StuCo Report: Dreaming Big While Dealing with Committee and Election Reform

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.

StuCo held its first meeting of the semester this Sunday with its five current members;  the other five positions have been empty since last spring’s voided elections.


Co-President Gabby Capone ’14 reiterated her desire for StuCo to mobilize the community around a concrete project for the semester. While no idea will be selected until after the upcoming emergency elections, the Council brainstormed for several minutes.

Capone, stressing tangibility, expressed her interest in a new building, such as a library or student center. Student Outreach Coordinator Ian Anderson ’13 asked to make food available after hours. Secretary Sarah Dwider ‘13 suggested bringing back the old tradition of Quaker-style collections on a once- or twice-a-semester basis; she also wants to push for stronger student participation in Board of Managers meetings.

Campus Life Representative Ali Roseberry-Polier ’14 wanted StuCo to further address sexual assault and the insufficient number of gender-neutral bathrooms. While the rest of the council was in agreement with her, they felt that these issues should be addressed in addition to a bigger campus initiative.


In the wake of last semester’s elections, some members of StuCo brought up the issue of election bylaw reform. However, it was pointed out that a change to the bylaws would force another two-week waiting period and thus delay the elections, so Roseberry-Polier suggested sending out an email to candidates spelling out behavioral expectations. “If candidates have the audacity not to follow them,” she said, “then that’s their loss.”

According to Capone, the single bylaw currently on the books that applies to the emergency election simply stipulates that first-semester freshmen cannot run. Still, Anderson insists “we should make sure we follow every last rule to the letter.”

Appointments Chair Will Lawrence ’14 proposed creating a public forum for candidates to post their intents to run; this would allow them to make more informed choices about which positions to run for, preventing, for example, a glut of candidates for co-president or a lack of competition for others. Capone said she would ask potential candidates to email her their intents, which will be posted to the Tumblr page.

Capone said that a Q&A session should be held for the candidates, and that she wants it to have a large turnout. Discussion of the session’s location centered around Sharples, and the Council agreed that it should be visible to the community but non-threatening for the candidates.

Candidates’ platforms are due Monday, September 17, and elections are slated to begin by Wednesday of that week. Voting will end Thursday and results will likely be posted that night.

Most voting will take place electronically. Tabling, with laptops for vote entry, will occur in McCabe instead of in Sharples.

Lawrence called for a way to keep a record election appeals in a transparent way. The emergency appeal meeting last semester that resulted in a voided election did not require minutes to be taken. Lawrence thought that an audio recording, video recording, or live stream would be effective. “There’s an ingrained culture of slight opacity [at StuCo],” Lawrence said. “In order to overcome it we need to not rely on our good intentions … but be recorded in the meetings.”


Lawrence reported on his fact-finding mission about the extent of student input and participation in so-called student committees. He said that students will often be removed from the committees if their ideas run counter to those of the administration, and called the College Budget Committee (CBC) “a joke” with no real faculty input.

Lawrence is working with student committee chairs, and he wants to encourage more communication between StuCo and the student committees. StuCo will investigate the Council on Educational Policy (CEP), which deals with curriculum issues, and the College Judiciary Committee (CJC), which decides many student cases. Lawrence will meet with Suzanne Welsh, vice president for finance and treasurer, who sits on the CBC.

StuCo will also review the confidentiality agreements for the CJC and CEP, though the Council believes some sort of agreement is necessary for each.


The next Board of Managers luncheon will occur Saturday, September 22. It is likely that the five members elected the week before will be able to attend. Only co-presidents are actually invited to the meeting, which Capone calls “secondary” to the most restrictive meeting, which no one from StuCo is allowed to attend. StuCo will email students asking for topics to bring up at the luncheon.

Public Safety Director Mike Hill, who came to Swarthmore in the spring, is forming a group called the Swarthmore Working Activities Table Talk (SWATT), which will help “facilitate the planning of large events,” according to Lawrence. “The basic idea as I understand it,” Lawrence said, “is to have all of the logistical people, [including but not limited to Public Safety, the Deans, and two StuCo members] meeting every other week.” StuCo decided by consensus that the two Campus Life Representatives will take on this responsibility.

Finally, Lawrence, the appointments chair, said that he has gotten at least one interested student for nearly all open positions.


Capone noted it is important for students to remember that StuCo’s website can be accessed at swarthmorestuco.tumblr.com. Some information is out-of-date, but Capone says that updates will be made shortly.


  1. I’m wondering if STUCO would be interested in increasing the transparency of SBC. Maybe SBC could publiciize given funds in an excel document for each year and the past five years or so.

    • The DG did a big summary and analysis of SBC spring budgeting from 2000-2010, including the totals given to each group for each year (though just total amount given, not the category of funds or the reasons or anything). Unfortunately the pretty formatting I spent a bunch of time on didn’t really make it through to the new site, but the information’s all still there. 🙂

      It would be good to get more information than this more regularly / automatically, though.

  2. Hold on, hold on:

    It’s called Swarthmore Working Activities Table Talk?

    Why shorten it to SWATT when it could be shortened to Swat-WATT?



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