Financial Policy Representative, Harshil Sahai ’15

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.


Ah, a bit of  cheesy reverse psychology to brighten your day. By this point you have successfully succumbed to my trap, but have still yet to figure out why exactly I would be a good candidate for a Financial Policy Representative. Well, eager Swattie, I believe financial policy is more about allocating resources to the right institutions than strictly gathering the most resources we can. You and I both know how much dough we have here at Swat, but don’t you still feel that XYZ could use some improvements?

One important reasoning behind Swarthmore’s large endowment is the fact that, regardless of the economic state of the country, Swarthmore must continue to provide the same standard and reputation of education, living, and activities. Yes, academics are first, but what we do outside our classes is as important. Swarthmore is a college that prides itself in diversity, both in demographics as well as activities. As a Financial Policy Representative, I will make it my duty to advocate every facet of Swarthmore’s community, from cultural organizations and academic clubs to art and sports programs – and with a $50K investment, you deserve it.

But the little things besides organization funding tend to bug us the most. Have you seen the pool and ping pong tables at Tarble recently? What a mess. And who wouldn’t mind a bigger gym? Renovated music practice rooms? Art studios? AC in dorms other than AP and DK? Playable squash courts? Segways? Or even extended meal hours and dining options for Essie Maes and Sharples? God knows we need some REAL food around here…

In any case, all these improvements, whether for sports, art, music, dance, academics, or housing, require a piece of the big pie that is Swarthmore’s wallet. Being the treasurer of my school to managing the finances of four clubs, I feel fit to be your Financial Policy Representative. Regardless of whether such major improvements are made, what is more important is the fact that they are communicated – that such requests are at the least considered; that us, as students, have a say in where OUR money goes. I will proudly be your direct connection from the Swarthmore student body to the College Budget Committee (CBC), relaying your needs, concerns, and desires. As a finance and statistics nerd in the greatest sense, I will develop surveys and polls to gather YOUR opinions at a regular basis, and will forward such information to the CBC. Together we shall transform a college that has a few, nerve-wracking annoyances to a diverse, multifaceted community that has next to none.

Vote Harshil Sahai 2015 for your Financial Policy Representative. Over and out.


  1. are you serious? people here are such assholes. this was a great platform. these comments make you two sound like you have nothing better to do than make other people feel awful about themselves. thanks for confirming our spot on america’s list of 50 most douchiest schools, assface.

  2. oh wow. it sure sounds like you two are trying to boost our already impressive rankings on america’s list of 50 most douchiest colleges. try being a little less pretentious for a change? harshil, great platform! i definitely agree with your idea of increasing dining hours.

  3. J is an asshole, c, you guys are the same person. And also, wrong. Seriously, Harshil, you’re going for both too much stuff AND the wrong stuff.

    First, you’re telling all of us folks who have been on campus for more than three weeks that we’ve been screwing things up for 1-3 years. That’s downright rude.

    Second, we can’t actually spend all that much money. I’d think if you actually had any financial sense, you’d realize that we’ve lost a tremendous amount of money in this recession. And the more we save in our endowment, the more interest it gets that we CAN spend. BAM! Financial know-how.

    Finally, you’re an advisor. You can’t effect change on your own, so you’ll have to work with other people. And you’ll have to get your facts straight (how AP/DK ac works, what students actually want, etc) before you can convince anyone to get anything done.

    Honestly, I wasn’t going to bother saying anything, because I didn’t want to be rude. But then I realized our student body actually is kind of apathetic, and you might get elected by accident. So, just as people like you can jump in all nimbly-pimbly like and shift the opinions of the ten voters required to win an election, I decided to jump in and shift those opinions right back.

    No hard feelings? Just do a bit more research next time.

    PS Chocolate milk fountains plz!!!!

    • Bob,
      In response to your statement about “financial know-how,” I have a few opinions of my own.

      Again, the aim of those complaints was not to go all-out on spending, and sap our resources completely. Simply putting concerns in the air of the meeting to be considered, alongside more imperative ones is the goal. Funding for SBC, for example, would take precedence over building a larger gym, but this is precisely why I want to raise the concern: because these potential improvements are often overlooked by a larger requirement. In the end, having the committee starting to think about these issues is what really matters.

      Secondly, I feel that spending should not be held back simply at the opportunity of annual accrual of interest. A generous interest rate of about %2, compounded annually would yield payments of very low significance — especially over the span of a student’s college education (4 years). Thus, refusing to spend now would not equate to having a much larger freedom of spending in four years. In other words, the benefit is not worth delaying the cost.

