Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Today the Student Governance Task Force released their report to campus. I thought their findings were more or less on target, but I wish that they were more radical in their aims. Some of the suggestions are similar to my campaign proposals during my run last week for VP, most notably the call for a "Governance Council". Here are some thoughts:

- I like the "Governance Council" idea, but I wish that it had some true authority over member organizations. In particular, I think that my proposal for flexible Student Activity Fee distribution (i.e. distribute some of the money as the year goes on) was quite strong, and would have increased the efficacy of student government.

- I support the proposal to consolidate SA committees. The Student Life, Student Organizations, and Alumni Affairs committees are definitely weaklings compared to Academic Affairs and Student Services. I've served on most of them and there is definitely a difference in workload.

- The proposal to eliminate the Communications Committee really confuses me. One of the biggest complaints about Student Assembly in this election season was its lack of communication with campus. I really think that the committee can be much more than simply making posters, instead looking for ways to truly connect SA with the rest of Dartmouth. Kapil Kale was the head of the Communications Committee before serving on this Task Force; in his absence the committee has been basically abolished. I know that Kapil was really enthusiastic about the committee when the year started, and its surprising that he leaves so pessimistic about its potential.

- As far as I understand, COSO is chaired by Eric Ramsey, the Associate Director of Collis. If the Governance Council is implemented as proposed, then an adminstrator would be leading the financial wing of the overall student government every spring, which strikes me as strange.

- It's really too bad that the task force didn't propose completely overhauling the structure of student goverment organizations. Most students have no faith in the system. Why not try something new, something very different? I do believe that this proposed changes will be beneficial, but they won't fix any of the fundamental problems. Despite the risks of anarchy, I wholeheartedly believe that Shpeen-led revolution would have been far more effective.

Also, check out a DartWire blog posting from Laura Little and Adi Sivaraman, two of the task force members.


Anonymous said...

You're not the only one who wishes some of the reforms had been more radical.

Laura Little said...

I agree-- I wish we had more ability to overhaul the system. The problem is pushing reform through bastion institutions that are self-interested: COSO, PB, and the UFC, in particular.

I would like nothing more than to see a highly efficient, overarching structure, like at Harvard or other similar institutions. The problem is the decentralized nature of Dartmouth (the fraternities do much to instill this tradition); students like ownership over smaller organizations they can navigate rather than one centralized power structure. Many Dartmouth students and student leaders were skeptical a larger allocations body could be effective and representational.

The bottom line was practicality. It would be absurd to recommend reforms that have, at this point, no way to pass into reality.

Hopefully future student bodies/SA will move increasingly toward centralization and systemic overhaul.