StuCo Report: Genderfuck, Student Government, & LSE

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.


Social Affairs Committee (SAC) Co-Chair Josh Hallquist ’14 began the meeting by talking about Genderfuck planning for next weekend. SAC has been encouraging RAs to be more proactive about providing resources before Genderfuck and encouraging students to attend the upcoming bystander intervention workshop on April 24th from 6pm-8pm in Bond Hall and the drag workshop this coming Saturday.

Restructuring Student Government

StuCo has agreed to create a better model for student government in an attempt to figure out how to move from current structure to what will hopefully be more thoughtful and intentional than its current structure. The senators from Student Assembly will combine with the officers of StuCo to form one large council, with a docket of bills proposed by a member or group of members. The agenda will be set based on these bills, which could pass, fail, or be tabled for the following meeting. This system will ideally be most efficient with the larger number of members and also more deliberate, as all the members proposing the bill would be in charge of executing it, if it came to pass. This new structure is intended to be a response to concerns over transparency and accessibility that arose this semester.

UntitledThe question of how the constitution will be drafted based on these changes was discussed in great depth, and the council came down to three main options for drafting the constitution: 1) the constitution could be written by StuCo this week and be sent out to the student body to be ratified over the next two weeks. 2) StuCo could write a temporary constitution and organize a summer task force to draft a more permanent constitution over the summer. 3) The entire constitution could be written over the summer with no temporary constitution, and the constitution would reflect all of the decisions made over the next few weeks before the end of the semester about the restructuring of student government. StuCo voted on these three options and the second option passed unanimously. This seemed like the best option because it drew a balance between having a hastily drawn up constitution and a constitution that took too long, which could potentially result in Swarthmore not having a concrete student government until six weeks into the coming fall semester. The next step is to write the temporary constitution and form a committee responsible for writing the permanent constitution over the summer.

Allocating LSE money

StuCo will also be putting out a motion for a new funding structure for the Large Scale Event (LSE) to the student body. This year, StuCo received $60,000 from SBC for next year’s LSE and StuCo is proposing to put this money to various uses, breaking down the $60,000 into $10,000 for concerts, $12,000 for SEPTA tickets, $28,000 for LSE, and $10,000 for proposals. StuCo is considering forming a new committee devoted to coming up with and collecting proposals to use the $10,000 allocated for proposals. The student body will receive more details in a forthcoming email.

StuCo minutes can be found online here. You can submit suggestions for StuCo on the Small Steps Forward page.

Image courtesy of Lanie Schlessinger ’15.


  1. Re: Getting Rid of the Student Senate:

    You don’t need to look back far to see when the Student Senate was created. Just two semesters, in fact. According to the Stuco Report from January 2013,

    “Co-President Victor Brady ‘13 discussed the soon-to-be-formed Student Senate. “We are the last school among our peer institutions not to have a Student Senate,” he said.” and “Brady said he thinks that this will provide a “nice cross-section of individuals . . . that’s more representative than StuCo,” though StuCo would oversee the Senate’s activities.”

    Further, this was clearly envisioned as a body that would be quite productive. In an e-mail to the Student Body in February 2013, Gabby Capone wrote, “The Student Senate will be involved in substantive college policy construction and implementation. In addition to being a representative student assembly to be consulted by faculty and staff, the Senate will undertake student-driven policy- and college-related initiatives. Student Council moderators will manage the Senate’s agenda. Two proposed agenda items include: discussing ITS’s long-term and short-term objectives with Joel Cooper, the new CTO of ITS, and helping Public Safety to develop a strategic plan. President Chopp and the Deans’ Office will make regular use of the Student Senate.”

    Later that semester, the Student Senate had their first meeting, which seemed to go well: “Brady and Co-President Gabby Capone ‘14 said they were pleased with the outcome of the Student Senate meeting that took place on Wednesday, April 3. The Rules and Senate logistics working group drafted a constitution, which is slated to be ratified by the student body sometime in the near future.”

    As late as December 2013, Gabby Capone sent another all campus e-mail, detailing the changes associated with Stuco and the envisioned function of the Student Senate.

    “A new hope: We’ve been researching student governments (e.g. Middlebury’s, Grinnell’s), speaking to student leaders (met with over 15 orgs this semester), and brainstorming together. It started with a member’s proposal 3 years ago. We’ve been talking and planning since then.”

