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.
Hello, my name is Sonja Nicole Spoo and I am running to be the Student Council Appointments Chair. In my short time at Swarthmore, I have been inspired by the passion, heart and true love of life and learning displayed by all of you students here. Everyone at Swarthmore has a say and a vote in what goes on in the school. Student government plays an integral part in presenting and advocating that voice to the administration and to the student body as a whole. While Student Council has done an excellent job so far in representing the student body, there is still some room for improvement.
The main job of the chair is to fill committee seats and organize new committees. Thus, the chair must be in contact with the committee heads and deans on a constant basis. The chair also interviews candidates for positions, reads applications, and updates the website during appointments time. Last but not least, the chair is a liaison between the student council and the committees.
Through my past experience with leadership in high school and my community, I have acquired many of the essential skills necessary for the position and am the ideal candidate for the position. In high school, I served on the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Commission in my city. I was in charge of producing and anchoring the city’s teen news program as well as being a voice between the Mayor of my city and the youth. On the news program, I had to be able to multitask and organize well in order for the show to function properly. This included scheduling interviews, setting up the studio and prepping the other hosts. One important aspect of my job was interviewing teens, government officials and everyday citizens on issues pertinent to the community. The skills I learned from these interviews will be of particular use for the Appointments Chair since interviewing potential committee candidates is a large part of the position. I also served on student council at my school and was the president of several clubs and organizations including National Honor Society, Mock Trial, and Speech and Debate.
At Swarthmore, I serve on the Admissions and Financial Aid Committee. Being on this committee has given me real insight to the inner-workings of admissions and the school itself. Additionally, it has given me the experience of the committee selection process from a candidates prospective which I think is a crucial perspective to have as Appointments Chair.
- The issues discussed in committees are important and affect the whole student body. However, there is currently no outlet for this information or an interplay between the committtees and the student body. As Appointments Chair, I would work to see that this changes immediately. One way to do this would be to increase the interaction between Student Council and the committees outside of appointments time. Each committee would have a secretary to record the minutes of the meetings and the important points on budgeting, etc. While many students know of committees such as DAC or Admissions, they are unaware of the nature and extent of their work or of the decison making progress. I propose creating a section of the student council website dedicated to the committees and their minutes and decisions. In this way students can know what, for example, exactly DAC is considering. The Gazette covers some of the committee meetings, but overall, the committees are in the background of student life. I would like to help change this.
- While committees are an important and powerful part of campus life, they are not well publicized and many people do not know how or what the committees do, or how to get on a committee. To fix this problem, I propose that as Appointments Chair, I would work in tandem with the Campus Life Representative to get out the word on the committees and vacancies. This could include posting fliers, holding forums, sending emails, chalking etc. My goal is to make the committee selection process more open and competitive so that way everyone can be fully and equally represented if they so choose.
- As Appointments Chair, I would be sure to post the new committee members in the Gazette, Phoenix and on the Student Council website. Students would be able to contact the committee members with their concerns,comments and suggestions.
If elected to be Appointments Chair, I will work to the fullest of my abilities to see that these goals are accomplished. As with all things, I will need the student body’s help and support. When these proposals go into action, it will be the students responsibility to be interactive with the committees. I will work to make sure students have all the resources and knowledge they need to make inform decisions and take firm stances.
Although I am a freshman, I understand the great responsibility that comes with this position. The great thing about Swarthmore is that no matter what class you are, you are able to have a voice and be involved. Not only will I advocate for freshmen, but for upperclassmen as well. If elected, I will make Student Council and the committees more interactive with each other and the student body.
I hope to have the pleasure of serving our wonderful community. Thank you for your time and consideration!