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.
As the Facebook “You Know You Go To Swarthmore When…” page so eloquently puts it, the knowledge that a day has, in fact, 28 hours, entitles a Swattie to make such delightful comments as “Oh, but it’s only 3 AM!” Upholding the tradition of my Swarthmore predecessors (and honoring the recently released Harry Potter movie and the Swarthmore delegation sent to cement our allegiance), I am currently bent over my keyboard, whispering to myself and moving my fingers chaotically, casting that mysterious, yet ever so necessary and well-known to Swatties 3 AM spell entitled “Applying”. Now on to the technicalities: location: Mertz 1st. Laptop: HP Pavilion DV 2700. Subversive goal # 1: presenting my platform for the StuCo Vice-President position. Subversive goal # 2: proving that the bell tower clock actually skips two 15 minutes ping-pangs between 3:30 and 4:00 AM (a personal theory).
Who am I? Just your average overly-stressed international junior, puffy-eyed McCabe co-studier and eternally militant “worthwhile” person, er, Swattie. For practical purposes, all that has come to be represented by the name Adriana Popa. Some of you will know me from my poster-sticking and activity organizing connected to my I20 PR Officer position, others might recall my Swarthmore STAND T-shirt logo flashing by as I ran to one meeting or another, and a few of you might have been fortunate enough to get enlightened, er, tutored in one (of an unnecessary number of) languages I happen to speak. If you were ever in the Events Office or happened to take part in a College-planned event, know that you will have indirectly honored my work as a Student Intern in the above mentioned office and made all the planning, presenting and meetings with College officials and Alums worthwhile (well, okay, I also got some cookies in the process, but that’s beside the point). Those of you belonging to groups bursting into a tiny room in Upper Tarble or in Room 4 in Sharples in desperate search of funding, reimbursement or just free candy might remember me as the SBC Assistant Manager, role I fulfilled for one memorable year. And those of you who liked last year’s Halcyon, I’m glad I can take at least some credit for that as Halcyon Design Assistant (tokens of appreciation in the form of muffins, bunny slippers and pink balloons are welcome. Mailbox: 393). As for all you little freshmen, before you accuse me of a condescending tone, know that I probably answered some of your admission-related queries as an Admissions Student Intern and even helped you get “Swattified” as an Orientation Leader. And dear Phoenix, thank you for printing my platform, but I guess it’s a typical quid-pro-quo, given that I spent my freshman fall writing for the Living and Arts Section (sorry, Gazette, maybe in the future :).
In case the above rant doesn’t make it obvious enough, there are few activities I haven’t been involved with at Swat, in one way or another, and few people I haven’t interacted with, from both the student body and the College administration. Performing the tasks associated with these positions (I don’t like the word duties, it reminds me of having to clean my room and water my cactus when I was about 7…thus of limited personal freedom, authoritarian parental tendencies and…quick, quick, get the word hegemony in here or they’ll think you’re not a Swattie…well, maybe later…) has equipped me with a strong set of skills that I feel would be beneficial in my role as Student Council Vice-President and has given me the visibility and outreach I believe the position requires for maximum efficiency.
Several issues have been brought to my attention through my discussions with students and through my own experience as a Swattie, and I consider all of them high up on my priority list. As the austerity program meant to protect Swarthmore from the effects of the economic crisis follows its curse, I mean course, we, as students, are forced to cope with sometimes unexpected and frustrating changes, ranging from small things such as the College’s decision not to distribute planners this year (and apparently, next year either) – which, if you’re a planning-obsessed person like me, caused at least a “Nooooooooooo!” or some tears by your empty mailbox – to more serious measures like the downsizing of some group, activity and even class budgets – an example would be Aerobics, which was to be offered only half of the semester, to reduce costs. Together with a few students, I presented a funding proposal to SBC (after having first contacted the Athletics Department, the Dean’s Office and any other resource we could think of to try to change the College’s decision on the matter) and chartered an Aerobics Club, all to keep the class as it has been since its introduction. While this problem found a quick and satisfying solution, my aim as a Vice-President is to ensure this kind of situations are avoided, that the voice of students is heard before any decision impacting their courses of choice, their activities or life at Swat and that the Administration recognizes our input as a prerequisite, not an optional element in the choice and implementation of any future measures.
Other priorities on my list are enhancing the Class Rec Book (perhaps transforming it into an online forum, with discussion threads, a clear set of parameters to be addressed and ranked when submitting a comment/review and a more active input from the student body) – I know I used to use it a lot my freshman year (and it proved an extremely useful tool) and I have been disappointed with what I perceive as a decrease in quality or at least in efficiency. In addition, I would like to further StuCo’s efforts in matching the dining options with student needs, especially regarding operating hours and menu diversity (many students have expressed their wishes that the Snack Bars stay open and allow meal-use until later hours and that more varied culinary options are presented). I also believe there is a need for some of the great Swarthmore programs, such as the Bike Share, to be better advertised and information about them made easily available to students (perhaps through quick-links on the Swarthmore website). Two other important priorities include centralizing the book offer (for both sale and purchase/rent) resources, perhaps into one common online group/website that allows for easy comparing and contacting, and the housing offer – since especially international students must often look for winter or summer housing options on their own and there seem to be few resources available to them (the resources may exist, but are not well publicized). I believe the entire student population would benefit from a common, online, well-administered forum where housing offers, requests, contacts and College regulations/offers could be hosted (perhaps as a part of Swarthmore’s own housing website, although it might be more helpful if the resource it extended to the Tri-Co Network).
If you have managed to read this far, I sincerely congratulate you! If you haven’t, you’re not a Swattie 🙂 (after all, only here can you hear something like “Did you do the reading for today? – Oh yeah, it was only a few sentences. – What?! It went from page 242 to page 244! – Sorry, did I say sentences again? I meant paragraphs!”)
I’ll end with # 22 on the “You Know You Go To Swarthmore When” list: “You’re passionate about furthering worthwhile causes…and you take action!” Well, I personally haven’t been able to find more worthwhile causes than the well-being and happiness of Swarthmore students, and I am dedicated to ensuring these desiderata (well, I didn’t use hegemony, but I think desiderata makes up for it quite nicely 🙂 are met. I feel privileged to find myself among Swatties 24/7 and I would be honored to represent you as Student Council Vice-President!