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.
StuCo members are working on a proposed series of events tentatively called “Spirit Week,” which will be held once it gets warmer. Like its high-school counterpart, it will include inter-class competitions, events organized by various student groups, and student-suggested theme days – though pajama week was rejected for fear it might taint StuCo’s “street cred.”
Spirit Week comes as a response to widespread concerns over a lack of community and dialog, as well as a perceived absence of class pride. Trivia and other competitions could be held where each class would be represented, each team donning its class’s colors.
The week will be used to promote student groups’ communication with StuCo and each other. The recent Halloween party was cited as a sign that such communication has been lacking. The involvement of student groups in Spirit Week will also make it more community-driven as opposed to StuCo-imposed.
As for funding, StuCo plans to apply for funds from the $150,000 Community Development Fund, with members noting that it will require much less than $10,000.
Liaison Task Force/Student Senate
Student Groups Advisor David Ding ’16 came to Sunday’s meeting with a specific proposal: to create a Liaison Task Force. The task force, an idea he co-authored with Dean Liliana Rodriguez, would be a “student-informed panel” that serves to forge new “avenues for communications.”
StuCo showed little enthusiasm for another committee/task force. StuCo members pointed out that the campus community is going through “community fatigue,” exemplified by the small number of applicants for the Title IX Coordinator Search Committee.
Members stressed that rather than creating new committees and groups to deal with similar problems, the College should be looking into eliminating groups that are obsolete.
It was suggested that the Liaison Task Force concept be incorporated into the Student Senate. StuCo members feel that the Senate will draw more student interest and shares many goals with the Liaison Task Force.
Citing the previous semester’s high interest in Student Senate elections, Lanie Schlessinger ’15 said she has faith that the Student Senate will succeed in facilitating communication within the community.
StuCo has noticed that students want change, yet there is little interest in traditional, committee-driven efforts to achieve it. Members pointed out that there is widespread disillusionment with committees. They require large time commitments, yet are unsatisfying to student members because they are confidential and achieve little tangible change.
Some members pointed out that because committees are confidential, they do little to promote transparency. StuCo decided to push committees to make clear what is and is not confidential, so that the community can know as much as possible about their workings.
It was also noted that while many students actively call for change, they are more interested in responding to specific developments rather than overarching problems. StuCo believes that short-term problems should be dealt with through temporary task forces, while long-term committees should be kept to a minimum.
By cutting down on the number of committees, the college will increase the number of applicants for each. As one StuCo member pointed out, there is only a finite amount of politically active Swatties.
One StuCo member even suggested that all committees be merged into the Student Senate. It was decided that this is possible for student-only committees, and should be looked into.
StuCo members said that Career Services employees feel pressured by negative feedback that they have been receiving. StuCo will meet with Career Services to discuss, among other things, how alumni could be involved in Career Services events.
StuCo wants to get student ideas on what events they would benefit from when alumni visit next March. Mocktail hours and other mixers have been helpful in the past. Others suggested that larger, informal events be emphasized over formal networking dinners.
Members stressed the importance of keeping alumni interested in the school. One member cited the alarming statistic that alumni who do not donate within two years of graduation are likely to never donate at all. It was agreed that the College should increase its efforts to solicit donations – even small amounts – from young alumni. Colgate University, where Rebecca Chopp previously served as President will be contacted to share their experience with effective alumni networking.
StuCo pushed discussion of the new party policies to an external meeting.