StuCo Makes Strides To Tackle Initiatives

Amidst all the national political buzz of late, the 10 dedicated Swatties of the College’s Student Council have been working hard to deliver on past promises as well and develop new initiatives here at Swarthmore.Co-Presidents Gabby Capone ’14 and Victor Brady ’13 each have high hopes for StuCo this year.

For Brady, the key is accessibility.

“My biggest goal when running for Co-President, if it were to be summed up in one word, was accessibility — in the sense of both knowing about and taking advantage of the social and academic opportunities,” he said.

Of the several main proposals on the table, Brady is very excited about a major SEPTA ticket program, much like those in place at Haverford and Bryn Mawr, which would enable students to take advantage of all the opportunities Philadelphia has to offer, free of charge.

Meanwhile, Capone hopes to use her experience garnered from serving as last year’s Appointments Chair in order to help streamline the Council and improve efficiency —“to focus less on planning and more on doing.”

“My original goal for myself was to keep StuCo relevant, flexible and ready to take on whatever came its way,” says Capone, “but this has evolved into a more specific goal of … ensuring that the goals of other members are accomplished.”

Some of the goals StuCo is focusing on include the restructuring of the pilot bike share program, increased evening food options, centralizing a campus events schedule, and revisiting semi-regular campus-wide collections, to name a few.

Newcomer to the Council Tony Lee ’15, one of two Campus Life Representatives, has been involved in the reform of the bike share pilot program. Alongside fellow Campus Life Rep Ali Roseberry-Polier ’14, Lee has worked closely with McCabe lending coordinator, Alison Mastpasqua, to revisit and re-design the program, which is riddled with kinks. Through examining feedback logs, revising the lending contract and employing a student bike mechanic, Lee and company are on pace to have the program up and running by the end of the semester.
Commitment as displayed by Lee and Roseberry-Polier is what both Capone and Brady see as crucial for StuCo’s ability to effect change.

“Historically, there has been a culture of talk and inaction within Student Council which I think can be attributed to trying to accomplish too much in our group Sunday meetings over the past few years,” says Brady. “Though the Sunday meetings are critical for discussing the initiatives that we work on and mapping our agenda, much more substantive work is accomplished by individual members or in small groups apart from this full council meeting. We’ve been working more on individual initiatives than ever before, and coming together with concrete proposals rather than just for abstract brainstorming sessions this semester.”

Capone sees a few challenges facing Student Council that need to be addressed.
“Internally, to begin with, [StuCo] is a relatively small group (10 people out of a campus of 1,500) and the students on Student Council are typically already very involved individuals — so you’ve got 10 spread-too-thin-students with very specific job descriptions who have to go the extra mile if they want to fit in everything they listed on their platform. Student Council would benefit from expansion and restructuring.”

Co-President Brady also sees decentralization as a problem for the group.

“Swarthmore is extremely decentralized in terms of funding sources and committees which contributes to an awful lot of frustration among the student body in terms of initiating change, or creating projects and new initiatives. I think there’s a major need for a student leadership forum — for club presidents or representatives and committee representatives to come together and report on the ‘happenings’ within each smaller group and collaborate on larger events.”

As an effort to make Student Council more accessible to all students wishing to join, the Council voted last year to pilot small stipends for elected officials serving in the 2012-2013 school year. This would have put Student Council positions on the same echelon as other committee coordinators around campus while also providing students in the work-study program a chance to contribute more easily.

The Student Budget Committee cut the program from StuCo’s budget.

For more information, students are welcome to attend meetings at 7 p.m. Sunday in Parrish Parlors, visit StuCo’s blog, http://swarthmorestuco.tumblr.com, which includes minutes from each meeting, or follow them on Twitter @swarthmorestuco.

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