SGO Discusses Possible Town Hall Formats, Senate Election, and More

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.

On Sunday, October 1st, the Student Government Organization (SGO) held an Executive Board meeting in Kohlberg 116.

The meeting began with a follow-up on the initiatives brainstormed at last week’s meeting, as well as the discussion of more general updates.

Co-President Josie Hung ‘19 spoke first, bringing up the possibility of SGO working with the Swarthmore Title IX Office, which reached out earlier this week. Though she acknowledged that it is not yet clear what this collaboration would entail, Hung expressed that she was open to the possibility.

Next, Chair of Internal Affairs Henry Han ‘20 updated the board on the progress of the upcoming Middle States accreditation process. According to Han, all but three of the seats on the accreditation committee have been filled.

“It’s just been hard because I’m not entirely sure what the time commitment is, and that’s everyone’s main issue,” Han said.

The board agreed to send the tentative list of committee members to the co-chairs while waiting on the three spots to be filled.

Co-President David Pipkin ‘18 initiated the next item on the agenda by drawing attention to a flier he had designed to promote the Senate elections happening on Tuesday, October 3rd. Pipkin made clear that the scope of SGO marketing should go beyond this.

“We don’t just need fliers, we can hang larger posters […] that can be hung in Sharples […] like the frats do,” Pipkin said. Locations with “high traffic,” such as the Science Center courtyard, were deemed important places to promote the election, in order to maximize voter turnout and competition among the candidates.

Meanwhile, the flier itself received compliments and criticisms from each of the executive board members. Some found the flier “threatening” and “hard to see,” while others “like[d] the design.”

Also discussed at the meeting was the possible implementation of a SGO town hall system. The topic was heavily debated, with board members disagreeing over how best to approach it.

Pipkin, as well as Chair of Academic Affairs Ibrahim Tamale ‘20, believed that these town hall meetings would have to revolve around large and salient issues that the Swarthmore community would care about, in order to maximize participation.

“People already interested in SGO will have had already contacted us,” Tamale argued.

Others, like Hung and Chair of Visual and Performing Arts Umi Keezing ‘19, argued that each town hall should have a “theme.” One way to go about that, according to Hung and Keezing, would be to have a single committee, such as “Diversity,” “Academic Affairs,”Student Life,” take charge of each town hall.

Chair of Student Organizations Gus Burchell ’20 and Chair of Diversity Jasmine Jimenez ‘19 disagreed with implementing any sort of structure that would impede free flowing conversation and discussion.

“Create the space, and allow that to be the resource itself,” Jimenez said. “We should speak less.”

In direct response to Pipkin’s concern about participation, Burchell argued that “people will be more likely to come… if [the town hall] is presented as just a place where the only agenda is hearing [the people’s] concerns.” He also brought up a need for advertising these kinds of events.

Some expressed concerns about this open format. “If we are going to open up the floor to people’s opinions and ideas, we should think about who’s going to moderate them,” Chair of Student Life Ivan Lomeli ’19 said.

In the end, Pipkin decided to table the discussion for next week, acknowledging the number of valid arguments for and against each idea.

After brainstorming more potential SGO events, as well as voting to form a “Constitutional Amendment Committee,” the Executive Board adjourned the meeting.

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