cannot possibly relate to the needs of other cultural groups? What is it the groups you may belong to hope to gain from having a Stuco president who would be eligible to attend your closed meetings? I'm curious.

  11. Ah 'tolerator', if you would only read what I wrote, you would begin to understand that I'm actually on your side.

  12. Hey all. I appreciate the current debate surrounding my candidacy for StuCo President, and am glad that concerned emersonian democrat has pointed out my interest in Alasdair MacIntyre's critique of modern liberalism. I am especially interested in MacIntyre's reliance on virtue ethics as a lens through which to view morality; in fact MacIntyre is considered by many to be the person responsible for its wide spread revival.

    I have noticed that a number of my signs have disappeared from around campus. I ask whoever is removing them to please stop. If you are doing the same thing to Rachel's posters, please stop doing that as well.

  13. Anonymous, you claim that your post is not "meant as a personal attack to any of the candidates."

    However, as a personal friend of Shaun, I take great offense in you calling him "Whitey." I'm sure that he could think of numerous names to call you as well, but he wouldn't because he has more character. Your immature name calling is counterproductive. I believe you know this as well, and thus signed anonymously.

    I also think that voting "None of the Above" is an absolutely horrendous idea. I am surprised at the cruelty displayed by our community in student council elections. Do you really think that embarrassing the candidates will encourage others to run?

    I applaud both Rachel and Shaun for dealing with this surprising insult in such a professional way and believe that both of the initiative necessary to be great StuCo Presidents. I hope both of them work closely together after the election to share ideas, regardless the winner.

  14. One of my problems with the none of the above campaign is its anonymity. It makes the campaign and its backers very difficult to respond to — I can either:
    (a) make assumptions about who will be for none of the above, but (i) I do not really want to do that, and (ii) my targeting will inevitably be off;
    (b) respond in a public forum like the Daily Gazette, and that may not be good or satisfactory enough for those running the campaign, and may just trigger more anonymous responses;
    (c) ignore it, which really only makes the none of the above campaign's complaints about being ignored and not represented a self-fulfilling prophecy, which I also do not want.

    It's hard running for something like this because of the level of public scrutiny. I realize sometimes people may have a really great reason for posting anonymously. But posting anonymously and not beginning a more private correspondence with the candidates will not lead to truly productive dialogue.
    In fact, I think posting anonymously and running an anonymous campaign implies that you do not want a back-and-forth dialogue or for me to somehow really address your concerns. You know we cannot respond to you outside of the Gazette/Phoenix — the only way is to hear through gossip (etc) who is partially involved, and is that what you want?

    So I ask for those anonymous posters who do want changes or improvements made to reveal themselves to me– on here, via email, in person, etc.

    You can ask a few people: I got a bit upset about this because I really do care. It's hard not to take the flyers personally when they (1) do not say what a "better choice" would be, and (2) who is launching the campaign.
    I do not want to make this an issue of us, the candidates vs. everyone else, but we put our names and faces out there… another serious contender (backers of none of the above) should do the same.

  15. Maybe my biggest issue with all of this is some great revulsion at 'neutrality', which I perceive as impartial, uninterested, or unbiased. Though you could fault both candidates for their lack of experience with IC/BCC issues, I don't think you can fault them for being uninterested, as they've specifically voiced interest, and I mean, you don't WANT them at your meetings. And that's fine, perfectly understandable, but you can't really have it both ways, can you? And impartiality and unbiased? These are qualities that a candidate representing the whole student body should possess. Both candidates spoke of giving IC/BCC groups an opportunity to have a direct relationship with President Chopp, so anything 'non-neutral' could be communicated there. If you want a president who understand your issues and is non-neutral, then run a candidate FROM the IC/BCC community! They'd probably win.

  16. The large group of people behind the NOTA campaign will be sending out an email later today explaining the precise reasons as to why both current candidates (and the others) are seen as inadequate, what they propose instead, etc. They will also be hosting an open forum where these reasons (and what would constitute a better candidacy) would be openly discussed. Voting NOTA would allow more time for the student body to engage in a debate about the issues concerning us. Even if the potential candidates that have already said that they would be willing to run (if NOTA wins) do not ultimately win, the open forum will at least clarify the needs of the student body for whoever turns out to be president. The main reason behind the late response (ie. not launching a candidate before) was that at the presidential debate (which was a bit more than a day ago) there was a realization that both candidates are (or at least seem) dangerously neutral and unpassionate about most issues (besides lighting).

  17. you get what you get and you don't throw a fit, my mama always taught me.
    I doubt the group of people behind NOTA is "large."
    I don't doubt that the large group of people behind it are cowardly and a bit mean-spirited.

  18. I want to respond to the NOTA supporter with the reminder that the open forum is exactly what I want to do and, if elected, what I plan and have always planned to do at the start of each semester (at a minimum). I want students to help set my agenda — that was in my platform and I guess I have not emphasized that enough. I agree that an open forum clarifying the needs of the student body is a good thing, and that is exactly what I would hold if elected.

  19. Yeay, fresh open and accepting discourse between peers. We did not have a problem like this two years ago, and we will definitely not experience anything like this again in the next three years, because the open discussion will heal all wounds and we will find a solution that will endure till the last stone falls. I love this place.

  20. When are where will this "Open" forum be located. I haven't seen any advertising for this event at all. Will the supporters of "NOTA" be wearing masks to this event as well? I patiently wait for this email to come. It should be interesting how NOTA will try to communicate to the entire student body.

  21. can we bring the jolt back? this way everyone who's angry and wants to fling bile can follow me there and "discuss" on a forum that promotes name-calling, ad hominem attacks, gossip, and ranting. everyone who wants to have a "real" "discussion" can stay here.

