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.
Hello-My name is Daniel Cho ‘13 and I would love to become your next Student Council Co-President.
Over the past three years, I have had the opportunity to serve as a Resident Assistant, Student Representative on Council on Education Policy, and the President of the Lang Center sponsored Student-Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia (SREHUP).
These three different leadership experiences have uniquely informed myself in the ways in which I see the pulses and negatives of the Swarthmore experience. The following two (but not limited to) proposals are thoughts about how we can improve campus life via Student Council leadership.
1. Spring Festival: Building a greater sense of community on campus
Even though I haven’t had the opportunity to work extensively with the IC/BCC coalition, the goal of an overarching organizational structure to unify different groups on campus resonates strongly with my own. Group leaders from organizations like SAO, Enlace, and others are brought together through the coalition to work towards a collective cause: building a community at Swarthmore that will both appreciate and understand the diversity of the study body.
As Co-President, it is with the IC/BCC structural philosophy in mind that I wish to define Student Council’s identity. Specifically, I hope to organize opportunities and spaces to build a greater sense of community on campus.
We begin the year with the Activities Fair, which celebrates the wide range of interests on campus, and I believe we should end on a similar note. In order to address the lack of campus events that are focused on community-building, I would propose organizing a student festival in the spring semester. The essence of the event is “the campus throwing a party for the campus”. The gala relies upon a wide range of campus groups to lead the event, which broadens the scope from an individual group to the entire student body. Student Council would handle the funding and logistics, while different student groups would have the opportunity to assume other party -specific responsibilities. Some have likened this proposal to a “Students’ Day” celebration.
In the last two weeks, I have had the chance to talk to the following group leaders/members who have expressed interest (noncommittal) in taking part in this event:
Rhythm n Motion
Men’s Lacrosse Team
Peaslee Debate Society
Men’s/Women’s Swim Team
Student-Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia
And, last but not least, Student Council Co-President Gabby Capone, Matt Lamb, and Campus Life Representative Sean Bryant.
From these conversations, I am confident that we will be able to identify meaningful ways each student group/team on campus could contribute to the festival and that there is enough interest across different organizations to bring this event to life. As a result, I believe that this specific proposal is a reasonable goal to pursue in hopes of improving campus life and student group relations.
2. The need for a Swarthmore Education Forum
Presently, there is not a clear forum for students to articulate their thoughts and concerns about their individual Swarthmore academic experiences. Even though Student Council has deemed the area of Educational Policy important enough to create a position for it, assessing the student body’s academic needs and demands has remained a challenge. I believe that this is a concern also shared by student representatives of the Council on Educational Policy and those on the Curriculum as well. This difficulty is a big concern because current student representatives (unable to access a greater net of student experiences) cannot represent more than their thoughts and the experiences of their immediate peers.
Concurrently, the old (created by Eric Zwick ’07) and the new class rec books (“Disguide”) have become inaccessible to the student body. Both were online databases that compiled course reviews for students to use as another resource (in addition to SAMs and word of mouth) when selecting their classes. And without a doubt, it was a helpful guide. For those unfamiliar with the class rec book, imagine a Swarthmore profile of “RateMyProfessor” full of reviews, maintained internally, and tailored exclusively to the Swarthmore student body.
The class rec book was created by the students (Student Council and the Swarthmore College Computer Society) for the students. As a result, I believe this is a resource that needs great attention by Student Council again. If academics is one of the defining experiences of a Swattie, I believe that we need ensure that the student body is equipped with all the academic resources, so that students have a greater knowledge pool and context of courses when selecting them. My question to you: Do you ever feel like you have enough peer reviews during registration time?
My proposal is to revive the class rec book. But, instead of limiting the site to only class reviews, I would like expand the purpose of the rec book and make it an education forum. This forum could include departmental reviews, advice about the Honors System, and a space for students interested in a particular interdisciplinary program to voice their needs and demands. Once the class rec book is back running (I have contacted Student Council and Mark Serrano ‘13 to potentially head this project next semester), Based on the performance of the old class rec book, I anticipate this new forum to have a significant user base based solely on its primary function. Because the class rec book already draws the attention of a significant portion of the student body, it could easily be expanded into a larger discussion space. By consolidating a diverse array of topics related to the student academic experience at Swarthmore to one location, I believe that student voices about the academic experience here can be far better represented and actualized by student representatives.
If elected, I will ensure that Student Council is conscious of its leadership position and encourage it to build a stronger community on campus. My hope is that as Co-President, I can actively seek out your ideas and solutions for campus concerns even beyond these two proposals.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you have any questions, suggestions or thoughts please e-mail me (Dcho1). I’d be more than happy to reply.