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.
Student Council had its first weekly meeting of the year this Sunday evening (These meetings are open to the public and are held from 8:00 until approximately 9:00 in Parrish Parlors). Council members introduced themselves and the Council’s work to students in attendance, then discussed short- and long-term goals for StuCo, talked about issues with the Bike Share program, gave updates on changes in the College’s facilities, and held a conversation about access to student email lists particularly as it pertains to the Daily Gazette and the Phoenix.
Long- and Short-Term Goals
Student Council has identified two long-term goals to look into over the course of the semester. Subcommittees will be formed for each goal.
One is the idea of a summer bridge program that would serve as extra help for students who needed it, in writing, math, or whatever other subject. Swarthmore used to have such a program; StuCo wants to investigate what such a program would look like and whether it is something worth pursuing further.
The other long-term goal is to use the SBC rollover fund, which comes from the money budgeted for student groups that is not actually spent, to establish a fund for students to propose initiatives that would benefit the whole campus. Rojas cited adding picnic tables behind Sharples as an example of what such a proposal might look like, but noted that they could potentially be anything.
StuCo has also identified many possible short-term goals, and will be distributing a survey to students by the end of the week to see which ones students would prefer for them to focus on. The first StuCo Lounge, on Tuesday the 14th at 10:00 in Paces Cafe, will focus on their short-term goals for the semester.
The Bike Share program begun last spring has run into some issues. StuCo had originally decided to contract with Lindsey Yanez, who owned the bike shop in the Ville. That business filed for bankruptcy over the summer, however, and so StuCo has lost the person who would be in charge of maintaining the bikes. Rojas has started to talk to the Chester BikeWorks student group to see if they would be willing to take over maintenance of the bikes, at least one of which needs work before it is usable.
Student Council was also supposed to receive four bikes from Yanez, and although they have already paid for the bikes have not received them. (They have received six bikes from Chester BikeWorks, as planned.) They are currently unable to contact Yanez, and are investigating avenues through which they can get the bikes that they paid for.
Several members of Student Council met with Director of Facilities Stu Hain last week. Hain gave an overview of Facilities work done over the summer, most of which was done to meet ADA requirements. Parrish and Wharton bathrooms were redone, some paths were changed, the squash courts were renovated, and ramps were added to the pool and the fitness center. Hain said that there will be similar changes made each year for the next five years to reach ADA compliance.
The College’s contract with AlliedBarton for nighttime security patrols, which caused some controversy among students last semester, has not been renewed. The College now has a similar contract with Alpha Centurion Security, a self-described “woman owned corporation” based in nearby Havertown.
Town Center West
The Town Center West project, which would include an inn, restaurant, and a bookstore in the fields between the train tracks and PPR, received a $2 million grant from the governor’s office for infrastructure work. (It is a matching grant, which means the College would also need to contribute at least $2 million.)
No developer has been identified yet, though four have expressed interest. There will be a town hall meeting Tuesday about this, and it will also be discussed at the next Board of Managers meeting.
The “takeaway message,” said Zhu, is that the project “is moving along, if somewhat slowly.”
Survey results last semester were very positive for having some food option available before 11am on Sunday. (Currently, Sharples opens at 11, and Essie Mae’s and the coffee bars do not open until the evenings.)
StuCo is looking into options for how to remedy this situation, although they are currently not sure whether that would entail some kind of continental breakfast in Sharples, one of the coffee bars being open, or what. The main price would be labor, which raised the question of whether student workers might be a good option. Hain expressed concerns about reliability, however.
The new TV in Sharples was bought, according to Hain, largely because Sharples is the only building on campus with complete backup power, so that in a power outage students could gather there and the TV would be useful as a means of communication.
Facilities would be open to the idea of moving it to a different location, if a better one were identified, or even of storing it in a closet until a power outage or emergency occurred if it proved not to be useful in normal situations.
StuCo talked to Hain about the idea of having announcements or events listing scrolling on the TV. Facilities is waiting on a small laptop to be set up and attached to the TV for it to be activated.
Hain also noted that the TV was bought out of the capital budget, so the funds would not have otherwise been available for food, labor, or Sharples’s other costs.
Access to Email Lists
Several editors from the Daily Gazette and the Phoenix were present to discuss access to student email lists.
The Gazette has traditionally automatically subscribed new students to its daily issue emails, and the Phoenix was hoping to start a similar system last semester with a weekly digest of their stories. Acting Dean of Students Garikai Campbell last semester, and new Dean of Student Liz Braun at the start of this semester, requested that neither organization automatically subscribe new students to emails until larger discussions about access to student email lists have been held.
Both newspaper presented their points of view, and students present were asked their opinions on it. Student Council elected to add this issue to the upcoming survey and then take the results of that survey to Dean Braun and others. In the meantime, freshmen who have not explicitly requested to subscribe to the Gazette will not receive email issues, and the Phoenix will not begin its summary emails.
Also at issue is Daily Gazette branding in the Reserved Student Digest emails, which are a Student Council project but run entirely by the Gazette. Further decisions on this matter were also put off until after the survey.
- If dorm TVs do not have cable, students should contact Workbox to have them fixed. (SBC pays about $6,000 a year for cable for dorm TVs.) TVs that are broken or outdated could potentially be replaced out of the furniture budget.
- StuCo will look into the issue of fridge availability in the dorms, particularly in Wharton, where many residents must go outside to access a communal fridge.
- There will be a Resource Fair sometime in the next few weeks to discuss funding sources, the chartering process for groups, and how events are planned on campus. This will be available to all students but intended especially for freshmen.
- Student Council is meeting with Liz Braun and Rebecca Chopp soon to discuss how administrative decisions are made at Swarthmore, and will convey the results of that meeting later on in a broader meeting about institutional governance.
- StuCo is considering posting its weekly minutes in bathroom stalls. It also would like to place an empty agenda in Sharples where students can write in issues that they would like Council to discuss.