  22. NOTA Supporter,

    First I’d like to say that I truly believe the campaign for NOTA is a
    legitimate form of democratic participation. If you’ve found us as
    candidates to be lacking, then you’re exercising your right to demand different candidates. That is why NOTA exists. However—and this is specifically with regards to the four candidates (myself included) who are running unopposed—you have failed to give us the opportunity to respond to your concerns. We did not get the chance to answer any questions at the debate—not a single one. Please do not make the assumption that just because I am a straight white male, I am anti-sympathetic to the concerns
    of IC/BCC groups. I want to hear your concerns. That’s why one of my platform points is reaching out to groups in the first place.
    Unfortunately, rather than furthering public discourse by stating your concerns (I’ve read through your remarks time and again, and have yet to find an enumerated concern), you have chosen to take a deconstructive course in voting NOTA without first being informed.
    I very much hope you will respond to this post, and ask the other three unopposed candidates and me difficult questions. If you find our answers to be lacking, then by all means vote NOTA. Until then, I urge you to act responsibly.

  23. Benjamin, I appreciate your candor. However, I would have to say this: there is a fundamental difference between being "sympathetic" to hearing the needs of the IC/BCC community and really devoting yourself to those needs because you believe that everyone needs representation and advocacy, especially those who belong to marginalized and oppressed groups on this campus.

    How many open IC/BCC events have you been too? Why is it that I feel like every candidate all of a sudden professes an obligation to the IC/BCC community when they feel that they need votes, but before the election didn't take it upon themselves to step out of their comfort zones and engage with issues that are preventing many of the students on this campus from being successful?

    Don't treat us like a voting block. Don't tokenize us. Don't all of a sudden profess to be able to represent us in StuCo, when you've evidenced by your lack of presence that you really don't care. You just want our vote. These issues aren't just important now that there's an election. They've always been important.

    That is why I am voting no confidence.

  24. As a student of color, I am getting the feeling that IC/BCC groups are sort of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by not being open to the candidates who, in my opinion, do want to understand these groups better.

    Perhaps there should be a forum for members of these groups to communicate better to the general Swarthmore community. To me, it is a shock that some groups of students feel marginalized and oppressed on campus. "Disenfranchised," as an ordinary student not running for council, I would really appreciate if you could voice some of the concerns that you have.

  25. Uh, have you guys considered that you could just run your own candidate and encourage people to write in for that candidate? The chances of that working are probably higher than None of the Above being successful and it's a small enough campus that you could get the message out pretty easily.

    That's if you actually have real issues, and real solutions, and a real candidate.

    and lol@anonymous' unintentional irony. I feel like if these people had senses of humor they might be able to realize how ridiculous they are.

  26. "the NOTA campaign will be sending out an email later today explaining the precise reasons as to why both current candidates (and the others) are seen as inadequate"

    I can't seem to find this email in my inbox. Why should I trust a NOTA candidate's campaign promises if the organization fails at sending a simple email?

  27. in response to Epic Fail:

    Why we would like you to VOTE NONE OF THE ABOVE in the upcoming Student Council Elections…

    First of all, the writers of this letter do not claim to speak for everyone invested in the None of the Above campaign, and we do not exclusively support any particular candidates in the hoped-for second round of elections. Also, this letter is not meant as a personal attack towards any of the candidates or their supporters (we apologize in advance for any distress this causes those directly affected).

    We are voting NOTA to voice some common frustrations around some of the current candidates, but also the clear lack of choice for most of the positions. In addition, we wish to start a campus wide conversation about the possibility for a new interpretation of Student Council that is more in touch with the needs of our diverse student body. We are voting NOTA as a call to raise awareness about how important Student Council positions are, and to urge others to expect more from their representatives. Student Council can and should be a far more meaningful advocate for student causes in the Swarthmore community.

    Much of the energy behind the NOTA campaign stems from disappointment over the recent Student Council debates. Of course, our response to the current candidates is not intended as a personal attack. Anyone currently running is welcome to run again if NOTA wins a plurality of the vote.

    On Wednesday’s debate, both presidential candidates emphasized personal communication skills that make them suitable representatives of the student voice. Though we appreciate the sincerity of the candidates’ desire to listen to individual students and groups, we demand more from a president than an open ear. One candidate admitted their lack of any substantial involvement in IC/BCC events or campaigns, and we believe such a longstanding disinterest in issues affecting the lives of many Swarthmore students is detrimental, no matter what promises are made in the days leading up to elections. The other presidential candidate was clearly more engaged in such anti-oppression work, but was still imprecise in regards to all but the most minor campaigns and changes to the functioning of the Council itself.

    We are thankful when the student government promotes small adjustments in everyday life such as extended coffee bar hours and gym requirements, but Student Council should play a prominent role in fighting for larger, more complex issues such as transparency. While the rhetoric might say that important meetings open only to the Student Council President would be less effective if they were open and advertised widely as such, the compromise between efficiency and transparency should be reexamined. A more proactive role would not disrupt the traditional operations of Student Council, but only increase the areas where Student Council supports the Swarthmore student body.

    We commend Rachel Bell and Shaun Kelly’s commitment to the Swarthmore community, but feel that both candidates spoke too vaguely about the issues they themselves indicated were the most important. Both candidates have expressed enthusiasm for more security lighting on campus, yet neither have discussed it in a way that addresses the real reasons this issue has yet to be resolved in previous years. Neither the cost of some security systems (such as blue lights), nor the privacy violations implied by installing cameras, nor the role of general lighting versus walkway lighting were discussed in such a way that reflected a deep understanding of this issue. Even when some of these considerations were brought up, such as the latter, no convincing solution was proposed.

    We whole-heartedly thank Rachel for her superb work as student events advisor, and Shaun for his good-natured campaign, but must admit that, unfortunately, neither candidate seems to be ideal head of the entire student community. Please vote None of the Above in the 2009 Student Council elections to allow for the possibility of new candidates in the Presidential race, and the uncontested positions. Another round of elections will undoubtedly produce candidates that hear our call for diversity awareness and acute leadership qualities. We deserve more choices and a Student Council that more closely resembles the excitement, energy, and intelligence of Swarthmore students. Let us elect a student government we are proud of.

  28. @Peter '11
    I'm not a member of the IC/BCC communities, so this is just a wild guess, but maybe being constantly positioned as "you guys" and "these people" and generally a Scary Other of the campus is one of the "real issues" that's frustrating and infuriating so many of your fellow students.

