Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
My name is Evelyn (Evy) Fraga and I want to be your next Student Council Co-President.
I am running for co-president because I want to see StuCo continue to grow in its accessibility, effectiveness, and relevance.
Before I go into details about some of my goals as co-president of StuCo, let me first tell you a little bit about myself. I am a junior, majoring in Latin@ and Latin American studies with a minor in Educational Studies. Outside of the classroom, I’ve held leadership positions in the Intercultural Center/Black Cultural Center community (participating in both ENLACE and Swarthmore Womyn of Color), held an intern position as van coordinator for the Land Center, and I’m currently an active participant in WRC board.
A quality I feel to be very important for a StuCo candidate is the ability to reach out to the student body and be receptive to their concerns. I think the following example clearly demonstrates my dedication to ensuring StuCo is an accessible body of information and is actively trying to connect with student groups. During the spring of my first year at Swat I was one of three founders of ‘Swatties 4 a DREAM,’ a student group that was able to mobilize across the school and persuade the administration to come out in support of the DREAM Act. I met with several groups on campus asking them to sign a petition that was later handed over to President Rebecca Chopp. An essential part of this campaign was listening to students’ concerns about both the DREAM Act itself and the consequences of having the school publically support it. Through this campaign I learned valuable information on what does and does not work when trying to reach the campus.
There is always room for improving the lines of communication between the student body and student council. Student Council’s first and foremost responsibility is to represent the student body, whether it is expressing concerns in relation to Strategic Planning or the lack of student involvement in choosing the next Dean of Multicultural Affairs.
Within the last year, student groups have really begun to feel the budget cuts. With budget cuts left and right, I think it is also important that we work towards maximizing the funds that are allocated to student groups. This means working closely with SBC in order to minimize rollover funds and maximize money that goes towards helping student groups achieve their goals.
It also seems to me that every new cabinet that enters office find themselves having to reinventing the wheel. With that said, I would like to start an initiative to create more institutional memory within StuCo. This would be more informal than meeting notes and instead would be a way to have previous members share what they have learned during their term, similar to a reflection where student body officials compile a “secrets for working with administration” record. The benefits of keeping such a record would include being able to look back and see (in a much more concise manner) how past StuCo cabinets have (or have not) successfully interacted with certain members of administration on any number of topics.
One of the major goals for my term as StuCo Co-President would be to work with administration to combat the lack of transparency with how the school handles cases of sexual assault. It is no secret that sexual assault occurs on campus and yet, campus wide discussions about sexual assault are long overdue. Such conversations should not only be a focus during GenderF*** planning. We must work together towards creating a safer campus environment. Part of helping create a safer campus is to also create structures of support for survivors.
Additionally, I would like to reintroduce the discussion on having more academic support for the student body, including (but not limited to) helping first years have a healthy transition into college academics and life. If elected, I will make sure we work towards ameliorating the transition process for all. Swarthmore prides itself on being an elite and prestigious institution and we as a community need to work together to ensure that the diversity of courses offered measure up to those standards. In order to fully carry out this commitment we first must work towards increasing course and faculty diversity. Along the same lines, I would also want to prioritize and place pressure on administration to fill the position left vacant by Dean Smaw, the Dean for Multicultural Affairs. It goes without being said the extreme importance that there is in having a Dean of Multicultural Affairs and not having one reflects poorly on Swarthmore’s part.
I feel that experiences such as this have adequately prepared me to represent the student body as StuCo Co-President. Despite this term being only for one semester I feel that these are reasonable goals to have, thus ensuring a more successful semester. I still, however, want to emphasis that the role of Student Council is to be proactive about the needs and desires of the student body instead of pushing forth any one member’s personal agenda. As StuCo Co-President I will work with StuCo and school administrators to find solutions to the student body’s most pressing issues.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions please do not hesitate to contact me (efraga1).