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 Lanie Schlessinger, and I am running for the position of co-president for the 2013-2014 school year. I served as the Student Groups Adviser on StuCo for the past two years. In that time, I organized and passed three major chartering reforms in order to legitimize the process and build institutional memory. These reforms enabled us to recognize a lot of overlap in student groups, and by encouraging collaboration among similar groups, we were able to make the most of our limited resources. I also organized the Student Groups Master List, which is a running document organizing the contact information and meeting times for chartered groups on campus.
Outside of the chartering committee, I took on many projects to improve campus life. I have been working to secure funding for Green Advisors, which would greatly improve the green culture on campus by ensuring that we have a GA on every hall. I have been working with ITS to solve the printing problems on campus; we have created information forms to hang at each of the printing stations on campus and are hoping to create an online database that would enable anyone to check which printers are working online. Additionally, last semester, I began to develop a guide to life at Swat that we could distribute to new students and have available online for current students. StuCo is now working to create the Student Resource Guide (SRG), which includes everything from meal plan information to party-planning directions.
By far the most exciting StuCo project I have worked on is creating the Student Senate. Last year, current co-president Gabby Capone and I often discussed the need for more manpower and a more representative student government body. We referred to the project then as “Megacouncil,” but this eventually grew into what is now the pilot Student Senate. Though the Student Senate is currently in its earliest stages, it has enormous potential, and I will ensure that it becomes an integral component of substantive student-decision making on this campus in the coming year.
However, despite all of this progress, there is plenty of work to be done, and that is what I want to tackle in the coming year. Besides continuing to build on the projects we are already working on (such as the Student Groups Master List, the Student Resource Guide, and the Student Senate), I will implement several new initiatives. In working to become better global citizens with an ethical education, I will develop a system that would enable Student Council to lead small fundraising efforts in the wake of major tragedies, such as the Boston bombings. I am also excited to reform the college committee system. Whereas currently many student positions on these committees are merely educational, I would like to see students having the opportunity to give genuine input on college committees and influence the actual legislation that affects all of us. After interviewing dozens of applicants for these positions, it is clear to me that many of these students have fantastic ideas for their respective committees, many of which may not be heard or carried out. Furthermore, it is important for us to increase Student Council’s oversight over these committees to ensure that they are continuing to achieve their intended objectives. Finally, I have seen in our campus this semester a desire for more interface with the administration, and I will lead StuCo to organize more open community meetings, in addition to possibly holding weekly or monthly collections.
Finally, I would like to continue to do whatever possible to increase the transparency and accessibility of StuCo. Though we publicize our efforts and accomplishments across many mediums, (DG write-ups for weekly meetings, campus-wide emails, Twitter, Facbeook), it still seems that there is a kink in the dialogue between the student body and StuCo. This semester, we began helping to serve dinner in Sharples on particularly busy nights, which enabled us to help the community in a hands-on way, and we will continue this next semester. I would also like to email out the Small Steps Forward link (student council’s online suggestion box) once a month to remind students to give us their suggestions. Furthermore, we will restart “StuCo Flushes” – flyers containing StuCo information that are posted on bathroom doors to publicize what is going on in Student Council. Finally, I will host Student Council office hours, during which anyone can come ask questions or share campus concerns, especially when seeking a liaison between the student body and the administration.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my platform!
The Student Groups Master List is a work in progress. We are adding the last round of chartered groups and trying to sort out a lot of kinks, including many last minute contact changes. But it should be posted on the StuCo Tumblr and available in hard copy form in McCabe by the end of reading week!
Many committees, such as the Admissions Committee and the Council on Educational Policy, serve more to educate students on these topics than take their suggestions. StuCo has received a lot of feedback indicating that the student positions on many committees create a false sense of transparency as the students’ roles are extremely limited. This happens because more sensitive, confidential committees have not yet figured out how to accommodate student input. I think it is important for us to begin to work toward committee reform by discussing what can be done to change this dynamic without compromising the productivity of these committees.