  29. Fair enough. At least it's more civil than "whitey." It would be easier to more specifically address the parties responsible for the None of the Above campaign if they weren't completely vague and anonymous, self-defining as marginalized and isolated from the available candidates who could not hope to ever represent them. When a group definitely sets itself apart but fails to define itself in away way I'm left with little recourse but vague collective pronouns. I certainly wouldn't talk about IC/BCC communities broadly because I know people affiliated with some of these groups who would never waste their time on something this ludicrous, so I wouldn't want this group to give the much larger IC/BCC community a bad name.

    And, really, the line about "these people" can refer more broadly to anyone who takes themselves too seriously which, rather than being a Scary Other, describes the majority of the people on this campus.

  30. Here's my take as the outgoing Student Groups Advisor.

    Student council as a whole serves as a two-way conduit of information between the administration and the student body. The administration uses SC as a sounding board for ideas about possible changes for the future, how to respond to current issues on campus, and as a source for student issues to come up. The administration asked SC about the possibility of giving faculty the emergency cell phone numbers of students, which SC promptly rejected. Student Council selected the two students who served on the presidential selection committee, for instance, and selects which students or student groups participate in the board of managers luncheon. Student council also serves as pathway for student concerns to be presented to the campus; issues such as lighting, Sharples food, financial aid, faculty tenure decisions. These are issues which affect most or all of the campus minority or not. Many of the things SC does are on response to concerns raised by specific demographies: pushing back the closing time of Essie Mae's was in large part because athletes complained they did not have time to eat dinner after their practices. We are currently finalizing work to allow international students places to stay on campus if their flights are canceled or changed to be after the move-out day, and also to increase international students' storage space. SC as a whole is concerned with all aspects of student life and concern, and therefore cannot and should not target one particular demography to champion.

    SC's job is not to be an advocate for the IC/BCC, but instead to be an advocate for all students — the IC/BCC communities play an important role in that, but not the only role. Therefore having a president with no or little experience in the IC/BCC communities is definitely a tick against him or her, but that person may have other valuable qualities: in this election, Rachel is very tapped into the social life on campus and has previous experience on council; Shaun has connections across many different demographies, such as various athletic organizations, and has shown a fresh voice. Both candidates have shown an apparently genuine interest in getting to know the IC/BCC communities and their concerns better now that they are running for president — which makes sense. They have recognized a weakness in their ability to lead, and are doing the best they can to address it.

    Furthermore, there are many other disenfranchised groups on campus that these two candidates could approach. Religious groups, for instance, are numerous and active, and represent an important aspect of college life (especially on a very secular campus); religious groups are just as oppressed and marginalized, though perhaps less visibly so, as ethnic, cultural, sexual, or racial minorities. A good SC president should be talking to the religious groups about their concerns. A good SC president should talk to the social action groups about their role on campus — to the students on financial aid about their position on campus — to the conservatives on campus — to the actors and musicians — to the scientists — to. EVERYONE! The IC/BCC is important, but sometimes a little too self-important. SC president should understand everything and everyone, not just the obvious minorities.

    the IC/BCC also have resources which provide them direct access to the administration: Raphael Zatapa and Tim Sams are both administrators whose primary job is to interact with the IC and the BCC respectively. the IC/BCC communities get dedicated funding from the administration which is not available to other students. There already are advocacy channels in place for the IC/BCC to make their unique concerns known to the administration; and while SC should not therefore ignore the IC/bCC, this means that SC should not be treating the IC/BCC groups as needing special treatment above any other group of students with concerns.

    Finally, the SC president's job is to run all of SC, a leader and manager above specific concerns. that is why the SC president is a de facto member of all committees. The other positions on SC are more specific. My job is the one perhaps most directly related to the IC/BCC, as I am advisor to all student groups. And in that capacity I have reached out to unchartered groups such as HAN and Middle Eastern Club to suggest they consider applying for a charter. I have also talked with IC/BCC members frequently about their issues and concerns, and done my best to address them. I have also attended many of the events hosted by the IC/BCC, out of personal interest and a desire to do my job well. If looking for advocacy, consider talking to the next Student Groups Advisor. SC also have two student Life representatives. IC/BCC definitely fall under student life — hundred of parties, study breaks, dinners, lectures, and other events are hosted by IC/BCC groups. Talk to your student life reps about how IC/BCC groups need better representation through student life.

    If IC/BCC communities really feel they are still underrepresented, why not advocate for a specific position on council to be something of an outreach position? a IC/BCC liason, perhaps. We could possibly make on of the student Life positions into "Intercultural Liason". This would be a constructive and long-term solution to the problem of under-representation.

    Personally, I do not feel that IC/BCC is marginalized by SC. At least 6 members of the current SC (including our current president) have been involved with at least one IC/BCC group. Of the remaining four, ALL have made efforts to understand and appreciate the issues of IC/BCC. Though large in number, the IC/BCC communities did not field any candidates this election cycle, further legitimizing any of their current complaints.

    The current candidates for office are fine, upstanding, and concerned individuals, and the NOTA campaign, inasmuch as certain people have connected it to the IC/BCC communities, is an embarrassing and vile degradation of the entire IC/BCC and its reputation on campus.

    your faithful servant and Student Groups Advisor,

  31. The NOTA campaign IS NOT a product of IC/BCC groups. It is a product of students who are concerned with the lack of CHOICE in the current elections. NOTA supporters are not confident that the current candidates are fit for the job of being proactive leaders in making the changes that seem so necessary (if there is so much controversy about IC/BCC groups then obviously it is not simply a matter of "tick" against the candidates). Such a leadership requires a longstanding commitment to issues besides organizing social events and attending ramen parlor parties.

  32. NOTA supporter, what exactly does "a longstanding commitment to issues" require?

    NOTA has FAILED to explain to the student population what issues the candidates have not covered that need to be addressed.

    The exception could be that the candidates have a "lack of any substantial involvement in IC/BCC events."

    What is the measuring for "involvement" and "commitment"? do the candidates have to be active members of ALL student groups to represent them?

    NOTA supporter, the controversy about IC/BCC groups stems from rumors that NOTA is primarily made of members of these groups. Overall, none of the other groups on campus, notably Athletes, Religious groups, Earthlust, College Democrats/ Republicans, Music Groups seem to have any problems with the candidates.

