College Council sets agenda for the new year

Despite delays imposed by House Representative elections, this year’s College Council recently approved student organization budget allocations and has begun work on issues such as NCAA participation, class size, Goodrich, and the 1914 library system.

The budget College Council approved last week distributed a total of $242,146 to 62 student organizations falling into seven major categories, such as arts, spirituality, and athletics. The money, which was raised for the Council through the student activity tax, was roughly divided up among the subgroups by the Council treasurer Anh Nguyen ’99 and a four-member Financial Committee.

The Committee looked over each groups’ self-audit from the previous year, which includes how much of the Council’s allocation last year was spent and how it was spent, and decided approximately how much money to allocate to each group. The treasurers of all the organizations in each subgroup met with the Financial Committee and the Council Treasurer to work out specific funding for each group.

Many of the votes that dealt with funding issues passed 22–0. According to Ami Parekh ’01, at-large representative for the class of 2001, “The votes on the budgets were preceeded by a large amount of discussion. In the discussion amendments would be added, so that by the time the vote came around pretty much everyone was in agreement.”

The other votes, which dealt with recognition of organizations on campus, also passed easily. “As far as recognition goes, it’s fairly obvious,” Parekh said. “And again, we have a lot of discussion, which would account for why the votes were not close.”

“This [meeting] encourages groups to go in together on events, and save money,” said Kate Ervin ’99, the co-President of College Council.

The entire Council then votes on these budgets, usually approving the decisions of the Financial Committee and the group treasurers.

“[The council as a whole has] the ultimate say,” Ervin said. “We can change things, add money, take away money, and occasionally we do . . . For example, this year the debate team got $700 or $900 less than they asked for. We thought it was too much money for too few members of the Williams community.”

Now that the budget has been approved, College Council can begin work on the many projects on this year’s agenda. “The agenda we’ve set for the year addresses many of the issues we set in the spring, plus many that have been brought up by students,” said Will Slocum ’99, co-president of the College Council.

The Council is not yet fully representative of the student body, in that first-year representatives have not yet taken part in CC meetings. According to Parekh, Frosh Council elections will take place this week.

One of these original issues is class size. “Class size alone keeps us mired below Amherst and Swarthmore in U.S. News’s college rankings,” Council Secretary Bert Leatherman ’99 said. “I was disturbed to read that, in comparison to Williams, relative giants like Princeton, MIT, and Chicago have a larger percentage of classes with fewer than 20 people and better student-faculty ratios.”

“We to want make the administration aware that students want smaller classes,” Slocum added. “There are currently no plans to decrease the size of the student body or increase the number of faculty … We’re going to gradually apply the pressure when needed to make a change.”

Dean of the College Peter Murphy agreed on the importance of class size.

“It is a subject of interest to the College in general, and so it is interesting to me,” he said. “I am also a member of CEP, which has taken up this subject. At the moment, I think every Senior Officer of the College, and the President, thinks of this as an important issue that we need to work on this year.”

Another major focus of this year’s council will be NESCAC’s NCAA policy set by the President’s of the NESCAC colleges last year. “We’re operating on the assumption that no decision is ever final,” said Ervin. “We have extraordinary support for full NCAA participation among students, faculty, and alumni.”

Although the Williams administration is “on our side,” as Ervin put it, the problem lies with other schools who have not mobilized support. “We are going to work on getting other campuses involve and push them toward a common consensus,” Slocum said.

Leatherman explained, “We’ll be calling student-government leaders, team captains, and friends throughout the conference. Hopefully, we can send a message to the presidents of NESCAC schools that students want their teams to be able to strive and succeed without restraint.”

Leatherman will also be working for improvements within the framework of the current limited policy; specifically, allowing sports teams to go to national tournaments during exams. “Flexibility for teams during exams is a concession the presidents of NESCAC recommended that each school consider in light of how much the new NESCAC policy eliminating open bids to the NCAA tournaments restricts athletes’ opportunities,” Leatherman said.

The new student center in Goodrich Hall is also under the control of College Council, and its first year will require the Council’s constant attention. “We want to make sure it works and make sure it fits student needs,” Slocum said. “We’re still ironing out Goodrich policies,” Ervin added.

Much of this attention will focus on Goodrich’s financing. To cover the building’s start-up costs, the Council has taken out a deficit account with the Dean’s Office. The proceeds from the coffee bar will be used to pay off this account and eventually make Goodrich a self-sufficient building.

Murphy said, “The account that Goodrich is using is not ‘in the Dean’s Office,’ it is an account, among the general accounts of the College, that is based on an understanding that there will be expenses as well as income, and that those might not happen at the same times of year. We would look for the account to balance out at the end of the year, or perhaps after two years. I don’t think that this sort of account somehow compromises the independence of Goodrich, except in the same way any part of the College is not simply independent.”

The Council also hopes to integrate Goodrich into Williams life. “We’re going to work with SAC to get a lot of events that will attract students to the space,” Ervin said.

Goodrich is also the home of the new College Council office, providing another incentive to lure students to the building. “I felt like we were a lot more visible in Baxter,” Ervin said. “But as Goodrich becomes more a part of student life, College Council will be right there. It’s more of a challenge to get people to Goodrich.”

Murphy said, “I think that the people running Goodrich are doing a spectacular job. It is really hard, and they have been working really hard. They are setting up systems that will make it easier in the future, but are a killer to create. So I am really proud of them all.”

The Council also hopes to tackle the 1914 library system. Liz Lee ’01, a College Council member, will be leading the project. “Financial aid students who need to get books generally pitch a tent the night before … and camp out until it opens at 8:00 am,” Lee explained. “The 1914 Library Committee, made of CC reps, the director of 1914 Library, and a few other dedicated students, have been working, since last semester, to change this procedure.”

In addition to these major projects, College Cou
ncil has a host of other plans that have not yet taken final form. These include midnight basketball in Lasell, a Winter Study internship program, a master calendar of campus events, a shuttle service to Stop and Shop and Wal-Mart, changes to the meal plan, and a Winter Study bus trip to Montreal.