Presidents reflect on CC term thus far

When Kim Dacres ’08 and Morgan Goodwin ’08 took office as co-presidents of CC last March, they cited sustainability, club sports funding, diversity and student leadership as issues they wanted to focus on and influence during their time in office. Though the student community has seen few CC-driven changes related to these issues, the pair remains upbeat about their contributions to the College as they enter the final months of their term. Both believe they have met or begun to meet all of their initial goals. In addition, the presidents feel CC has reacted effectively to issues that were thrown its way.

Dacres and Goodwin cited progress towards improving club sports funding as a major success of their tenure. In September, CC officers met with Provost Bill Lenhart and Dean of the Faculty Bill Wagner to discuss coaches’ salaries and general funding issues. Though no action was taken as a direct result of the discussion, the leaders described them as productive. According to Goodwin, CC and the provost now have an improved understanding of one another’s money allocating processes. Goodwin also said that he believed salaries for coaches of club sports teams should improve in the near future, though he did not offer a timetable for the changes.

The leaders acknowledged that despite these talks, many club sport athletes remain dissatisfied with their current funding situations. “Being on a club sport is sort of like second-class citizenship in terms of athletics,” said Dacres, who is also the co-captain of the women’s rugby team. “We are trying to make the College address the basic issues that come up … like transportation, EMTs, insurance and coaches.”

Their other objectives concerning broad and ongoing issues have also been addressed primarily through discussion rather than action.

Goodwin, who is also a leader of Thursday Night Grassroots, a campus environmental group focused on combatting climate change, spoke of Council’s progress on the sustainability issue mostly in terms of conversations with administrators. “We’re looking at the library projects, talking to Steve Klass about how we can go about meeting our goals,” Goodwin said. He also noted CC’s official endorsement of the Focus the Nation, event to be held on campus this February, though he did not discuss any action Council would be taking to aid the event beyond voting to endorse it.

Dacres cited a private meeting devoted to discussing financial aid and its effects on campus diversity as an important step towards improving the College’s general understanding of the subject. “Diversity is a multifaceted thing,” she said. “It’s more than just white people versus people of color. It’s talking about how those groups interact and the financial and social factors that come into play.” To complement these efforts, Dacres said that CC has started to look into improving the 1914 Library, and hopes to use the Williams Reads program to promote a novel that will prompt discussion on diversity issues. In addition, members of CC participated in a SPARC workshop at the beginning of the year to improve their own grasp on diversity-related issues.

When asked about their goal of better supporting student leaders, Goodwin described a leadership panel held with leaders from several campus groups before the year began and well the installation of a case in Paresky’s Student Activities Suite that will contain Campus Life awards.

An ad hoc-heavy semester

Dacres and Goodwin agreed that a significant portion of the semester was spent focusing on issues that surfaced week-to-week, rather than the goals they brought into office.

“A lot of this semester has been spent dealing with stuff that’s been put upon us as opposed to our own initiatives,” Goodwin said, naming bio-cleanups, restricted dorm access and alcohol policy as the main issues that required CC’s attention. “I think getting through all of those things, we’ve helped to mediate a lot of the reactionary measures.”

Of these issues, Dacres cited the campus-wide card access vote as a major accomplishment. The issue surfaced when Doug Schiazza, director of Campus Life, proposed the idea of a dorm-by-dorm vote across campus that would allow each house to determine if they wanted to restrict swipe access to their space. CC, catching wind of the vote, interceded and took control of the referendum.

“It was a good example of CC stepping in when the rest of the student body was being left out of a decision that would affect the entire campus,” Dacres said, crediting CC for taking the vote from the control of Campus Life, the Neighborhoods and the Baxter Fellows.

The integrity of the referendum was called into question by many, as the vote was accompanied by a campus-wide e-mail from Dacres and Goodwin that contained a strong statement of opposition to the idea of restricted access.

Goodwin defended the letter. “I think it has to be acknowledged that there’s an inherent sort of convergence of roles,” he said. “We’re representing students, and at the same time we’re the leadership of the students.” Both co-presidents said that it was their first priority to deliver the results demanded by their constituents, which in this case meant ensuring the rejection of the card access motion.

Council size reduction,

reassessment on the table

Despite last year’s reduction in the size of CC by five members, Goodwin and Dacres would like to see an addition of spots by the end of their term. “We want to increase the number of class reps from one to two people, because as of right now freshmen make up a huge percentage of the Council,” Goodwin said.

This comes less than two years after a change in Council policy that eliminated 13 council positions, a move made in response to the lack of candidates in Council elections. In the meantime, 36 new student government positions were created across the four Neighborhood Governance Boards, and overlap between the two governing bodies has been the only way to keep positions filled.

Dacres and Goodwin intend to complete their term with a reassessment of CC’s goals and role on campus. “A lot of people have conceptions of Council and what we’re supposed to do, which are different from what we’re actually capable of doing and how we actually fit into the college structure,” Goodwin said.