      In the most general sense I agree with your argument. Be smart about your spending. Obviously, I will be cautious in what I advise to the committee, taking into account the limited assets of our college. On the same hand, students are paying the same amount they payed pre-recession. Thus, we should strive to give them the same quality of education and living as Swarthmore students had pre-recession (being mindful of our budget).

      On a separate note, I admit to have extrapolated outside my domain. I had only heard rumors about AP and DK and had assumed the worst!

      And yes, chocolate milk fountains will be mentioned at one of the CBC meetings, I promise.


  4. In response to some of the negative comments posted above, I will not call you out on being an “asshole” or an “assface” or even a “douche”. But I do want to clear up some misconceptions that some of you might have perceived:
    1. The intention of my platform was not to hate on my school or bash it in any way. If that was my intention I would not be running for StuCo in the first place, or even attending Swarthmore, for that matter. I feel we should accept that our school (or any entity), no matter how perfect it is, can always use improvements to make Students more satisfied and happy with where their money goes. The relentless pursuit of improvement is what leads to real, lasting change and innovation.
    2. The idea that the issues in my platforms are what I promise is incorrect. I will not promise that such issues will be rectified, but what I do promise is that the administration as well as the CBC will hear these concerns; that they will not be shut down without a fight. At every meeting, regardless of how much praise the committee will receive, there will always be at least one suggestion that might make things nicer, easier, safer, more convenient, or better for our community.

    Hesitation to vouch for improvements just because one feels their school is “perfect” seems foolish to me, rather than disloyal. In fact, wouldn’t someone who fights to make their school even better be more loyal?

    On a side note, I am a strong proponent of perception being a part of reality. Regardless of how I actually feel, what matters is how the community views me and my platform. But, at the same time, I do not want to be thought of as someone who I am not, so think of this more as clarification than a way of covering up.

    Finally, I am not someone who is easily insulted, by any means. I feel that brutal honestly is the only way one can be improved. As such, feel free to attack me with your truest feelings, whether or not they may be “douchey”. I see this as another opportunity to show myself to Swarthmore, rather than an attack on my personal character. In all honesty, I am a freshman running amongst upperclassman; it would be absurd of me to not expect a thorough criticism of my beliefs!

    Looking forward to meeting you all at the Q&A Session,

  5. “Have you seen the pool and ping pong tables at Tarble recently? What a mess. And who wouldn’t mind a bigger gym? Renovated music practice rooms? Art studios? AC in dorms other than AP and DK? Playable squash courts? Segways? Or even extended meal hours and dining options for Essie Maes and Sharples? God knows we need some REAL food around here…”

    Harshil, when I was your age I felt exactly like you. But you know where a lot of the money that could be spent on this stuff is going? Financial Aid. Sure, a few of us want better game tables, and God knows that I would actually work out if we put some TVs in our equipment room and yes the food is pretty terrible.

    But the money that isn’t going to these causes may be spent to pay to pay for an economically challenged kid’s books, a flight to Swarthmore from a third-world country for another kid, or maybe the food of a student who only knew hunger before he came to Swarthmore. Maybe you could gain from a better pool stick or something. But buy it yourself. I’d rather spend our money on things the book, or the food, or the plane ticket, because the conversations and learning I can get from these Swatties are invaluable.

    When you think of what our school is about, and the good things the money is being spent on, suggesting things like Segways and chocolate milk fountains seems a bit petty, no?

    • Huzilla,

      First and foremost I would like to point out that I agree with all of your points. Financial Aid is an integral part of this institution, and recently, has been not up to par with Swarthmore standards. I have heard numerous complaints, or agitations rather, with the department; due to the recession we have been less lax with giving aid — especially to international students. Many students that would otherwise receive grants, would need to rely on Stafford Loans. Another concern that I have observed is that students who are awarded outside scholarships can only use the scholarship money against their aid package. I.e. their financial aid is cut as a result of their scholarship. This raises concerns regarding the incentive to attain such scholarships if they are simply taken away from financial aid rather than added to it. However, Swarthmore’s quality of financial aid is still top-tier, yet any improvements can and should be made.

      Clearly, the Financial Aid program would take precedence over minor improvements in convenience and luxury. Please do not think that I do not understand or acknowledge the issue we are having recently regarding financial aid. Unfortunately, I had assumed that Swarthmore would understand this, and thus, had not made it clear on my platform. For that I apologize. But, in any case, the improvements that were mentioned are only going to be considered after financial aid, student groups, and etc — but, that’s not to say that they won’t be voiced.

