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.
Hey Swat! My name is Victor Brady ’13, and I would love to be your next StuCo Co-President. As Co-President, I will work to ensure not just the relevance of StuCo, but more importantly, of your individual and collective ideas, opinions and concerns in enriching this community through action.
As StuCo Co-President, I will:
- Expand the Small Steps Campaign that I created as Student Life Representative in 2011 to target more areas of contention on campus.
- Increase collaboration among organizations and committees with similar missions to reduce redundancy and create greater collective projects.
- Increase the accessibility of student and organization funding by through an institutional map of our funding resources.
- Create a user-friendly student events calendar, in line with our peer institutions, to reduce unintended overlap of activities.
- Revise open dialogues to emphasize student concern over opening statements or a reiteration of current policy.
- Most importantly, I believe in action. I will seek out your ideas for action and work with you to transform suggestions and concerns into tangible action that strengthens and enriches our community.
When I served on StuCo as a Student Life Representative in 2011, I initiated the Small-Steps campaign to address and alleviate small points of contention on campus. That campaign has been a tremendous success. Class-registration has been adjusted so that the MySwarthmore system no longer freezes atmidnightwhen the servers are overloaded by students logging in to pre-register. Meal-equivalencies in Tarble have been adjusted so that a meal is actually a meal. And the current Council is working to address several additional concerns. I will continue to utilize Small-Steps to improve the quality of student life on campus. This is one of the jobs of StuCo, to act as a facilitator in addressing concerns that add up to a general frustration with student life. I will work to better align StuCo’s goals with the goals of the student body. Our StuCo is only effective if it tackles issues that are important to you.
In recent years, StuCo has made important progress in increasing the transparency of decision-making at Swarthmore through fireside chats and open dialogues. But I believe that transparency extends beyond the creation of forums, some quickly forgotten, for discussing ideas and decisions. Transparency must be increased not just in the interaction between administrators and students but also amongst students and between clubs, organizations and committees. I will extend transparency into action not just to represent student concerns in administrative decisions but also to increase collaboration among organizations and committees with similar missions and to increase the accessibility of student activity funding.
Swarthmore has remarkable financial resources for organizing activities but too often these resources are hidden in an intricate web of committees, forums, and administrative or departmental offices. No student should miss out on these resources because they are unable to untangle an overly complicated financial network. In addition to working with our Student Budget Committee and Social Activities Committee to streamline the funding process, I will create a map of all of Swarthmore’s sources of funding to increase the transparency of and accessibility to those funds. Part of the mapping process will be an evaluation of all of our current clubs, organizations and committees to determine where there exists overlap in mission or activities. By putting these groups in contact with one another, we can create greater collaborative projects and reduce redundancy in funding.
Too often, events that occur on campus overlap and conflict with one another not due to poor planning but due to a lack of an easily accessible and user-friendly calendar when planning events weeks or even months in advance. Swarthmore should have an easily-accessible community event calendar through which all activities, student-run, administrative-run, even arboretum-run, are entered. Our current campus calendar leaves much to be desired in comparison to our peer institutions and I will work to create an improved system so that unnecessary and unintentional conflicts can be avoided.
While I laud the current StuCo’s use of open discussion to increase dialogue about important issues within our community, I believe that the current model of discussion must be adapted to ensure greater student voice. These dialogues often face great time constraints and so they should take on a more town-hall-meeting design that emphasizes student concern rather than background information or even responses from administrators or StuCo members. Open discussions provide a unique opportunity for students to have their opinions publicly heard by administrators and your StuCo and so student input should be maximized. When a substantial portion of open discussions are lost to opening statements or the reiteration of current policy, the discussions lose their effectiveness as public forums for student input. Through this new model, background information on an open-discussion topic will be delivered through student publications or hard copy prior to a dialogue and the responses to student ideas will be delivered similarly after the discussion is completed. The discussions themselves will be all about hearing your ideas because that should be the purpose of open discussions: a bottom-up check on administrators and Student Council.
In addition to my year on StuCo, I have served on the Deans Advisory Council and on the Student Advisory Committee to the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. I have extensive experience meeting with administrators, and more importantly, in standing up as a representative of your ideas. I believe in action. And as co-president, I will seek out your ideas for action and work with you to transform suggestions and concerns into tangible action that strengthens and enriches our community.
My ears, and my door, are always open. I am eager to serve as your next StuCo Co-President.
All the best,
Victor Brady ’13