This year, the Great Ideas Committee is hosting a competition for innovative ideas. The committee is encouraging students to submit their ideas until January 29, with prize incentives, as a new twist on the yearly Great Ideas campaign. The committee will then “choose five or six based on feasibility in consultation with the administration,” said Rani Mukherjee ’15, chair of the Great Ideas Committee, and students will vote on their favorites. The winner will be chosen some time in February.
There are some aspects of campus life that we take for granted that came from the innovative thinking of fellow students through the Great Ideas campaign. The campaign, which began in 2009 as a Winter Study project and has since been institutionalized as a College Council (CC) committee with both CC and non-CC members, is the original source of Superfan, 2 a.m. snack bar, Frosh Council and the bike share program. The lawn games available for rental in Schow and the video games available in Sawyer both originated as Great Ideas. Some Great Ideas, like the umbrella share, were attempted but proved impossible, in that case due to everybody stealing the umbrellas. Others, like a campus grocery, have been ruled unfeasible by the administration.
This year, the student body will have more of a say in what the committee works to execute. Because the committee will choose the five or six ideas to vote on, the chance of enacting the winning idea is at least plausible. The submitter of the winning idea will receive a $15 Tunnel City gift card, with $10 and $5 for second and third place. Mukherjee hopes this becomes an annual event.
There are two reasons that an idea might be eliminated, said Mukherjee. “Every student getting a jet isn’t feasible,” she said. “Or other people are already working on it. Also, we want originality.”
There are a number of ideas that are already being worked on or looked into. “A lot of people want hot/cold water filters [in more places],” said Mukherjee, but “they’re very expensive.” Instead, they are considering relocating some of those currently in Paresky.
Similarly, the committee is planning a student-submitted recipes dinner with Bob Volpi, director of Dining Services. Students are already allowed to submit recipes, but the committee aims to start collecting them to plan a whole dinner only from submissions. Popular recipes may enter a rotation. Also in conjunction with dining services, the committee is planning to provide sample cups in dining halls so students can try foods before getting a whole plate.
CC is also working on a couple of Great Ideas over Winter Study: They are updating both Willipedia and the video game and movie library in Sawyer. Much of the committee’s work involves redirecting ideas to more relevant committees, like the CC Dining Services committee, or talking to relevant administrators.
The committee has its own budget through CC, mostly from other groups’ surpluses. “We have a bigger budget than last year from rollover,” said Mukherjee.
In addition to the competition, the committee is also planning several events this Winter Study to promote the campaign. Today, they will be hosting a chili bar in Baxter Hall. “Give an idea, get a bowl of chili,” said Mukherjee. She emphasized that avocados would be among the toppings.