In last Wednesday’s meeting, College Council (CC) commendably addressed proposals to restructure student government at the College. As the proposals on the table are both varied and complex, we urge CC to carefully consider what overall structure best serves the needs of the student body going forward without overly complicating an already-complex system.
CC’s decision to re-envision the role of neighborhoods on Council is necessary and worthwhile. Students identify more fundamentally with their class year than they do with their geographic location on campus, particularly because students often shift neighborhood affiliation. We view allocating positions on CC to represent the student body in terms of class year rather than neighborhood affiliation as a step in the right direction.
This shift may also help refocus the roles of neighborhoods in campus life, given that they will no longer occupy an awkward middle ground between social programming and student governance. This has the potential to forge a stronger neighborhood system focused on social planning and residential support. By drawing the line between CC as a governing body and neighborhoods as social planning entities, the neighborhoods would be given a chance to more concretely establish their own niche in student life.
In replacing neighborhood representatives, CC’s proposal to elect four class representatives for each year would allow each class’s voice to be heard more clearly and enable representation to be determined based on a much more meaningful distinction between students. However, after an election in which so many candidates ran unopposed, CC must find ways to entice an diverse group of candidates to run for election to make the new positions relevant.
The option of electing vice presidents to manage responsibilities associated specifically with community and diversity, student life, student organization and academic affairs individually also has potential, as this structure may alleviate some of the burden placed on the CC co-presidents. However, we caution against overloading these new positions in an attempt to lighten the loads of others. The current proposals indicate the vice presidents would need to be in communication with a large number of student, staff and faculty groups, and it does not seem feasible that vice presidents would be able to attend all of these committee meetings. While it could be simpler to have unofficial liaisons from each committee report to the vice presidents, concerns regarding efficient and clear communication should remain at the forefront of the discussion.
CC has the opportunity to restructure student government at the College in an unprecedented way. In determining the future of CC, Council must focus on creating a straightforward and efficient structure that accurately serves the specific needs of the College community.