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.
Co-President Victor Brady ’13 said that the email announcing spring StuCo elections went out to campus on Friday, April 19. At 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, StuCo held a meet-and-greet in Paces for students interested in applying. Platform submissions are due by May 2.
Board of Managers Member Fireside Chat
Campus Life Representative Tony Lee ’15 and Appointments Chair Yuan Qu ’13 were among the StuCo members who met with Nate Erskine ’10, a relatively new member of the Board of Managers. Erskine said that he would be happy to be available to have a fire-side-chat type event in Kohlberg during the annual board meeting.“The main point on his end is that he wants to increase knowledge and increase transparency on what the Board does and its role over the management of the school,” Lee said.
The meeting would be in addition to the meeting planned with students to talk about divestment during the weekend. “He really highlighted making students know that the Board is on their side: it isn’t just Administration and Board against the students,” Qu said.
Sexual Assault Task Force
An email was sent out asking for applications for the task force that will assist Dean of Students Liz Braun in reviewing the college’s sexual assault policy. The appointments committee will recommend eight applicants to President Rebecca Chopp and she would make the final selection of two students.
Lee said that the Dean’s Advisory Council met a few weeks ago and talked about putting structures in place for sexual assault. The administration mentioned the external review and thinks that the negative experiences people have had with reporting sexual assault are not reflective of the policies in place now. With the new website and the conversation on Wednesday, they want to show that they are putting in steps to make it better.
Student Senate Rules Vote
Student Senate will meet this Wednesday. They will be voting on the official rules for the senate and once passed, the rules will go out to the entire student body to be approved. The campus will vote and then in the fall there will be new elections for representatives.
Student Budget Committee (SBC) chair Jacob Adenbaum ’14 began the meeting by saying that SBC has sent all of next years’ student group budgets and spreadsheets to StuCo, and now StuCo has to approve them. StuCo members posed questions about the reasons behind cuts to certain groups. Adenbaum addressed concerns for specific clubs and explained SBC’s reasoning for the decisions made.
SBC spent $450,000 on spring budgeting this year, but their total annual budget is about $530,000, so they have about $80,000 dollars left for supplemental allocations. Rollover from this year (money collected from groups that did not use spend their entire budgets) is about $10,000-$15,000.
“To be honest, I wouldn’t be presenting this budget if I wasn’t proud of it,” Adenbaum said. It was the result of a lot of careful thinking and considering.” The budget passed with a unanimous vote, not counting Secretary Sun Park ’16, who was not in attendance.
Financial Policy Representative Natalia Choi ’15 raised concerns that the College Budget Committee (CBC) only meets once a semester. Adenbaum spoke of the problem of having CBC be on the terms of the school, and having the administration decide what information committee members see.
“I think it could become a much more productive way of giving students oversight over the College’s budgets if you were to appoint a student chair, and a good student chair, who would be aggressive and speak with the voice of StuCo and say ‘no, we need to see more,’” Adenbaum said.
Co-president Gabby Capone ’14 spoke of her frustrations with the committees on campus, beginning a long discussion on the need to change how committees work: “The students don’t get to set the agenda. They don’t know the agenda…There is a really false sense of transparency.”
The group discussed different approaches for making committees more accountable for what they are accomplishing. Capone said, “Part of the problem is appointing people in the first place. The second issue is what is actually getting done.”
Brady suggested monthly reports and Lee suggested that the part of applications should be asking for applicants’ questions and concerns, which would be sent directly to the committees to be discussed. Lee also suggested that a good role for the Campus Life Rep in the future may be to ensure that committees are held responsible.
Qu said that there has been trouble with StuCo members not showing up to some appointments meetings for committees: people are busy, but Capone said: “people really need to prioritize these interviews because it is one of the most important things we do.”
Brady said that he has heard that students do not know much about StuCo, despite StuCo’s work with Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and the weekly StuCo Report in The Daily Gazette. He suggested that in the future, StuCo co-presidents should speak at first collection, which used to be a tradition. Brady also suggested that StuCo should speak at freshman orientation so that students are introduced upon arrival.
Capone suggested a monthly email. Student Groups Advisor Lanie Schlessinger ’15 Lanie suggested that students are so flooded with technology communication that there was trouble getting through to them. She suggested reinstating “Flushies,” papers that go on the doors of bathroom stalls.
Educational Policy Rep Rachel Stein ’15 suggested sending out an update email over breaks when students are not inundated with other college communications.
Brady suggested monthly open meetings with students and/or administrators to talk about concerns and sentiments as they are coming up, rather than keeping them in and waiting until an issue bubbled up. “People found the Wednesday meeting [with Chopp] to be very cathartic,” he said.
Many separate groups and students have brought forward this idea recently. Schlessinger said, “Why do we keep talking about it and not doing it? Let’s do it!”