  33. Hey Vivaan,

    I just wanted to say I disagree slightly with the method you propose to start a campus dialogue about the role of Student Council, which is to support candidates not currently on the ballot. I think an open and inclusive discussion would be most effective if there weren't the issue of trying to campaign for uncontested positions. I think people can effectively voice concerns about current candidates and the mathematics of this election (5 positions open and 6 candidates running) without actively supporting alternative candidates yet.

    Rest assured, though, that almost anyone who engages in conversations around voting NOTA must also think about who would run in the hoped-for second round… and that is kinda the point, to rethink what are options might have been if more people had decided to run.

    (A quick aside, based on personal feelings, about the lack of IC/BCC representation for the elections: There are dynamics at play here that need to be recognized in terms of who runs for Council. Other commitments including work-study affect populations differently, such as people of color on this campus. It also seems to me that people from the IC/BCC community put on a lot, if not the vast majority, of events on this campus. Finally, one must recognize that many people of color and women work hard to outperform other students just so they will look equally good on paper due to discrimination in the work place. However you feel about the reasons for these extra time commitments, they are real considerations in many people's lives. It does not excuse political apathy, but I believe it must still be recognized in any analysis of participation in student government at Swat.)

    Okay, that was a little longer than I expected. I also wanted to finish by saying, Vivaann, you were my WA once. You did a great job. A part of me wishes you would try to communicate in a way that was less abrasive and insulting, like your last post.

  34. IC/BCC candidates WOULD run, but they're too busy being discriminated against. Gotta love the culture of victimization here.

  35. My issue with the NOTA campaign is that, as we've all discussed, being Student Council president requires a lot of passion and commitment, and evidencing that passion to the student body starts with declaring your candidacy and writing your platform.

    Maybe it's sad that only six students had enough passion to do that this time around, but still, all six of them have, at this point, shown me more than anyone else that they want to be on Student Council. If NOTA won, and we had to run new candidates, the first piece of information I would have about the new people would be "Wow, they didn't even want this job enough to run for it a few weeks ago… how committed are they really going to be?"

    If we want more people to run for Student Council, the way to do that is to make it a more appealing position–and the way to do that would be what? to eliminate other things students could do? I have a number of friends who care about the college community but who have chosen other ways to make their impact–writing for the Gazette or Phoenix, leading a cultural or activist group, serving on committees like SBC. "Not-having-a-lot-of-people-run-for-StuCo" suggests to me that this school is actually cultivating a lot of different ways to make an impact as an individual student, and that people are finding the ways that work best for them.

  36. The large group of people against the NOTA campaign will be sending out information later today explaining the precise reasons as to why both current candidates are seen as adequate. They will also be hosting an open forum explaining why NOTA's aims are illegitimate, unethical, and embarrassing to the Swarthmore Community. Even if NOTA manages to succeed, the open forum will at least clarify the disdain a big chunk of the student body has whoever has been supporting this cowardly attack on the candidates. The main reason behind the late response (ie. not denouncing NOTA before) was that there was not a realization that NOTA was dangerously unashamed and overly passionate about unstated issues.

  37. The large group of people against the NOTA campaign will be sending out information later today explaining the precise reasons as to why both current candidates are seen as adequate. They will also be hosting an open forum explaining why NOTA's aims are illegitimate, unethical, and embarrassing to the Swarthmore Community. Even if NOTA manages to succeed, the open forum will at least clarify the disdain a big chunk of the student body has whoever has been supporting this cowardly attack on the candidates. The main reason behind the late response (ie. not denouncing NOTA before) was that there was not a realization that NOTA was dangerously unashamed and overly passionate about unstated issues.

  38. One thing about this complaint about a lack of choice: yes, it is unfortunate not many people ran. But is it that surprising? Student Council changed the deadline from Friday to Sunday. That is and always has been an indicator (for StuCo elections, appointments, etc.) that not enough people (or no one, for that matter) have applied as the original deadline nears. Why didn't the people behind the NOTA campaign run or try to convince their friends to run from the beginning? People across campus had to have known that the choice of candidates was going to be limited.

  39. "the controversy about IC/BCC groups stems from rumors that NOTA is primarily made of members of these groups. Overall, none of the other groups on campus, notably Athletes, Religious groups, Earthlust, College Democrats/ Republicans, Music Groups seem to have any problems with the candidates."

    NOTA campaigners belong to numerous activist, environmental, and yes, a few IC/BCC groups.
    We ask that candidates be involved in ANYTHING beyond organizing parties (SAC) and financial bureaucracies (SBC).

    I at least am anonymous because the level that this debate has descended to is shocking. I cannot believe that Swarthmore students could be so aggressive and reactionary. Sincerely, NOTA campaigners do not mean to insult anyone, propose anarchy or are rebellious for the sake of being so. NOTA supporters are concerned with the community and simply wish for better (and simply more) options.

    THERE ARE OTHER CANDIDATES. They will present themselves if NOTA wins.

    quoting someone else:
    There may be a sense of voting for 'the lesser of two evils,' but that is
    exactly what the NOTA campaign rejects. We simply deserve better than
    that, and it is Swarthmore, for g-ds sake! We *have* better.

  40. thanks for the input, Dan Symonds '11.

    "I at least am anonymous because the level that this debate has descended to is shocking. "

    Well, who do you think started it? HINT: it wasn't rachel or shaun.

  41. I'm more than happy to participate in an open forum including all interested NOTA and non-NOTA voting students. That's really what we're looking for– some time to discuss what this election could mean for, and for me, a NOTA voter, to persuade you that we would be better off with a bigger group of candidates.
    As for the criticisms about NOTA voters not being more prepared earlier and running candidates, you seem to ignore the fact that this year's electoral field was instrumental in making students realize how woefully out of touch Student Council and the student body are. Rather than criticize my failure to submit a candidacy form on time, or whether my None of the Above vote is the result scheming by a collection of so-called whiny or pestering IC/BCC groups, let's get to talking about Student Council's role.

