We Are Your Senators, and This Is What We’ve Been up To

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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.

Dear Swarthmore Students,

Our names are Gilbert Orbea and Salima Bourguiba, and we are the 2019 Class Senators. We ran for Student Government to have an impact. We understand how difficult it is to know what the senators and government have done. It must feel like you elect them as a formality with little meaning or actual results, but this should not be the view of Swarthmore Student Government or its senators. SGO and our senators are committed to raising important issues and working for our student body. That is why we want to share with you what we’re going to be tackling this year. Unfortunately, these aren’t promises, as there are limits to what we can do. They are, however, guidelines detailing what we as your senators are fighting for, the questions we are asking, and what you have been requesting. This is what we are working on for you.

Last year, our Student Life committee—of which we are a part—began talks about a SEPTA subsidy program. Currently, Swarthmore only reimburses travel necessary for classes. We envision, however, a program that makes it more affordable for students to visit the areas around them without cost being a concern. Many colleges around us, including University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Drexel University, already offer discounted fares. We want to continue this conversation to bring affordable transportation to and from Philadelphia for all Swarthmore students. Income should not be a limiting factor in our ability to get around.

We will continue to work with the Matchbox to improve our facilities and promote student health, which would include having weekend hours match weekday hours at the Matchbox. In the spring, we hope to have a survey available for Swarthmore students to fill out. This survey will gauge student interest and need for consistent Matchbox hours every day of the week, among other things.

We have heard your input on the changes to Essie’s, including the removal of a lunch or breakfast option for a swipe. We want to see why these changes were made and if they are negatively impacting student life here at Swarthmore.

Similarly, our meal plans are new and still require fine tuning. We want to know why people on the unlimited meal plan cannot eat at Sharples and get some takeout, or why points are divided as they are. It’s also important that we continue discussions on food quality and the availability of certain food options. These are just some of the questions we need to ask when discussing how the meal plans and food at Swarthmore can better reflect student need.

We want to foster more collaboration between groups—especially when they host study breaks. SGO heard the student body loud and clear when they said they want more ways to take off some of the academic pressure Swarthmore places on us. We want to have more study breaks that run the gamut from fun events and innovative activities to simple comfort foods and healthy snacks. A key goal of ours is to have SGO study breaks in conjunction with campus groups to raise awareness about both SGO and student groups.

Finally, we are working on the implementation of free menstrual hygiene products in time for the spring semester in most non-residential areas. We have seen what our peer institutions like Brown and NYU are doing and we must follow suit. This is in pursuit of a truly “cash-free” campus that meets a demonstrable student need.

These are just some of the things that we want to do. There is much more than we can fight for, ask about, and work on. These are not guarantees, unfortunately, but they are our way of facilitating dialogue with the student body about what we are doing for Swarthmore students. We encourage anyone who has ideas, comments, or feedback to reach out to either one of us as we continue pushing on these points.

Thank you for putting faith in Swarthmore Student Government. We hope to have good news in the coming months!

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