      Finally, this is almost embarrassing to have to clarify, but both the Segway and Chocolate Milk fountain suggestions were simply jokes. Take them with a grain of salt.


      • The chocolate milk and segway comments may have been jokes, but they were about as ridiculous in my eyes as some of your other campaign pledges.

        “Many students that would otherwise receive grants, would need to rely on Stafford Loans. Another concern that I have observed is that students who are awarded outside scholarships can only use the scholarship money against their aid package. I.e. their financial aid is cut as a result of their scholarship. This raises concerns regarding the incentive to attain such scholarships if they are simply taken away from financial aid rather than added to it. However, Swarthmore’s quality of financial aid is still top-tier, yet any improvements can and should be made.”

        ^I feel that this is the most important, and best idea you’ve said here. If you made this the focus of you campaign, there’s no way others would have been as critical of you as I have. Why was this kind of stuff not included in your platform?

    • “Btw, the cost to educate a Swarthmore student is about $100,000. You’re paying $50,000? You don’t deserve shit.”

      Dear Huzilla,

      That’s an extremely ignorant statement coming from a person who just explained how important financial aid is and how tuition helps pay for “the food of a student who only knew hunger before he came to Swarthmore.” I’m sorry that $50,000 means nothing to you and that other students like me ‘don’t deserve shit.”

      Full-Tuition Paying Student

      • My comment was for the sense of entitlement some people have here. The type of people who complain about the crappy food here without realizing the bigger purpose.

        Great “you” pay $50,000. How much of that $50,000 did YOU actually earn?

        You’re lucky to be here. Just like the people who’s parents can’t afford a dime for the kids’ education.

        Yes, you don’t deserve shit.

        • Huzilla is right. This sense of “entitlement” at Swarthmore and in the world in general must come to an end.

          We are all lucky to be here. When I think about the thousands of children in the world that are unable to get or afford a college education, I can’t complain, and I won’t complain.

          I can’t complain and I won’t complain. That, I will not do.

        • I don’t deserve shit? If I’m paying $50k/year then I should be getting $50k worth. And I’ll complain if I feel like I’m not. It’s SIMPLE.

          Lucky to be here? Here’s news for you: most of us at swat had many great choices besides swat. We picked it because of whatever marginal benefit and we did so contingent on a few assumptions and expectations. The college you go to is NOT some magical place. You do NOT have to love it unconditionally.

          Just like the people whose parents can’t afford a dime? If you think the difference between $50k and $0k is trivial, how about we get rid of tuition altogether and see how that goes? 50% of students remain full-pay, year after year after year, despite the college being need blind. Hmmm… get it?

          Swarthhmore is not fairyland. Swarthmore is not a charity. You need to grow up.

          • Once again, you’re “paying” 50k for a 100k education. Even if your education was only worth 50k, xxxi, how much of that $50,000 are YOU paying? What did YOU do to even deserve a college education?

            i’m all down for making this college better. we have an obligation to those who will come after us to do so, just like the people before us did for us. i’m just of the opinion that there are far more important things to worry about that, complaining about the food and campaigning for chocolate milk fountains is absurd to the point that one can’t possibly win if they include that in their campaign platform.

            try to be more respectful of the opportunities given to you. that, i think, is a better definition of “growing up”.

          • To Huzilla:

            (1) I don’t like the implication you’re making that people have no ownership over money they did not personally earn. Yes, my tuition money is money my family provided me. But that does not mean someone else has as much right to it as I do. Because, again, it’s money my family provided to ME. Did you buy all your own clothes and personal possessions? No? Well do you feel entitled to keep them or to do with them as you please, and would you feel cheated if a third party intruded and either stole or cheated you of them? Yes you would… so stop with this absurd line of reasoning.

            Related to this point, it should be noted that Swarthmore’s financial need determination is based firmly on the concept of your family’s money essentially being your money. This is because when they calculate YOUR ability to pay, they are really calculating your FAMILY’s ability to pay, with the presumption that your finances are intertwined. So, again, stop with your bland and unsophisticated moralizing. It pains me to write so much on such an obvious point, but based on your reply I honestly think I have to.

            (2) I’ll say this again: If I feel like I’m not getting $50k’s worth for my $50k, then I will complain. -This is regardless of how much the thing I’m getting actually costs. I do not care if it actually costs $100k or $1million.-

            Why? If I could get the same thing or similar for much less cost elsewhere, then I’m not getting my $50k’s worth. Someone deciding whether or not to come to swat does not make his/her decision by picking the one with the highest per-student expenditure and calling that getting the best “value”: that would be really dumb. He/she makes the decision based on what the school substantively offers, relative to the prices and offerings of that person’s other choices. This is how prices, and value, are determined in the real world, and it really is THAT SIMPLE.

