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 Daniel Cho ’13 and I would love to be your next Student Council Co-President.
I ran for Co-President last spring because I believed my ideas could improve our student experience at Swarthmore. I had hoped to organize a union to bring student groups on campus together, believing it could promote greater collaboration and inter-group exchange. Also, knowing that Swarthmore no longer maintained an online course rating guide unlike many of our peer institutions, I had hoped that a course rec book could serve as another resource to the SAMS so that students could select their courses with more information in hand. Ultimately, through these two proposals, I was interested in making Student Council more relevant to the student body.
Several months later, I still feel the same way. Gathering from my experiences as 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), I believe that I have the necessary patience, experience, and skills to be Swarthmore’s next Student Council Co-President.
The following two (but not limited to) proposals are thoughts about how we can improve campus life via Student Council leadership.
1. 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.
2. Identifying ways to increase campus unity
The IC/BCC coalition’s goal of an overarching organizational structure to unify different groups on campus resonates strongly with me. 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, I hope to organize opportunities and spaces to build a greater sense of community on campus.
Last year, I had the chance to talk to the leaders/members of close to two-dozen students groups about a proposal focused on campus unity (“Spring Festival”). Building on these conversations this year, I hope to identify meaningful ways in which student groups will be able to come together. Bryn Mawr and Haverford organize a “plenary session” each semester to provide students the opportunity to gather together, seek support from other groups, and debate campus-wide policies. Similarly, many larger state institutions have formal student unions and assemblies where group representatives can express their concerns and find support. When considering Student Council’s unique role on campus as the representative voice for the student body, I think it’s important that we work towards organizing a formal space for these voices to be heard and listened to. This will undoubtedly be a long-term project, but a worthwhile initiative that I believe Student Council should definitely prioritize.
My hope is that as Co-President, I can actively seek out your ideas and solutions for campus concerns. Working closely with the deans, especially Alina Wong, the new Director of the Intercultural Center, I hope to not only build a stronger community on campus, but ensure that Student Council explores different and creative solutions to make Swarthmore a more enriching experience for you.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and if you have any questions, suggestions or thoughts, please e-mail me (Dcho1). I’d be more than happy to reply
In lieu of a Q+A session, StuCo asks that students use the comments section of The Daily Gazette to discuss the candidate’s platform. For this reason, StuCo encourages students to use their real names.