    “StuCo (The After?): The transition would be to a Campus Council (StuCo equivalent) and a Student Assembly (Student Senate equivalent for those here last spring).The SA would have resolution-passing and committee-making powers as well as a new student government duty: holding a campus-wide vote on ideas proposed by students for student government to undertake. The CC would take on StuCo’s more internal/administrative duties, such as (1) overseeing the SBC and SAC committees (SAC and SBC leaders would be on the CC, as opposed to working separately) to create cohesion among student government entities that are currently decentralized and (2) and tackling specific policy issues (independently and in corporation with Senators from the SA).”

    So, I’m a bit reluctant and surprised that we’re now working to remove the Student Assembly / Senate. After 12 months of work implementing something, now we’re going to dismantle it after 4 months.

    So, here are my questions for the members of StuCo:

    – If other peer institutions have a Student Assembly / Senate, what are they doing differently that makes it more effective / worthwhile? How can we make the system better?

    – What were the perceived benefits of having two, more separate parts of Student Government, and why is combining them into a single one better? What are the cons here?

    – If two semesters ago having a different structure seemed like a good idea, what has changed since then?

    I’m not trying to say that changing the system is bad. I just think that this change sounds hasty, and that we need to be cognizant that, just over 12 months ago, members of Stuco created the Student Senate with positive intentions.

  2. One concern I have with the new idea is the following – Student Senate actually has disproportionate representation. I don’t mean this just in the sense that in the US Senate, Californians have the same number of senators as Wyoming people (?). There are certain seats – the old StuCo ones – where everyone can vote for that seat. There are other seats such as the BCC or IC seats where only members of those organizations are choosing those representatives/presumably are being represented by them. In this sense, not only do we have disproportionate representation in the first sense I mentioned – one representative representing a smaller group than another representative – but certain people on campus actually have *more* representatives in StuCo than other people.

    I certainly understand that certain groups, such as the BCC and IC, feel that they are underrepresented in StuCo – however, as a matter of creating more effective voting representation, this is not the best system to do so. When you look at the US Congress, you have minority-majority districts that help to ensure minority representation in Congress, but they are not simultaneously given votes in the Senate.

    • I don’t think the way you describe it makes much sense, but that’s just me. From a purely math/political science perspective, what you said actually doesn’t make much sense. If the entire campus is voting for StuCo, then the majority is overrepresented on StuCo (if you want to define it as that). Meaning groups that are minorities, in terms of numbers on campus, would naturally get less “representation” on a proportional basis than the majority. How is this overrepresentation, unless you are argue the BCC/IC are already the majority? I’m curious.

      • No, that’s not really the case. Let’s start with the old system, and say we’re taking the vote for StuCo chair. Everyone votes in that race on campus. If 20% of the student body is Asian, then they account for 20% of the voting eligible population (depending on how different demographic groups turn out for these races, they might be a smaller share of the electorate, but I would not make any inferences about that without any data). Aggregate this result for each candidate who is elected by everyone in the student body, and Asian Swatties would have 20% of the vote in sum.

        Now, under the new system, suppose there is a SAO representative – we can reasonably assume that 100% of the voting eligible population for that representative is Asian. Suppose that that member is one of ten members in this new assembly, and all other members are as I described them above. Then Asian students have an equal vote as everyone else in electing the other nine representatives but a full vote for the tenth, meaning their voting power is 28% on average while the other students’ voting power is 72% even though they only constitute 20% of the population.

        Alternatively, you can view it as SAO having 10 representatives while the rest of the campus only has 9. Essentially, you’re not considering overrepresentation correctly in a mathematical sense – the question is whether you are being represented more or less than one would expect based on the “one man, one vote” principle.

        • I think there are some bad assumptions. Where do you logically get that SAO has 10 reps, when they are 20% of the population? When you talk about representation – if its a majority vote the other 80% is more likely represented than SAO’s interest. So how are the 9 others representing SAO? For example, let’s say SAO’s preferred candidates for the other 9 poisitons win 80 for versus 20 for the other candidate representing SAO’s vote, how do they then in reality have 10 reps? Makes no sense. You are creating a world that doesn’t exist.

  3. Maybe that chart is incorrect, but why does Willets get 2 senators?

    Dana and Hallowell both have roughly 90 residents in them and the two dorms get represented by a single senator.

    Wharton has a little over 200 residents and gets represented by a single senator.

    Willets has a little under 200 residents and gets represented by two senators.

    In terms of residents per senator, Willets has roughly the same ratio as Dana and Hallowell would have had if they didn’t get combined!!

    I would really like to know the rationale behind that move…

  4. I can’t believe this is all happening again, and that this is what students are spending their time on – who cares?? Nothing ever gets/has gotten done on Student council – whatever it’s called…

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