            (3) So you chose not to defend your assertion that the difference between paying $50k and paying $0 is trivial. Nice. I’ll let others have fun with this one, and the obnoxious attitude that underlies it.

            (4) Let’s talk about entitlement and privilege and respecting one’s opportunities.

            I don’t know where Swarthmore ranks against all other schools, but I’m going to assume its per-student expenditure is up there with the “best.” So that means you attend not only one of the most expensive colleges in the US, but also one that costs a hell of a lot of money for each student to be there.

            Why might this be? Economies of scale, my friend. YOU chose to attend a small liberal arts college that is inherently inefficient in its use of resources. Why else? Low student/faculty ratio, my friend. YOU chose to attend a college famous for student-professor interactions and to be immersed in that kind of intellectual environment. Why else again? The school caters to students’ every academic need, pal. Yes, YOU chose to be coddled like a child.

            How many schools have a beautiful campus like this one while maintaining a small size in order to promote a sense of community? Very few. How many get away with not diluting their academic reputation by earning extra money hosting dumbed-down summer courses? How many can afford not to hire and use a small army of adjuncts and grad students to teach the intro courses? Again not many. How many schools provide alcohol for basically any party, provide funding for any feasible student activity, and has loads left over for the whims of the student body? Take a guess.

            Let me say it again: YOU chose all this. YOU endorse this kind of lifestyle. YOU, by applying and enrolling and attending, perpetuate the enormous money-sink that is Swarthmore.

            Let me say it another way: every aspect of your college existence -REEKS- of privilege and elitism and, yes, excess and waste.

            Rest assured, Huzilla, that upon leaving swarthmore you will have consumed enough resources to have kept a small family fed and sheltered for well longer than your duration here. And you ate up that money – whether yours or provided through financial aid – when you could have gone to a NORMAL college that would provide roughly similar education. BUt no, you absolutely needed your low student-faculty ratio. Your tight-knit, small, quaker community. You NEEDED contact with smart students to be brought from all over the world.

            I’m not defending any particular proposal that Harshil might or might not be proposing, but so what if he thinks the campus would be better with a chocolate milk fountain? Take a step back and realize that you, Huzilla, are committing hypocrisy on a massive scale.

          • “I’ll say this again: If I feel like I’m not getting $50k’s worth for my $50k, then I will complain. -This is regardless of how much the thing I’m getting actually costs. I do not care if it actually costs $100k or $1million.”

            So what about Swarthmore that makes you feel like you’re not getting your money’s worth? Did Swarthmore “trick” you to coming here, when you could have gotten a better “deal” elsewhere? If you aren’t getting your money’s worth, why are you here? If you are capable of spending the 50k, what factors are making you stay?

            It’s true that we are all extremely privileged to be here at Swarthmore. I’m not sure where my hypocrisy is though. I acknowledge my priledge and hope to use it for the better of society. I want to give back. You seem to only care about getting the “best that you can get” here. You seem to expect people to thank you, for paying more? The difference between 50k and 0 is a lot of money; do you want me to kiss your ass for paying more than me?

            xxxi, I don’t have time to comment on the DG boards as much as I want to. Would you like to meet up sometime for coffee and discuss?

        • Am I suppose to be sorry that I (and other kids in the similar situation) depend on my parents to pay for a majority of my tuition? I’m grateful for attending this school and I don’t need to be told to be enterally grateful to Swat by some ignorant kid who obviously has no sense of how much money s/he is throwing around.

          Since you obviously cannot follow that I am saying, let me reiterate: Do not make ignorant bullshit statements like that.

          You’re just as bad as the “entitled” kids. Swarthmore is great, has some faults, whatever. Everything has faults, though most of Swarthmore faults aren’t serious in the big picture and like you said we live with out. Ok? Good. So hop off your high horse.

          • Y, I’m merely responding to people who feel that they’re not getting their “money’s worth” for 50k. Are you suggesting I don’t know how much money a Swat education costs? Do you?

            Specifically, I was responding to people w/ comments such as these:

            “I don’t deserve shit? If I’m paying $50k/year then I should be getting $50k worth. And I’ll complain if I feel like I’m not. It’s SIMPLE.”

            There seems to be an ignorant belief that a Swat education is not worth $50k a year.

            I’m pretty much done with this conversation, but if you want to talk about this off the DG, I’m down for it. I’ve looked at your comments and I’m not really sure where your beef is at, you seem to just have issue w/ some of the things I’ve said, and I have no idea why. Feel free to contact me if you’d like.