    Here's a handful of things I think student council should be more involved in (and no, I'm not reading a script from the downtown NOTA office)

    *More student representation regarding issues of where budget cuts should be made when necessary
    *ANY student representation on the financial aid planning committee, which determines the measurement of Swarthmore's famous, always-100%-met "demonstrated need"
    *The rising cost of textbooks and encouraging departments to negotiate for lower prices and more current textbooks in the library
    *Better understanding Swarthmore's relationship with Chester and making sure grant money is spent according to the wishes of Chester communities
    *More direct interaction between the Board of Managers and student groups and individuals
    *Pursuing a more explicitly class-based recruitment campaign
    *More transparency of the budget to determine whether Swarthmore's "ethical intelligence" is something it uses when investing
    *Being more open about options regarding the surplus student council budget and deciding with others how the huge sum should be spent.

    Please, let's focus on what this election means for students.

    Another NOTA voter tired of being called "unethical" and "unashamed"

  42. exhaustion typo: I meant to say "some time to discuss why this election is important, and hopefully to convince others that we deserve more choices"

    Dear No Thanks,
    I didn't write the message you credited to me– and what would it matter if I did? I hope the whole Thanks family had a wonderful time at parents weekend. Happy to talk in person if you want to talk about reasons for and against–but mostly for– none of the above voting.

  43. I was recently forwarded an email containing this:

    Brode has run on a campaign platform that insists spending not be cut on student group activities. Firstly, as an economics major, he should be aware of the reality facing everyone in the nation and especially this school, at which the endowment lost 40%. Secondly, he demonstrated a particularly weak understanding of how funding at this school works,
    confusing student group funding (which comes from the Activities Fee, the amount of which is determined by SBC and StuCo) with student programming(which comes from a lot of different places, like the Dean's Office, and the President's Office). Lastly, and most importantly, he has not
    demonstrated an acute understanding of how socioeconomic class affects one's Swarthmore experience. As Financial Policy Representative, Brode might easily misrepresent the interests of Swarthmore students, many of which receive financial aid.

    While I agree with the first two points, I was wondering if anyone (possibly the author of the email) could clarify the last. Richard Brode didn't mention socioeconomic class in his platform or his 1.5 minute statement at the debate. Is this the way in which he hasn't demonstrated an understanding of the effect of class on a student, or is there something else?

    Sure, a mention of financial justice issues would certainly be appropriate in a financial policy rep's platform, but if this non-inclusion is the author's only beef with the candidate, then "Brode might easily misrepresent the interests of Swarthmore students, many of which receive financial aid," seems a strong claim.

  44. Vivaan,
    If only there were an emoticon to describe my reaction to your most recent condescending remark. Suffice it to say: No, I don't think you've represented my views remotely accurately, and I feel it would be a waste of time to keep going in circles with you. Again, your bickering over campaign strategy obscures the real importance of what next year's student council will–or will not–get done.


  45. Gosh some of these comments are messed up and some of these comments are just plain mean–especially Vivaan's last attack on Dan Simmons, which is not at all how the NOTA campaign came about.

    All I have to say is that I think that while there are many legitimate critiques of the NOTA campaign–"why didn't people come forward before if this election was so important etc.," we have to think about who we want on StuCo. The question for me is less about the presidential race. The real issue is that there are four uncontested positions. They have not even (for the most part) bothered to really run or publicize legitimate campaigns…because they have no opposition. A number of these candidates, I echo what has been said, do not represent the interests of many students who are a part of NOTA and many others who are not. There is a choice for the presidential spot, but there is NO choice for the others. That cannot really be a democratic election.

    Yes you can argue that it is still democracy at work even if campus-wide civic disengagement fails to produce multiple candidates…but I am less committed to democratic procedure than to democratic representation and a functioning and good student council next semester. This may be an unfortunate, but necessary, time to reinvigorate the interest of the student body in Student Council.

    And again Political Science majors may argue that democracy cannot bypass its process if it wants to achieve its ends…but NOTA is a legitimate component of Swarthmore's democratic process, and I think that it is rightfully exercised. I DO wish that more candidates had entered initially after the deadline was extended so many times, but I also really want some better options for some of these positions. A campaign for NOTA may seem mean-spirited–indeed it may be–but it is necessary if we are to actually reopen this election (organizing a write-in is difficult and to me seems undemocratic because the candidate has little/no time to present a platform to the student body), and again I think it needs to be reopened because I really care about StuCo next year.

  46. Hi "A".

    Could you please forward the email you are writing of to jhui1? I have yet to read it and am very interested to see what it says.

    One quick point that I'd like to make: The students running unopposed were never given the opportunity to answer questions during the debate. Does anybody know why that is? I think that is something both supporters of NOTA as well as supporters of these candidates ought to consider.

  47. Dan, I cannot help but feel that perhaps you did not pay attention to my platform, or you are solely basing your arguments on my performance in the debate, which I will readily admit was subpar. I ask you to please keep in mind that the "debate" was a q&a session, and many of the questions were rather specific and YJ constrained answers to a 1.5 minute timeline, both of which prevented me from speaking more broadly about what I perceive to be good ideas for Student Council.

    So, I just want to take the time to go through a few of your points. Perhaps this is not politically expedient, but I am not a politician; I just love this school and feel that I can really make it better in a few ways.

    First, I want to make clear that I emphasized holding an open, agenda-setting forum at the start of each semester, rather than focusing on more specific goals for my potential presidency. Looking back, I realize this may have been unwise or unclear, especially since not everyone either (a) seems to really read the platforms carefully, or (b) believes candidates will fulfill their platforms.

    Second, I do not think it is entirely fair to say Council is failing to do these things, therefore the candidates are out of touch with the student body when neither of us has been given the chance to serve in a leadership position on Council.

    Third, I do more than participate in SAC, but do not feel that some of my other current and past extracurriculars directly relate to the position of president. A resume does not a platform make.

    Fourth, (from here on out, I'll quote from you and then respond) "*More student representation regarding issues of where budget cuts should be made when necessary."
    I believe I mention maintaining dialogue with Suzanne Welsh in my platform, and I think greater student representation is a good thing. I do not see how I would not allow it. The one problem, though, is that the administration may prefer to work solely with Council, which is not my personal choice/preference.

    Fifth, "*ANY student representation on the financial aid planning committee, which determines the measurement of Swarthmore's famous, always-100%-met "demonstrated need."
    I did not think of this, and I thank you for bringing it to my attention. I would love to discuss this in more depth with you, and promise to do as much as I can.

