Outgoing presidents point to improved visibility and structure

After beginning their term as College Council (CC) co-presidents with a decisive mandate, Krista Pickett ’13 and Peter Skipper ’13 are now preparing to step down from their position at the helm of CC. As they exit and Adrian Castro ’14 and Max Heninger ’14 prepare to assume leadership of the Council, Pickett and Skipper reflected on their term, which among much else, oversaw changes to subgroup allocations and the restructuring of elected CC representatives.

Pickett and Skipper entered their office expecting to tackle financial concerns regarding how CC funded student organizations. “When we came into office, we assumed that funding and funding bylaws were going to be a major topic of interest for Council,” Skipper said. “So we instituted the assistant treasurer position as a way to increase transparency of what’s going on.” The assistant treasurer position was designed to alleviate some of the extensive workload of the treasurer and increase communication between subgroups and CC. Further, Pickett and Skipper worked to streamline CC financing. In particular, the pair addressed the issue of what to do with the approximately $110,000 of CC rollover money by creating a rollover task force, and passed a resolution providing for an All Campus Entertainment (ACE)-managed entertainment co-sponsorship fund. The fund would ideally allow for a more centralized system for planning events and constructing the College’s social calendar.

Having accomplished that goal, Pickett and Skipper realized that the scope of their Council would be much broader. “Over the course of the semester, we realized that funding was less of an issue and it was more about what services and supports are we providing to our student groups, of which funding is a part,” Skipper said. Pickett and Skipper then proceeded to address the situation by creating a student organizations committee, which culminated this election in the creation of the vice president of student affairs.

This same goal required Pickett and Skipper to critically evaluate the way that CC represents students and the committee structure that CC oversees. “We were really intentional about making sure that the CC we leave is in a better place than when we found it, and I think structurally we did just that,” Skipper said. “Not only is there a new structure [for CC representation], but we also appoint students to 23 or 24 different faculty/staff committees that do a lot of the policy making at this school, and previously, those students were appointed in the spring and then never heard from again. But we saw that as an opportunity to centralize in CC all of those different parts.”

In keeping with their commitment to transparency on Council, Pickett and Skipper sought to include as many students as possible in their term. “We’ve seen a change in the people who use College Council as a resource,” Pickett said. “A lot of the ideas that Council has worked on have not been generated in Council or by the two of us. CC has become an accessible and visible body.” This was critical to fostering a sense of cohesive community across campus, a goal that began with former CC co-presidents Francesca Barrett ’12 and Nick Fogel ’12 and continued into Pickett and Skipper’s term.

Pickett and Skipper agreed that one of the greatest challenges as CC co-presidents was creating protocol to fulfill CC’s goals where no such protocol previously existed. “The thing we struggled with most, mostly with concerts and with SuperFan, was how to make decisions with things for which there was no protocol,” Pickett said. “This year what we’ve done really well is to make our rules work for us.”

To this end, Pickett and Skipper worked hard to have CC address issues on campus that previously had not benefited from clear and institutionalized protocol. “Funding Macklemore, SuperFan, the Mental Health Committee, Staff Appreciation Day, working with Dining Services to make the opening of Lee Snack Bar pretty graceful, all of those are all things that speak to what the priorities of CC really are, being a part of this community,” Pickett said.

In order to accomplish their wide range of goals, Pickett and Skipper tapped into the community that CC pledges to serve. “There were a lot of issues that seemed intractable entering our presidency,” Skipper said. “We didn’t have a magic formula, but by recognizing relationships in Council and tapping into allies outside of Council and also just having a vision and believing in that vision we were elected on, we were able to achieve our goals.”