STUDENT POLICY COMMITTEE

14-September 1998, 9:30 PM

Converse Red Room

President Tom Gray called the meeting to order at 9:34 p.m. He began by asked Corresponding Secretary Anna Bender to take roll call, which she did, while including '80s movie humor to break up the monotony of the task.

Tom began then made his opening remarks. He thanked everyone for attending and, rather than making a lengthy address, chose to refer the SPC to his and Vice President Rebecca Stair's upcoming column in _The Student_. He noted that it would focus on the role of the SGO. The student government should and must be the voice of the student body, but few students take it seriously or see it as legitimate.

Tom then made remarks about the SGO retreat. The retreat, which ran from September 1st-3rd, was a major success, he noted. It used a new format, created by Rebecca Stair and Recording Secretary James Dubick, which challenged the SGO to examine its image and to set goals and areas for improvement.

Tom then presented the plan for upcoming elections. Open offices are the Class of 2002 President and College Council Representative, and the Class of 1999 President. Elections statements and petitions are due on September 22nd, and elections will be held in Valentine during meals on September 24th.

Tom called for Committee Reports.

Class of 2000 President Rajah Menon said that he was planning a class barbeque and hoped to plan class trip to Boston or New York City.

Class of 2001 College Council Representative Vanessa Olivier said that she plans to explore possible new book scholarship programs. Financial aid provides book money to some students in their first year, but none in consecutive years, despite the fact that books often cost more for upperclass students.

The Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid reports that the Committee is reviewing plans to redesign the Viewbook. Also, the school is in search of a new Dean of Admissions. The Admissions Office is also redesigning the application scoring system.

The Committee on Educational Policy is tackling a number of issues, they reported. They will be discussing reduction of class size, the need for improvements in the first year advising program, and restructuring of Interterm. Also, they will be addressing the fact that Honors given vary greatly between departments. Eventually, they will also discuss grade inflation.

The Committee on Discipline will be looking at ways to change the policy for Dorm Damage. They would like to see bills sent to students, rather than being sent home. There was $60,000 of dorm damage last year. Also, they will be discussing creating a policy specifically dealing with email harassment.

The Committee on Priorities and Resources will be discussing parent education explaining why college costs so much.

The Committee on Physical Education and Athletics will be looking to create a sort of "booster club" to engage in "peppy" school spirit events and to help fundraise for athletic teams and clubs. After the renovations are finished to the gym, the will look at ways to improve the PE classes offered, to create more PE classes and have them offered at times when students can attend. Also, they will be looking to communicate with Williams and other schools, as well as with the student body, to discuss the changes to NESCAC. They might also begin a regular meeting of Team Captains.

The Security Advisory Committee will be looking at improvements to lighting on the Hill, at the effects on new locks on the Triangle, and at security in the more distant O'Connell and Hills parking lots.

The Library Committee will be working with Vanessa to look into a book scholarship program.

The Trustee Advisory Committee on Student Life is hoping to address as many issues as possible with the Trustees this year. The main problem they encounter is that Trustees think in the long term about improvements to the school, while students want changes to occur right away. Committee member Scott Kerns also said that he is working on a couple of other SGO projects. In particular, he wants to see more couches added to Schwemm's and the Campus Center atrium to make both areas more conducive to student relaxation and socializing. However, he needs to find a source of money for couch purchases.

The Advisory Committee on Honorary Degrees has chosen some graduation speakers and currently seeking nominations for the remaining speakers.

Tom presented the Ad Hoc Committee on SFC Reform, which Jon Prokup is spearheading. Kristen Johnson, Rajah Menon, Amy Friedman, and all of the SFC sub-chairs volunteered to be on the Committee.

Once again, an Ad Hoc Valentine Review Committee has been created to pursue changes in the dining hall. Esther Rodriguez volunteered for the Committee.

Rebecca Stair will be leading an Ad Hoc Housing Committee to discuss residential life issues, such as the ever-popular cable questions. Rachel Bobruff, James Dubick, Debbie Cook, Johnnie Odom, Mark Villaverde, Tom Slater, Brian Orach, and Josh Block all volunteered for the Committee.

Rebecca then proposed her new policy on office space allocation. There are approximately a dozen offices on campus for student groups controlled by the SGO, and next year several more should open up. Her policy would judge a group's need on things such as the size and nature of the group and then give out space accordingly. She called for suggestions and comments. The offices in question are in Pond basement, the Campus Center, and, soon, Pratt basement. Part of Rebecca's proposed policy would be to review the office's use each spring.

Conrad Risher asked why office space might be revoked. Rebecca explained that space could be revoked if a group was not making effective use of their office.

Johnnie Odom pointed out that the groups most in need of space already have offices, so that the policy for revoking groups would probably rarely be used.

Conversation continued for a great while. Conrad proposed that offices be given out with one-year leases. Kristen proposed that they be given out on five-year staggered leases. Josh Block proposed that the Review and Recognition Committee do the office space review rather than having the Student Life Committee do it.

Flori Fischetti made a motion to table the discussion until Rebecca could revise the proposal based on suggestions, and Brian Orach seconded. The motion passed 19-10-3. Business tabled.

Tom opened the floor to New Business, then began with his own. He called the question of whether we should actively invite faculty members to SPC meetings. The Constitution states that they are welcome to attend, but we have rarely extended an invitation to them. Faculty presence could potential add experience and insight to discussions, but it also might be intimidating to have them at our meetings.

Johnnie Odom proposed that we send them a mailing at the beginning of each semester to remind them that they are invited, and then send agendas each month to those who express and interest in attending.

Adam Lessler argued that we should note on our web page that meetings are open to faculty, and leave it at that.

Ned Friend argued that we should not invite faculty to our meetings because SPC meetings are poorly run and boring. Tom noted that their presence may encourage us to improve the quality of our meetings.

Brennan Griffin made a motion to send a letter to all faculty at the beginning of the semester reminding them that they are invited to SPC meetings, to be followed by agendas monthly to interested professors. Brian Orach seconded. Motion passed 30-2-0.

Tom brought up another piece of new business. He proposed that, instead of mailing the SPC agenda to all students, that it be emailed to the student body in the all-campus emails.

Brian Simoneau noted that it would be useful to send the agenda to Resident Counselors to post in the dorms. Vanessa said that agendas could be left in the post office so that interested students could take one.

Vanessa made a motion to vote on the proposal, seconded by Brennan. The motion passed 28-2-0.

James Dubick presented an item of new business. Student groups, including MASSPIRG and ASAP, were going to be running a voter registration drive on campus in the next few weeks. They wanted the SGO's endorsement to add legitimacy to the drive. They also wanted SGO members to volunteer for the drive.

Tom called for a voice vote to endorse the drive. The 'ayes' won handily.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:14 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

James Dubick

Recording Secretary, SGO.