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.
The new Student Council had a public meeting for the first time this Sunday.
Campus Life Representative Lizzie Bryant ’13 gave an update on the bike share program.
Last semester, StuCo had a contract with Jeff Cao ’10 of Chester BikeWorks to repair the program’s bikes. Cao and Bryant went to visit Ray Clarke at Ursinus College, who runs the bike share program there and is now selling the program to other schools in the area. The package would provide access to Clarke as a repairman; he would also train a manager and mechanic at Swarthmore. The program could also optionally provide bikes, which would be more durable than the bikes currently being used by the program.
Cao and Bryant were impressed by the program. Moving to it, rather than StuCo’s current system, would have the advantage of being more sustainable after Cao’s tenure with AmeriCorps ends (as he might leave the area). As a larger program, Clarke has already figured out some of the details that StuCo is still trying to figure out.
StuCo President Simon Zhu ’11 suggested, though, that it would make sense to continue with Cao for this semester, and then evaluate options for the fall later on. The rest of Council concurred, and will move towards getting re-funding from SBC later this week. The program will start up again in early February.
StuCo is also inquiring with the Cycle Club about their possibly taking over bike maintenance in the future.
Academic Support Initiative
Bryant and Sean Thackurdeen ’11 gave an update on the academic support initiative from last semester, which was originally focused around the idea of a summer “bridge program.”
The members of Council working on the project collaborated with the IC/BCC Coalition, and focused on some concerns in the areas of class diversity, faculty diversity, and especially on academic support for students.
Rather than focusing specifically on a summer enrichment program, however, the students are now focusing on the issues that they see and coming up with several possible approaches toward solving them, one of which is a summer program.
The group met with administrators last semester. The primary result of that meeting was a decision to set up a committee to assist Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Diane Anderson with some of her academic support projects. The first would be an academic support website which Anderson is developing, specifically a section of advice for students on the process of asking teachers for recommendation letters, a process which some students have expressed problems with. If the committee works well, it will continue to work with Anderson on future projects.
The group will continue to consider the areas in which students feel academic support is lacking, reassess the current mechanisms for providing that support, and suggesting ways to solve those problems. They will meet with administrators again this semester.
Zhu summarized the current status of the Rollover Initiative. He described the basic problem as being that SBC budgets about $100,000 more each year than student groups actually spend; the goal of the initiative is to both reexamine the way in which this money is allocated and make use of the money that has been and will be left over.
Simply lowering the student activities fee would not be enough, because then although SBC would budget less money, presumably some of the money they did budget would still go unspent, and worthwhile projects would not be funded. After restructuring the way in which money is allocated, however, the activities fee could possibly be lowered significantly.
StuCo has decided to create a new committee which would allow students to present broad community-oriented projects not necessarily tied to a specific group which would benefit students. Zhu is in the process of drafting a concrete proposal about the committee’s guidelines and related matters; he will have it done in time to discuss at next week’s meeting.
Thackurdeen gave an update on last semester’s project to make sure that at least one cable TV was working in each dorm. According to Facilities, that has been accomplished; Thackurdeen is communicating with RAs to make sure that is the case. (The Shane Lounge TV, however, is apparently not working.)
Thackurdeen has also talked to Miyuki Baker ’12 about designing a visually appealing channel guide to be placed near each TV. StuCo agreed to request funding from SBC to compensate her for this.
Facilities has not yet replied to Thackurdeen about the TV in Lodge 5, the Jewish Student Lounge.
Last semester, StuCo compiled information about student resources on campus: from how to schedule events to Music 48 classes. The information still needs to be consistently formatted and then sent out to departments for verification. Once it has done so, it will be placed online.
Once the online version is complete, StuCo will talk about creating a printed version.
Food in the Ville
StuCo discussed last semester about the possibility of using meal points in the Ville. Members met with College Treasurer Sue Welsh last semester about this and determined that more information needed to be gathered both from restaurants and from students, about how frequently the program would be used.
StuCo is targeting Hobbs, Renato’s, and the Co-op as potential first places to implement the system. StuCo will meet with the managers of those establishments and with the administration this semester.
Campus Life Representative Victor Brady ’13 brought up the idea of building a gazebo on campus, which would be a social space for people to do work outside but also somewhat covered from the elements. He said that most colleges have at least one, and that the area near Trotter and the lilacs might be a good location. It might also be a useful draw for the weddings held on campus.
Thackurdeen suggested a “less extreme” alternative of picnic tables, along with some kind of fabric covering that could be taken down in bad weather, as another possible option.
Other members suggested talking to Stu Hain, the Vice President for Facilities and Services, about the idea, as well as Claire Sawyers, the Director of the Arboretum.
Financial Policy Representative Ben Hattem ’12 suggested that this would be a good project to bring before the new rollover committee.
- StuCo will meet with current Halcyon editors about potential ideas for scaling back its costs, given that there are continual concerns it is not worth the $40,000 that it costs annually.
- The petition for a neutrality agreement in the forthcoming Town Center West project, sponsored by SLAP and which StuCo endorsed last semester, will probably be discussed at the next Board of Managers meeting in mid-February. Student Council will communicate with the administration about it before then.
- StuCo will talk with Dining Services Director Linda McDougall about possibly rotating the bag lunch schedule, as well as potential issues with how substantial the vegetarian options in particular are.
- The laptop-sharing program will be tabled until later in the semester, when some of StuCo’s other goals have been accomplished. (The subcommittee did not meet last semester.)
- Appointments Chair Gabriella Capone ’14 discussed the idea of some way for student-driven committees to interact more with the student body, possibly through some kind of open lunch with committee members or a similar event, inspired by recent controversy over this year’s LSE. The Appointments Committee will discuss these ideas and bring them back to StuCo.
- StuCo has been discussing a redesign of its website with the SBC webmaster, to make it more accessible and usable for students.