    Sixth, "*The rising cost of textbooks and encouraging departments to negotiate for lower prices and more current textbooks in the library."
    I believe the latter is especially implementable.

    Seventh, "*Better understanding Swarthmore's relationship with Chester and making sure grant money is spent according to the wishes of Chester communities."
    This is ultimately up to the Lang Center, not Student Council. SBC and Student Council do not handle grant money.

    Eighth, "*More direct interaction between the Board of Managers and student groups and individuals."
    I mention this in my platform and in the comment thread of my platform page, and I know I mentioned it during the debate. I want to change the current system of Student Council handpicking representatives for the limited-spaces of the luncheon, and instead have an open meeting.

    Ninth, "*Pursuing a more explicitly class-based recruitment campaign."
    I know you have a position as the student advisor (please pardon me if I do not use the correct wording) for the Office (or Dean? Jim Bock) of Admissions and Financial Aid. I think you are in an important position and hope you are pushing for this yourself. The fulfillment of such an agenda would definitely have to stem from a joint, longer-term effort.

    Tenth, "*More transparency of the budget to determine whether Swarthmore's "ethical intelligence" is something it uses when investing."
    That is the role of the Financial Policy Representative, so this proposal should be directed at that particular candidate.

    Eleventh, "*Being more open about options regarding the surplus student council budget and deciding with others how the huge sum should be spent."
    It is not surplus student council budget, but rather rollover money from SBC's allocated funds for student groups. And I do not see how the conversation has not been open — Student Council has kept students up-to-speed, and is currently awaiting a more exact estimate from Suzanne Welsh, who has not yet been able to provide detailed information. We expected it after the meeting on Tuesday, but we only learned during the meeting that the information would not be available until this Monday (April 20th).
    Moreover, I added onto my official platform in the comments thread on the Gazette that "working with SBC to make the budget more open and public" is very important, for "I think it is fair for students to know how the student activities fee is spent."

    I wish we had been able to talk sooner, but I did not know who spearheaded the none of the above campaign until very recently. I assume (given your strong views) that you have voted already, and I am not trying to change your mind to win your vote. I just want you to realize that our goals are not so different, and, if elected, I want to work with/ learn from you because (1) you do care a lot, and (2) you have several good points.

    I am very sorry if I made students believe I do not care enough about policies that affect us.

    If I did not care, I would have either not run at all, or withdrawn when I first learned that some students would rather vote for no one than vote for me, or would simply vote for me because they consider me the lesser of two evils.

    Thank you for your time.

  48. During the debate, there was supposed to be an opportunity for non-presidential candidates to vote. I have felt strongly about this since before I ran for council, as all SC members exercise one equal vote on council, and SC is and always must be a team effort.

    I had to leave early to attend my seminar that evening, and YJ never opened discussion to the other candidates. Perhaps he forgot? I am not sure. Nevertheless, there was supposed to be — and there should always be in the future — avenues for all SC candidates to make statements and field comments.

  49. Additionally, (to add to Rachel's comment above) SC did try to make the college budget more transparent, but the administration and board of managers flatly (if politely) refused. To make it more transparent would require them to only invest in low-return or medium-return options, which they were unwilling to do. SC hosted a fireside chat with Al Bloom and Sue Welsh on this issue last year.

    While the grant money is the purview of Lang, SC certainly could talk with Lang about this issue.
    The majority of your concerns are great and I see no reason why current or future councils would refuse to listen to them — I am, Rachel and Shaun are — so the necessity for a NOTA campaign because of these concerns seems a little silly.

  50. My issue with the NOTA campaign is as follows:

    It seems to me that those who want us all to vote NOTA have an obligation to provide more information about what would happen if NOTA defeats one of the candidates for one of the positions. If there is no one willing to step up and run again for this position, then we'll simply be in the same position we were in before, and we'll have to have a runoff during which the same candidate will run again and probably win.

    If there is someone else who is willing to step up and run in a second election, and who thinks that she or he or ze could do a better job than the current options, then why did this person not run in the first place? It seems that this person's candidacy would be based entirely on disliking the present choices, and that isn't an entirely convincing rationale for a candidacy. If there are serious issues that should be addressed, which a candidate thinks need to be in the campaign, why did this candidate not run in the initial election, when there was so much opportunity to do so?

    And furthermore, if candidates like this do exist, shouldn't they make themselves known before this election, so that we know that voting for NOTA isn't simply a means of prolonging the election process without offering any real alternative?

    I share many of the policy concerns expressed by supporters of the NOTA campaign, and I share frustration with the limited choices available to students. I also have no qualms with individual students voting NOTA, if they think that none of the choices represent their views; this seems especially defensible for the offices for which there is only one candidate. But the NOTA campaign as it is being run has not adequately addressed these concerns, and thus I find it difficult to consider the campaign as a viable option for broadening representation in student government.

  51. Something that the NOTA people should, perhaps, consider is that these elections aren't free. I worked for the SBC for three semesters and during that period learned that SBC pays for the election software, to the tune of several hundred dollars (I think it's either ~$800/per or ~$1500/per, but I can't remember exactly). So if the election has to be re-done, it means we spend a significant amount of money that could be going to students some other way.

  52. Having spoken to Nate Erskine, who is running the online elections and is necessarily neutral, he assured me that a new round of elections would be little hassle and affordable. Besides, the cost of running new elections is a pittance compared to the cost of our Phoenix mascot or this year's surplus budget. Remember that voting None of the Above is a perfectly legitimate part of the democratic process– even if it costs more than voting for 4 of 5 uncontested positions.
    I'm voting NOTA because the issues brought up are things I'd like to see spoken about in Student Council, and because I trust that NOTA will run candidates in a second round of elections. If not–what would be the real harm? We could vote for the same candidates a second time around, perhaps proving that NOTA are just a stubborn group of people not interested in running. But if the NOTA voters are right, perhaps we could open the agenda to a broader range of issues, a more competitive election in which all candidates have equal time to present their platforms, and a vastly improved direction for student government at Swarthmore.

  53. Oh, I'm sure it's affordable in that SBC will pay for it, and of course if the ballot has the NOTA option, people have the right to take it. I just thought the cost was something people should be apprised of.

  54. Though I don't have a problem with the Oota flyers nor the NOTA flyers I ask that the Oota group respect the IC space.

