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.
Dean Braun: Referendum Would Not Be Binding
Co-Presidents Gabby Capone ’13 and Victor Brady ‘13 met with Dean of Students Liz Braun last week to discuss the proposed referendum on Greek life. As a formal petition has not yet been brought to StuCo, the referendum is not yet required to occur. Brady and Capone learned that any referendum on the existence of Greek life would not be binding but could still nominally occur.
“The Board of Managers is responsible for running the College, including Greek life,” Brady said. “What a referendum would be is a thermometer of feeling of the student body … a referendum is not a guarantee of action.” It would, however, be taken more seriously than an opinion poll, he said, and the Deans “could take results of the referendum seriously in looking at policy or what to do.”
Referendum or no, StuCo is taking responsibility for facilitating the next discussion on Greek life. “We’re putting ourselves forward and offering to,” Brady said. Capone said StuCo would facilitate “to the best that we can.”
The meeting with Braun did not explicitly clarify what role the administration will have in these discussions, Brady said. “One issue is with Greek life itself,” Brady said. “The other issue, of appreciating diversity in every setting on campus, has come up a lot. In that context [the Deans] are really invested and want to help organize discussion.”
Education Policy Representative Rachel Stein ’15 said Joyce Wu ’15, who wrote the referendum petition, had met with the heads of Greek life on campus. “All of them wanted [Capone] and [Brady] to lead a discussion on Friday at 7:30,” Stein said.
Brady also said that President Rebecca Chopp told StuCo that she was looking forward to “facilitating a dialogue that should’ve happened.”
Brady said that he would meet on Monday with Wu and Assistant Dean Karlene Burrell-McRae to talk about upcoming discussions. Brady said Burrell-McRae had expressed interest in helping to facilitating campus-wide discussion. “We may have speakers from the Deans’ Office [at the discussions], and [Burrell-McRae] said she was interested in helping to organize and facilitate if she was asked as well.”
Board of Managers Meeting
Capone ’14 said she attended this weekend’s meeting of the Board of Managers, where Chair Gil Kemp ’72 announced a $20 million donation.
The meeting focused on the annual budget and the Strategic Plan, according to Capone. This year’s operating budget has increased over last year’s, and tuition will going up 3.8 percent to $57,870. Capone said Student Senate might explore the issue of tuition increases. She also said that the meeting included a “long PowerPoint about investment.”
The Board also approved six new staff positions: Sustainability Coordinator, an additional Psychologist at CAPS, a Sports Medicine Intern, a Residential Life Intern, and two new ITS positions.
Elections for Student Senate positions are scheduled to take place next week. Elections will be announced this Wednesday or Thursday, Capone said. The Senate will consist of 31 committee members (one from every committee a student serves on), four StuCo members (the two Co-Presidents and Campus Life Representatives), and ten at-large members, to be elected by the student body. The group will tackle “issues that StuCo is too overwhelmed to deal with” and will communicate with the President, Deans’ staff, and department heads, Brady said.
One idea is to have members of the administration present various topics and receive the Senate’s feedback. Capone mentioned having Chief Information Technology Officer Joel Cooper speak to the Senate about ITS’s direction in the next five to ten years.
This weekend, the StuCo SEPTA pilot program distributed its first round of forty free roundtrip tickets. Through the program, StuCo sends out an online form where students can register their interest. This week 91 students asked for tickets, with the awardees randomly selected. Students are asked not to apply for tickets for trips the College could already cover, such as classes or internships.
Student Outreach Coordinator Aya Ibrahim ’15 said that although feedback on the program has been positive overall, many students expressed disappointment about the 40-ticket limit.
The pilot project will give StuCo an idea of whether that limit should be changed in the future. Since Haverford provides 50 tickets, Capone wrote in an email, StuCo decided to begin the program with around that many. “If we find at the end of the semester that 40 is not meeting student needs (by a drastic amount) then we will look to see how we could expand the program as such,” she wrote. She said StuCo is looking to determine if a student position needs to be created to manage the program.
Student Resource Guide
Lee said that the committee to put together the Resource Guide met last week and assigned roles. Members of StuCo are to write articles on various facets of campus and student life, which they will peer-review and post on the Guide.
The Resource Guide will operate using a MediaWiki interface run on the SCCS server with ITS authentication, meaning that students will be able to access it using their Swarthmore email address. “SCCS is drafting a skeleton website tonight,” Lee said. While there will be access to the Guide from the Dash, Lee said there were “no guarantees about having a tab on the Dash.”
Lee said that the committee also “talked about doing a reach-out process to SBC and other organizations to get them to write their own sections” of the Wiki.
According to Lee, a campus bikeshare program will officially begin next weekend. “I’m formalizing the management side, because the physical side, the bikes, is basically almost done,” Lee said. Bikes will be held behind Parrish, and students can pick up keys by showing their IDs at McCabe.
The program will also feature a Google account with Google Voice. If something goes wrong with a bike, bike sharers can send a text to the account which will go straight to the mechanic.
Short-Term Tarble Renovations
Brady spoke with Dean of Student Life Myrt Westphal, members of the Facilities Department, and SCCS about renovating Tarble before the complete overhaul called for in the Strategic Plan. The short-term plan, he said, is to put more money into redoing the SCCS space downstairs in Tarble in order to make it more usable for the next few years.
“[Westphal] asked me to emphasize that SCCS is for everyone,” Brady said. “It’s the only 24-hour computer lab on campus, and they have very fast internet.” Brady mentioned some coming improvements such as better soundproofing from Paces and new carpet.
The game room by Essie Mae’s will be transformed into a “Kohlberg-style lounge.” Brady said that though there is some concern among those who frequently use the game room, the games will be preserved and moved to a different location.
“If we get started soon, and it sounds like they’re planning on it, it could be done by graduation,” Brady said.
Public Safety Initiatives
Ibrahim participated in a night walk with Public Safety Director Mike Hill and the Public Safety Committee in order to identify “problem spots” with lighting on campus. Ibrahim said that some changes could be made within the next few weeks to improve lighting at night. One suggestion was placing lights on the corners of dorms and on the outside of Phi Psi.
The tour also included a discussion of campus phones. Ibrahim said that phones might be painted a bright color like garnet until a more long-term solution, like bluelights, could be decided upon.
Public Safety will also be revising its policies about locked-doors on campus, as well as a crosswalk from Benjamin West House to Cunningham Field.
StuCo discussed whether or not to throw a formal this spring. Stein expressed concern due to the already-tight budget: “we just heard how much of a mess SBC is in,” she said. “It wouldn’t be in balancing the budget’s best interest.”
“That’s a prudent way to look at it, but this is coming from SAC’s funding and they have to have a big dry event [every semester],” Capone said.
Appointments Chair Yuan Qu ‘14 argued that a SAC-required dry event should be under SAC’s purview. Brady said that hosting a formal might be good publicity for StuCo. “Would it necessarily be good publicity with all the funding controversy?” Qu said.
Dining Services, Committee Appointments, Student Events Calendar
Dining Services has hired a consultant to evaluate food options on campus. Capone said that the consultant will be visiting in late March and will likely hold a focus group with Student Council.
Capone said that in her meeting with Braun and Chopp StuCo received an explanation of how the College organizes committee members. Capone said she would like Qu to start organizing student committee appointments in the same way.
Brady said that the events calendar will be installed in Shane Lounge this week.