        • Btw, the cost to educate a Swarthmore student is about $100,000. You’re paying less than $50,000? You DEFINITELY don’t deserve shit.

    • Huzilla, is it $100,000 per year to educate one student or is that the cost of one’s entire college career? Where did you get this figure?

  6. Don’t listen to these guys Harshil. If you can promise me and three of my buddies our personal segways. I can guarantee you this election. But seriously, why stop there? You make that a Harley and I’ll take you straight to the presidency young fella.

  7. If you throw on better toilet paper, you got my vote!

    Also, I love how Harshil was able to begin a discussion about what we need and how receptive he has been to our comments, it shows that he will be receptive to our wants as a stuco member.

  8. I’m sorry. Just no. You have been on this campus for barely a month. There are A LOT of things about Swarthmore that you don’t know about. Learn about them during your freshmen year and try again next election.

    As of right now, your platform is not focused, not concerned with what Swarthmore is supposed to be about, and downright childish.

    You will find in your 4 years here that there is little room for unrefined, hastily formed ideas.

    Although I praise you for attempting to run, try again next time.

    -A Senior

  9. Dude, there are people in the world, in life, in society, that can’t get an education. There are people who die before they even get to college.

    And news flash. You’re not paying 50K to party.

    Let me say that again: you’re not paying 50 K to party.

    You’re paying 50K to get an education. And Swarthmore does a really excellent job at that. Complaining about trivial things such as not being able to party after midnight on weeknights is just pitiful. Just party on the weekends and deal with it.

    Life is not all about me, you, and others? Ok? We don’t “deserve” anything. You are the one that needs to get over yourself, because you aren’t that special. I’m sorry if that’s painful to swallow, but it’s the truth, and it applies to everyone, whether they like it or not.

    So, don’t complain over stupid matters such as these. Complain over inequality, poverty, hunger, world diseases…Complain over hardship, depression, and death, but don’t complain over not being able to party after 12 AM on weeknights. That’s not what Swarthmore is about.

  10. The freshman thinks he can change something at Swarthmore. This is cute. Don’t try, kid, don’t try. Just take what you can from this place and leave it.

    • The entrenched economic interests here benefit from the status quo. Advocating for any financial reform is like banging your head against the wall. Repeatedly.

      Economics teaches you what should be done. Political science teaches you what actually happens.

  11. Harshil, I admire your ability to reasonably respond to some of the nastier responses to your platform. People can disagree over platforms/humor/ping-pong table policy without hurling mud. Browbeating a freshman who wants to get involved (and recognizes the heft of the Swarthmore price tag) is just not what Swat’s about, and I hope you realize this.

    Huzilla, you have no idea the financial situations of others at this school, nor should you. Some kids are on financial aid, some aren’t. Money is a sensitive issue. Maybe some of the full-50K folks are “privileged” but a lot definitely aren’t. You sound unnecessarily bitter and willing to dismiss the hard work and financial sacrifice of other families.

    • Danielle, I think you’re missing the point. I’m all for people getting involved and by all accounts Harshil seems like a nice Kid, but I’m pretty sure most of the people at Swarthmore can agree that most of the specific spending increases he has proposed seem petty. Are pool sticks and segways what Swarthmore wants in their “financial policy”?

      To me, the best way to acknowledge and appreciate the hard work and financial sacrifice families have made is to ensure that their money goes towards the best Swarthmore can provide. If you think this means spending money on pool tables, a bigger gym, squash courts, segways, and such, then Harshil might be your candidate. But if you believe that our money is better spent in other ways, then I’m not sure why you are so critical of what I’ve written on the DG…

  12. Just because we want things like nicer gyms and air conditioning does not mean we feel entitled to them. As an athlete, I can honestly say our gym situation (and indoor facility situation, and equipment situation, and overall athletic situation) is a joke compared to other colleges. I do not feel “entitled” to better things, but they would be nice. Just some food for thought. Also, there’s nothing wrong with improving certain facilities or things we might consider “luxuries” especially since it makes the school more attractive to prospective students (using the athlete example once more, nicer gym/better equipment = this might be the school for me). And as far as the above-stated candidate goes, I think it is unfair to say there is a lack of experience. Our current President was a community organizer in his last job. Everybody love everybody.

  13. Why are we hating on entitlement? Not demanding more for your tuition is like going into a car dealership and accepting an outrageously inflated price- and then asking the dealer for a simpler model (at the same price) because some other people drive lemons. If we don’t ask for things, we won’t get them.

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