    On my way to the Enlace room this morning I found multiple flyers on the SAO, Enlace, and SQU room. I was also told that there were multiple flyers in the Enlace board in Parrish Hall. As has been said previously on this forum, the IC/BCC groups are not directly connected to the NOTA campaign, though there are members from the different groups involved.

    If you plan on putting more flyers up please have the decency to at least ask the respective leaders or respect the space that we have on campus.

    Thank You,

    Deivid Rojas'11
    Enlace Co-President.

  55. With the except of Dan's post on this site, I have yet to see concrete issues that NOTA has presented that the candidates haven't. Furthermore, I'm sure the candidates would speak of these issues if someone would just talk to them.

    I also have beef with NOTA's case that ALL of the candidates are unqualified. Take a random sample of ANY 5 Swarthmore students and I'm sure you'll find good people for StuCo jobs. It's just the way we are. Take a look at some other schools' elections. Sometimes I feel that Swarthmore students are too critical.

  56. My apologies Deivid.

    However, one of the goals of the OOTA group is to show students that NOTA is not the only viewpoint in the StuCo elections. Just as there are members of NOTA in SAO, Enlace, and SQU, there ARE members of these groups in OOTA.

    Because, there were already NUMEROUS NOTA flyers in the rooms of the IC center, we believed that we would be allowed to put flyers up also, to present our own side of the argument.

    Deivid, the point has been made that the IC/BCC groups are not directly connected to the NOTA campaign. Then why aren't OOTA flyers allowed in the same places that NOTA flyers are? We made an effort to ONLY put flyers up where flyers of the opposing viewpoint had also been put up. And members of OOTA were STRICTLY told not to take ANY NOTA flyers down.

    May I ask then, what steps the NOTA group took to get permission to put their flyers up on Enlace's door?

    Thanks for your help!

  57. Oota Supporter,

    Enlace members that are involved in the NOTA campaign solicited permission.

    If there any Enlace members in the Oota campaign, then they are allowed to post flyers since it is also their space. All they have to do is ask.


    Deivid Rojas'11
    Enlace Co-President

  58. Deivid,
    In that case, I hope you will accept my sincere apology for the posting of the flyers on Enlace's door. I hope you will excuse my anonymity for fear of backlash from friends, but it was my fault alone. I truly hope that Enlace, as a group, will forgive the flyers.

    Please also understand that we were not trying to target the IC groups, as I am in fact a part of one of them. Once again, my sincere apologies.

  59. I'm going to start my own movement called STITS (stop taking it too seriously). The mission is to be both anti-NOTA and anti-OOTA.

    Anyone is free to join. That is all.

  60. Reading all of this makes me sad for the school I graduated from, and I'm quite glad I'm not there at this moment.

  61. If all of you BCC and IC are so upset about this why didn't any of you run?

    Be proactive instead of reactive. You are protesting something that you could have taken care of by having your own candidates.

    I agree with you M I'm ashamed to have been associated with this school. I almost don't want to donate money anymore.

  62. Oreoismynamerhymingismygame,

    I completely agree with your sentiments. It is absurd to think that lazy people can commit such an egregious act and complain to something they had control over.

    Honestly, if you want them to know your concerns let them into your meetings or talk to them instead of Ass-U-ME-ing they know what you are talking about.

    Can't we all get along.

    P.S. Did anyone see that rainbow the other day.

  63. Oreo, Rainbow,
    To begin yes I saw the rainbow and yes it was truly stunning. Too bad there was no unicorn haha no pun intended.

    But yes, I agree if they are complaining so much why didn't they just have one of their members run. You can't just assume that the candidates will suit your needs. Take action and spend a couple of hours writing a speech and not watching T.V.

    -Concerned Student

  64. Oreo, Rainbow, Reese's,
    I agree with your concerns, yet it behooves me to inform you that you are not discussing the problem at hand. The candidates clearly are clueless about the concerns(Yes that is alliteration) of some of the groups on campus. Thus, we must find a solution that ubiquitously influences the whole campus.

  65. I'm sure either candidate will be suitable for the position.
    The nascent presidential candidate will surely fulfill their mission.
    I have no doubt.
    That they will responsibly use their clout.
    Cuz they both have good intentions.
    Even though this forum has a lot of tensions.
    Good luck to them both.
    Remember they have to take an oath.
    So no one should worry.
    But, I'm in a hurry.
    So goodnight to all.
    And no my name ain't Paul.

    Top that Oreo.

  66. I'm sure either candidate will be suitable for the position.
    The nascent presidential candidate will surely fulfill their mission.
    I have no doubt.
    That they will responsibly use their clout.
    Cuz they both have good intentions.
    Even though this forum has a lot of tensions.
    Good luck to them both.
    Remember they have to take an oath.
    So no one should worry.
    But, I'm in a hurry.
    So goodnight to all.
    And no my name ain't Paul.

    Top that Oreo.

  67. Also, Oreo, you're posting from the Swarthmore network (see that little indicator next to your name?), so the most parsimonious and likely explanation is that you're a student, and not one of the dozen-or-so alums in the area (nevermind alums who are financially sound enough to even consider donating back to the college) or the handful of alumni professors.

    Make your point, but don't feign credibility through a probably-fake status.

  68. The elections at Swarthmore are sad.
    The candidates both are bad.
    We want none of the above.
    Why can't you give us love.
    You're bitching is making us mad.

    Stop telling us to say no more.
    You're rhyming is quite a bore.
    We don't want no fame.
    If we did, we'd leave our names.
    StuCo elections all are sore.

  69. I don't appreciate identity theft
    Cuz my rhymes are so deft
    I don't care who wins the election
    Cuz I know my rhymes are given you an erection
    These arguments are so dumb
    and I enjoy eating plumbs
    So I'm off to bed
    cuz your dignity is hangin by a thread

    And P.S. I don't even like Peanuts

  70. I didn't steal your idenity.
    Your name has an extra "e".
    Stop placing the blame.
    You're rhynming's more lame.
    And… yeah I need to go pee.

  71. There once were two Swat candidates,
    whose platforms most thought were first rate,
    But the activists cried.
    "Vote NOTA!" they tried,
    but their whines did not win the debate.

