Student Senate Working Groups Lay Out Ideas

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.

At last night’s Student Senate meeting, the four working groups—Rules and Logistics, Dining Services, Student Activities, and ITS—presented the results of the brainstorming sessions that they have held since the last Senate meeting two weeks ago.

Rules and Logistics Working Group

Members of the Rules and Logistics Working Group presented the draft of their Student Senate Statement of Purpose as well as the foundations for a Constitution that, when formalized, would be officially in place during the 2013-2014 year. Both documents will also shape what the Senate will do during the final month of this semester.

Senator Jacob Adenbaum ‘14, who helped lead this discussion, said that the form and intent of the Senate is still in flux, but that it will learn by doing. This reiterates what StuCo Co-Presidents Gabby Capone ‘13 and Victor Brady ‘13 have said about the Senate since the idea was proposed to the student body earlier in the semester. Adenbaum also said that the Senate will work to merge organically with StuCo in the medium-term future.

Senators will have some time in the next couple of weeks to add their comments to the Statement of Purpose document. The group proposed a number of comment categories that give some hints as to the types of work the Senate will address. These categories include, among others: appointments, chartering, elections, procedures, ratification, and student activities accounts.

The group also laid out a series of preliminary rules and procedures that would form a foundation for the future Constitution.

The group suggested that agenda items be proposed one week in advance and co-sponsored by at least three Senators. These items might include resolutions to be put to a vote, reports from working groups, and topics of discussion. Voting would be conducted by roll call at the request of a single Senator and would require a quorum of a majority of Senators to be in attendance.

At last week’s meeting, Capone and Brady asked Senators to nominate a Speaker and a Scribe, but not enough nominations had been received to take action last night. The Rules and Logistics Working Group explained that it would be the responsibility of the Speaker to manage the flow of discussion and business at each meeting and to keep things moving.

Dining Services Working Group

The Dining Services Working Group, whose mantra is “more food and more time,” discussed moving Sharples dinner hours back to 4:15-7:30 p.m. from the current 4:00-7:15 p.m. Hypothetically, extending hours would reduce waiting time in the dining room.

The group also brought up the idea of sending out a “Sharples Survey” that would accept suggestions about food and other things under the purview Dining Services.

Senator Andrew Karas advanced the idea that students should be allowed to bring their own containers to Sharples for take-out. The other two Tri-Co colleges, Bryn Mawr and Haverford, offer Styrofoam containers for their students to take-out food of their main dining halls whenever they don’t have the time to eat in. Another idea that was brought by the Dining Services Working Group was re-arranging bars in Sharples to make access easier for students and to prevent traffic jams.

When a Senator asked why students couldn’t swipe meals at the coffee bar, the explanation was that coffee bars, which purchase food from local restaurants, could not control their budgets if they adopted this system. In the same vein, points at Paces Cafe would only be made possible if the cafe adhered to the health regulations imposed by the College. A member of the Dining Services Working Group said that, since PubNight is held in this space every Thursday, keeping up to code might be a little difficult for Paces.

The group was primarily concerned with extending the hours of food service on campus. To solve this, they proposed employing students to run the coffee bars during late hours since the administration does not want the dining services staff working after a certain time. Senator Ben Wolcott ‘14 asked members of the group to be sure to avoid replacing staff members with student workers, as Swarthmore is a significant source of jobs for the local community.

Student Activities Working Group

The Student Activities Working Group raised the question of whether student volunteers should be employed to work for the Large Scale Event (LSE) Committee but Senator Wolcott asked if they would be paid for their hours considering it is extensive work.

The working group also suggested to change the way the LSE is organized by asking the student body more in advance what kind of artists they would like to see come to campus.

On a related topic, Senators will be meeting with the administration to discuss appointment considerations for the Student Activities Coordinator position and offer suggestions on who to hire, said Senator Pendle Marshall-Hallmark ‘14.

Discussion then turned to streamlining funding by publishing a troubleshooting guide in a flow chart format just like the one recently created by the Student Budget Committee.

ITS Working Group

The ITS Working Group identified campus WiFi and printers as two technology systems that they would like to work to improve.

Acknowledging the difficulty in accomplishing multiple major changes by the end of the year, members of the group said they planned to focus on accountability and transparency. They suggested implementing a panel on the Dash to list problems that had been registered by ITS and show which had been solved.

Senator Razi Shaban ‘16 said that students might be more willing to seek out the proper authorities upon encountering problems if they knew they’d be able to see if anything had been done.

Members of the working group also pitched an online chat feature or “help desk” that students could use to contact members of ITS.

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