CC to focus on student advocacy and projects

Student advocacy will be the number one priority of College Council (CC) this year, according to co-presidents Ching Ho ’03 and Mark Rosenthal ’03. Ho and Rosenthal said they want CC to move away from the structural debates over by-laws of the past.

Perhaps the most unique feature of the new government, however, are the projects that each representative must pursue. According to Scott Grinsell ’04, the class of 2004 representative, after the election of Ho and Rosenthal, CC projects became a strong focus of the new administration.

One change students might already have noticed include the Pedestrian and Driver Safety Proposal, spearheaded by CC treasurer Mike Henry ’04 and implemented over the spring and summer, featuring a radar-controlled crosswalk across Route 2, rumble strips on College roads and more speed limit signs. A project whose effects will be felt directly by many students is the reform of the voucher system in the 1914 Library. Unused book vouchers will now be put to use buying books that are often out of stock, which will help to avoid shortages.

Other projects for the year include an overhaul of Dining Services, which stems from a comprehensive survey headed by Ho. Ho is working closely with Bob Volpi, the new director of dining services, to make changes in the areas that were rated worst: ethnic cuisine, flavor and taste, and vegetarian and meat dishes. Volpi is working to bring in guest chefs to work on vegetarian and ethnic cuisine and an executive chef to work with Williams chefs for training purposes.

Grinsell’s project, which he began last year as a house representative, includes attending the Williamstown Board of Selectmen’s meetings and acting as a liaison between the College and the town. According to Grinsell, tension has historically existed between the town and the students over issues such as changes in parking regulations, enforcement of alcohol laws, and the closing of the campus bar. The tension exists in part because students have been unaware of the impending changes. Grinsell said improved communication will ease the problems between the town and the College: “I’d really like to see a better relationship between the town government and the student government,” he said.

Representative Brendan Docherty ’04 said he is spearheading a number of athletics-oriented projects; his main focus is on persuading the College to build a turf field on Cole field. Docherty said that the fields would benefit the student body.

“This will greatly help out IM sports as in the spring, as the conditions for IM sports are pretty bad and its hard to get them started before mid April because fields are just too saturated with rain, and by then the season is already half over,” he said. “This will also help out in the winter time, as there is a time crunch in the field house. Hopefully on milder winter days teams will be able to play on the fields.”

At the moment, the project has the support of both President Schapiro and Athletic Director Harry Sheehy. Docherty is also working on other, smaller projects such as getting gym hours set and visible and working with the deans to try to alleviate traffic problems around Cole Field during games.

Representative Ricardo Woolery ’05 said he is concerned that currently many students are unaware of the immeasurable wealth of opportunities offered by the Deans Office and Office of Career Counseling through internships, study away programs and fellowships. Consequently he will be working to increase events where the function and programs of these offices can be promoted and explained. Other projects include Federico Sosa ’04 designing a universal class ring to promote class unity, and a first-year “Hint Book” for incoming first-year students.

Besides projects, other items on CC’s agenda include passage of a streamlined CC constitution, a project completed by the previous administration and renovations of athletic facilities. The constitutional changes were voted down by the student body at the April 2002 elections, but CC members feel they should be given another chance. “The past administration put a lot of work into the constitutional changes, but the constitution question got lost in the election,” Rosenthal said. “We need to inform and advertise about the changes.”

One of CC’s most important jobs of is overseeing on-campus student organizations. These organizations are funded through the $280,000 accumulated through the Student Activities Tax, which is sourced in a $144 deduction taken from each student’s tuition. The CC Financial Committee meets and allocates money from the Student Activities Tax to specific subcommittees, such as Campus Services, Arts or Activities. These subcommittees in turn allocate funds to each student organization. In order to ensure that all student groups that collect money from the Student Activities Tax are accessible to every student, each organization must table in Baxter once per year to retain CC recognition. According to CC leaders, this is another example of the new direction the Council is taking in increased student advocacy.

When asked about CC’s goals for the year, Rosenthal said he wants to “have CC be visible through its accomplishment of projects, for the students to be able to see and feel its impact, and to know we’re working for them.”