One of the most impactful decision-making bodies on campus is Students’ Council (SC), a student body intended to represent the needs of students at Haverford.
Although this representative body stands as a voice for the campus, there are many students who do not know the names of their SC representatives, what their roles are, and how they intend to make the 2017-2018 year an effective and engaging one.
“Aside from individual and group projects, our large collective goal this year is to reform and restructure Council in a way that connects it to the student body in a more efficient way,” said Saumya Varma ‘18 and Julia Blake ‘19, SC Co-Presidents. “Over the next couple months, we will be inviting students into discussions about how SC can be run more effectively.”
According to a poll conducted by members of the Clerk, out of 45 participants, only two people could correctly identify all student representatives. Also, only 31% could accurately identify the Officer of Student Life position. With this data in mind, more discussion about who the members of SC are and their role is imperative. How can members of SC be reached? How do they represent the needs of different clubs?
This article will introduce the members of SC, give voice to their goals for the 2017-2018 school year and beyond, and discuss the effective means for receiving information from them. Not everyone on SC could be interviewed for this article.
What does SC do?
As described from the experiences of board members themselves, SC is a student-run group that assists with the advancement of student activities on campus. They also seek to ensure the longevity of clubs. They control the funding of student organizations, making changes to the budget, and distributing funds to new clubs. This year there were 37 new club proposals. For the first semester, the total amount of money requested during regular budget from all clubs was $282,322.01. The total amount allocated was $214,340.53.
Last semester, SC was beginning the process of thinking about larger structural changes such as the launch of an updated website and the development of more effective ways to translate information, which may include a consolidated Google folder. They were also in the process of a transitioning to new Co-Secretaries since the resignation of the former Co-Secs. The new elected Co-Secs are Katie Leifermann ‘20 and Mariana Ramirez ‘20.
Whether it’s being attentive to student life on campus or being a voice for a specific class year, the members of the Students’ Council seek to make the 2017-2018 year an exciting and engaging one. They all have their own individual goals but come together as a collective unit to understand and work with the voices of the student body.
Jake Bernstein ‘19, Officer of Campus Life
One of important goals of SC is to develop personal relationships with students. As Officer of Campus Life, Jake Bernstein ‘19, is someone who takes a more interpersonal way to connecting with students by understanding their needs and interests.
According to Bernstein, his role is to “try to sort of represent and communicate to Students’ Council the general voice and opinions of just the student body on campus.” He also said: “It’s basically trying to stay aware of student environment, large points of discussion, large movements.”
Bernstein commits his time to staying updated on campus events and paying attention to the social environment of students. However, interestingly enough, communication between Bernstein and students does not primarily exist over email. Instead he relies on face-to-face interactions.
“Whenever I run into friends of mine or people I have just met, I will ask them how they’re doing, what’s going on, what’s on their mind, what their week is looking like,” he said. “You learn a lot about what’s going on on campus by doing that with basically everybody.”
Besides taking a social temperature of campus, Bernstein also works with the Office of Student Life to focus on the bigger social events happening, those hosted by residential life or students’ activities.
Rachel Romens ‘18, Officer of Athletics
For members of SC, addressing the needs of students with open-mindedness is very important. Rachel Romens ‘18, Officer of Athletics, said that she feels strongly that members of SC “have the best needs of the student body in mind.”
“I also think that it can be challenging when you have a position of power like that–where you’re trying to advocate for so many diverse and varying voices to make sure that you’re addressing everything, and I think that’s something that I’m particularly sensitive to,” Romens said.
As a new member of Council, Romens admits that although SC acts in the best interest of students and holds a certain level of autonomy, there are still guidelines and rules that they must follow.
“Sometimes the rules that we have in place can be hurdles for us and I think that it’ll be a learning experience for me to understand where those hurdles might lie,” she said. Romens is excited about working with SC her senior year.
Noorie Chowdhury ‘21, First-Year Representative
Perhaps one of the most enthusiastic members, and newest members not only to SC but also to the Haverford campus in general, is First-Year Representative Noorie Chowdhury ‘21. Chowdhury admits that she was unaware of the specifics and intricacies of her role until she met with the Co-Presidents. Nevertheless, she is excited about the freedom she gets with her role.
“According to the Constitution, my role is to basically represent the voice of the first year class,” said Chowdhury.“And it’s up to me how I want to do that. It’s really vague. There’s no really defined role set up constitutionally.”
Although there doesn’t seem to be a detailed description of her role as First Year Representative, Chowdhury plans on being open to discuss issues with her first-year class. Accessibility is one of those focal points. Chowdhury stresses that she wants the first-year class to understand she is available whenever they need her.
“I’ll be having office hours. I hate to call them that because that’s just so formal. But I just want to have one place where people can find me once or twice a week where people can come to me with any complaints, concerns.”
Chowdhury also wants to work with the freshman class in its entirety. She is striving to make news of events as accessible as possible. On a more intimate level she wants to address important issues that first years go through, “whether that’s being the only international student on the hall or other ways students need help adjusting to the new school.”
One of Chowdhury’s more concrete goals is to increase student involvement with students on campus.
“I feel like everyone could be a lot more engaged on campus, so I think that is going to be one of my main goals to sort of like bridge that gap between students who want to do stuff and people who are organizing stuff.” This same goal is a shared amongst SC as a whole.
Cesar Meric ‘20 and Saif Kureishi ‘20, SC Co-Treasurers
Perhaps a position on SC that has had a more defined role is the SC Co-Treasurers. This year the representatives are Cesar Meric ‘20 and Saif Kureishi ‘20. The Co-Treasures manage the budget for clubs and organizations, with the intention of making sure reasonable requests are met and hold true to the rules laid out in the constitution. Although the process of approving funds is sometimes seen as the forefront of their responsibilities, Meric and Kureishi made it a point to emphasize that it is not their only responsibility. They are dedicating time to meet with clubs to ensure that money is being properly used and concerns are being met. For instance, to support longevity of clubs, they might look at things such as attendance.
In addition, Meric mentions that their job is to engage with the entirety of the campus community, not just club members. One way they do this is by meeting with Rufus M. Jones Committee (RMJ) to talk about campus wide events. Meric said: “It’s a fund that’s reserved specifically for campus wide events that anyone, not just clubs, has access to by making proposals, which they can find the link to the form online.”
In terms of reachability, the Co-Treasurers have made it a point to be more available this year than in previous years. Their office hours are on Tuesday and Thursday in the Student Engagement office in Stokes 022. Also, an intern in Student Engagement office, Kiamani Wilson, has office hours Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Thus, a large part of their goals as Co-Treasurers, is to check in on clubs and not simply be a distant administrative force.