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.
Greetings to all. I am Shaun Kelly ’10, and I am running for the office of Student Council President. We face an environment that promises to pose a number of challenges in the near future. Primarily, the Swarthmore community faces a dismal economy and must attempt to insulate the student body as well as the faculty from its effects. While considering whether or not to make a bid for I reflected on the following personal qualities, which I am convinced are necessary to the office of Student Council President:
First, the new president must not be afraid to innovate and find new ways to accomplish old goals. The new president must not be afraid to reach out, to listen not only to those who take the initiative to speak up, but to solicit ideas from those less heard from. The new president must represent the interests of all groups on campus, and as liaison to the Board of Managers must see to it that IC/BCC groups have the access and information that they need.
Second, the new president must not make changes for the sake of change. Our Student Council has accomplished much recently, ranging from the extension of library hours last year to the improved menu at Sharples very recently. The trajectory is mostly good, and the next president should be a faithful steward of those measures that work while keeping an eye toward further progress.
Third, the new president must work closely with new College President and Public Safety to attend to the security threats that face the College annually. Just this year, golf carts have been vandalized, valuables have been stolen from our dorms and libraries, and students do not always feel as safe as they should at parties or walking alone at night. The new president should work with the new administration to improve lighting in a number of problem areas on campus.
Finally and most importantly, it seems to me that the new president must have unsurpassed dedication to the position. The post of Student Council President must not play second fiddle to any other club or initiative that the president may otherwise have held in high import. These are not times that allow for mistakes, and to prevent them a president must be always vigilant and willing to research, learn and deliberate.
When I considered whether or not to run, I evaluated whether or not I could measure up to these expectations. I am convinced that I can. I must now convince you.
First, I have already started progress towards my goal to hear ideas from all corners of campus. I have met with members of many groups to have conversations about the situations facing them. These meetings have been wonderful in understanding Swarthmore in a fuller understanding of the needs of the Swarthmore Community. As president, I would continue to have personal meetings with members of every group on campus such that I could better understand the initiatives and goals of our creative group of individuals. Furthermore, I would ensure that each and every campus leader would have my personal cell phone number in case they might want to talk or have an impromptu conversation. This would allow for a level of openness and connection between Student Council and the student body that Student Council has been working toward over many cycles.
Second, I will take steps to bolster relations between campus groups and Student Council. I will work to ensure that council continues to include the opinions of all communities on campus, making sure that students of color, LGBTQ students, NOTA students, and students of political and ideological minorities are well represented. Events held by groups on campus should attended by at least one member of student council, and I will push for that to happen. I will look to make council a resource for students who have great ideas but do not know where to find the funding to make them a reality. There is funding all over campus earmarked for various types of events and activities, but understanding the bureaucracy can be intimidating at times. Student Council should become the bridge between idea and reality.
Third, I have investigated the areas on campus that appear to be especially poorly lit. With a map of said problem areas, I would like to bring together Public Safety, the administration, and SMART counselors, amongst others, to find ways to make the campus safer. Along these lines, I want to hold a meeting with the current residents of Woolman, Kyle, PPR, and Mary Lyons in particular to assess the experiences of those students’ travels and to determine what, if any, steps must be taken to ensure that all students on campus feel safe.
Finally, I will make the office of Student Council President and the job of representing your interests and concerns to the administration my sole focus for my senior year. Certainly, the push of the Swarthmore academic semester is not to be underestimated, but my energies will be focused on finding ways for our campus to remain the best in the nation. By establishing a fruitful working relationship with President Chopp and the Board of Managers, by reaching out to students of every community, and by building upon the good work of the present council, I hope to become the president that you deserve.