The College Republicans
A large contingent of eight College Republicans attended Student Council’s meeting yesterday, including C.R. President Justin Shaffer ’08 and Treasurer David Pupkin ’09.
They raised a collection of issues they hoped the Council could address, focusing on board space in the main Parrish hallways and their concerns related to the flyer-debate that raged across campus last week.
Later this semester, the group also plans to run faculty workshops on political correctness and diversity of ideas. Shaffer said that the group “wants to have an open dialogue, not necessarily on one specific issue, but political identity in general on campus.” The College Republicans aspire to host a Conservative Awareness Day, mentioning chalkings, shirts, and more.
The Council was interested to hear the plans, and President Peter Gardner ’08 was particularly taken with the faculty discussion. Still, at the close of the Council meeting several members expressed concerns that the Council not be seen as endorsing any political agenda, which could limit Council support for the Republicans or Democrats.
After significant discussion and hearing testimony from Student Budget Committee Manager Giannina Esquivel ’08, Student Council decided to table their amendment and start working with SBC, SAC, and other groups to facilitate further flexibility within SBC.
Esquivel presented three main points of opposition to the plan. (You can see last week’s discussion of the amendment here.) First, she argued that the amendment would give final say to Student Council on every financial decision, which would effectually trivialize SBC. Second, SBC has information that Student Council does not, and giving the Council too much flexibility could lead to legal issues. Third, she argued that the plan gives students an incentive to appeal every decision SBC makes, which could overload SBC and Student Council.
Vice President Sven Udekwu ’08 also reminded the Council that “it is easier for Student Council’s biasses to come into play than SBC’s,” because SBC is an organization based on precedent.
Campus Life Representative Andrea Cornejo ’09 wondered if there was any public listing of the precedents which form the bed rock of SBC’s decisions. Esquivel explained that the precedents are passed down within the committee. This comment appeared to disturb several members of the Council. Financial Policy Representative Sarah Roberts ’09 suggested that the entire process should be demystified, particularly encouraging SBC to run some kind of campus-wide informational event co-run by the Council.
The debate clearly and rapidly went in SBC’s favor. Even Campus Life Representative Alyssa Work ’08, the original author of the amendment, came out against the amendment.
“I’m not in love with this amendment. I think the purpose is that we have this discussion and talk with SBC about how you are making this appeals decision. … I really appreciates that you guys are working on making it explicit to students on what is expected. I just think there could be some flexibility on percentages in funding decisions. There is always an element of human error. I would like if there was something we could talk about that would involve a small change in the bylaws.”
Board of Managers Meeting Update
The Gazette will be carrying more coverage of this event in later issues.
The Council discussed exactly how much information is available to the general student body, and the general consensus was that they simply weren’t sure. The school’s budget was set over the weekend, but most of that information is not available to students or needs to be cleared first.
The most public section of the proceedings came from the planning meetings. The Council has a large report which it will be distributing to students shortly. Work described the report as “like the 9/11 Commission Report, big, interesting, but no one really wants to read it.”
The previously discussed idea of placing more students on the committees was also rejected. According to Gardner, the consensus of the committee chairs was that students numerically far out-weighed the rest of the constituencies in the committees, and more involvement was unwarranted, particularly since the committees would officially end at the end of the semester.
Finally, an anonymous donor decided to give Swarthmore students 10-to-1 matching funds for any money raised for the move to no-loans. The exact details of the proposal are not clear–Gardner could not specify the maximum amount of money the donor would be willing to donate, nor could he clarify if donations by parents would also be matched.
Still, he stressed that this decision set Swarthmore apart from other schools. “We are the only school … that is including the student body as a whole,” he said.