  72. @olde skool
    Wow, it took me so long to figure out you were trying to rhyme candidates with words that rhyme with 8. I was like, wha? Is this supposed to be a limerick? I like your message the best but it reads terribly out loud, sorry. This comments thread has gotten awesome, by the way.

  73. What bothers me is the insistence that being part of ICC/BCC groups is the most legitimate form of involvement on campus, and that if a candidate is not involved in one of these groups, they must be out of touch with the student body, or unwilling or unable to listen to the concerns of students. In my opinion, running for student council president shows a greater commitment to addressing the needs of students than being part of any specific cultural group. We can talk about general apathy on campus and the fact that only two people cared enough to run for president, but Rachel and Shaun were these two people.
    BCC/ICC groups generally address the concerns of a specific demographic of students and take up specific causes. I think this type of involvement is great, and certainly necessary for effecting change. But perhaps Rachel and Shaun feel that they will be in a greater position to changing school policies in ways that reflect the collective vision of students by running for president of the student council.

  74. @ Peter '11
    What can I say? I'm an econ major and the poem was a first draft, a WA copy. Feel free to revise and resubmit.

  75. To vote NOTA isn't smart.
    The world can then fall apart.
    Be smart like the Buddha.
    And Vote for OOTA.
    Your actions will show you have heart.

  76. After reading all 86 posts, I have to say that I agree with #24. The Gazette is supposed to be a venue for the Swarthmore community to voice their concerns and have a genuine, respectful dialogue. I understand that we are all passionate people, but we should be able to channel those feelings into an intelligent, constructive debate. Doing anything less undermines the values of openness, acceptance and education that I'd like to believe Swarthmore stands for. There should be a forum for people who would rather be able to express their ideas in a more slanted and impromptu way, but this is not it.

    As for the StuCo presidential election, one of my issues with NOTA is the idea that any new candidates who arise, if NOTA wins, would be more devoted to their duties as President than the current candidates. It seems to me that prospective SC Presidents should be so motivated and eager to serve that they await the campaign and submit their bids before the deadline. At this point, new candidates would be running only because they were displeased with the current candidates and thought they could do better. Rachel and Shaun, however, have taken the initiative to run for office because they had the foresight to know that they truly want to be President, no matter the situation.

  77. "One of the above", it means.
    An opposition to NOTA, it seems.
    So in the next hour,
    use your voting power,
    and pick the bestest team!

    actually voting might be over by now i'm not sure…:/

  78. There are many people in this world who speak in verse when they patently should not. The above person is an example of such.

    Vote Willets Cat for everything.

  79. Who else is glad, that this election is over? Hopefully, we won't have to deal with another NOTA campaign anytime soon.

  80. @ Order of the Phoenix

    Maybe we won't have to deal with another NOTA campaign when people at this school finally stand up and try to educate themselves about structural oppression.

  81. Yay now we can stop talking about this! While I confess this clusterf*ck of a comment board has been a source of amusement the past few days, I ought to be doing something more productive than reading it. Phew. The temptation is gone.

  82. @ This School is Crazy

    Only at Swarthmore would some students expect student council to find a solution to structural oppression.

  83. @This School is Crazy
    Or you could just educate yourself about how to apply before the deadline? Bam! No longer structurally oppressed. Yay, democracy! (?)

    Not to say that structural oppression doesn't exist. Certainly it does. And you make a mockery of it by comparing it to the absurdly open process of silly student council elections. Don't you not even have to get any signatures or ANYTHING? If you'd like to enumerate your points instead of just whining, feel free and I will respond. I'll already say that arguing that some students are "oppressively" too busy is invalid, because ALL students at Swarthmore are this way. Additionally, really any arguments about the ability to fulfill the position (e.g. free time) are pretty much invalid, since NOTA claims that they had candidates willing to run and fill the positions, so it's not impossible. Thus, any structural oppression must lie in the impossibility for these students to send an email to declare their bids before the deadline, no?

    Let's have a real discussion instead of just whining about people refusing to educate themselves about structural oppression. I'm always open to education. Let's talk. And don't say I'm being rude or find some other way to deflect a real exchange of ideas. That's cheap.

  84. Oh, I don't know, M. As an alum, it's reassuring to see that Swarthmore students are still argumentative, skilled in critical reasoning, and determined to make something unimportant (student government) seem important.

    More power to them.

  85. If the IC community did not want to be directly related to NOTA, then why put NOTA flyers on their doors and bulletin boards?

  86. C– If student government failed to exist, no student events would happen on this campus, and between a third and a half of paid student jobs would disappear. It's easy to take things for granted when you're never without them.

  87. The ICC/BCC community should run a candidate for president. If they were qualified they'd probably win and be able to represent the community directly.

  88. Swattie '09, being president of student council is an undesirable position: a lot of work for no money. It would be very difficult to do work study and be on StuCo. Overall, the situation sucks and it's a shame it came to this.

  89. Seth, are you trying to imply that ICC/BCC students can not run for president because they are on work study? I think this is a ridiculous notion. Our current Council President, Yongjun is an excellent member of both Student Council and SAO, just to name a few of his numerous extracurricular activities. Everyone at Swarthmore is busy, and I believe I speak for MOST members of IC groups in that we feel that the argument that we are too busy to serve on StuCo is an unfair stigmatization. Looking at our current council, I feel that the IC has enough representation on council already. If other members of IC groups feel that they aren't getting the representation they need, they should talk to the students who are a part of the IC as well as StuCo.

  90. Sorry, anonymous; I didn't mean to try to speak for you or to imply that ICC/BC members don't make great StuCo members. What I'm trying to get at is that one of the reasons that so few people run for StuCo is because it's hard to balance with everything else. Certainly YJ is a great example of managing a lot of things at once. But not everyone has such good time management so we get in a situation where people don't feel adequately represented by the candidates but there's a huge disincentive for other candidates to enter the race, namely, that the job isn't desirable. I'm not sure what would make things better.

  91. Apology accepted. It seemed as if you were responding to Swattie '09's comment on the IC/BCC community. I see what you mean. I don't know if StuCo president is really an undesireable position though. I think a lot of people don't run because they don't believe they would win or do a good job.

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