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Community Council Update

By Nick Garber

Community Council met on Tuesday, March 8, and began with a brief presentation by Associate Dean for Judicial Affairs and Student Life Karen Guttentag, and Associate Dean for Judicial Affairs and Student Life AJ Place. Each year, as mandated by the College Handbook, two Community Council members serve on the committee to select the student members of the next year’s Judicial Boards.

“It’s a really interesting way to get a perspective on the community and what people’s concerns are,” Guttentag said. “Participating in this is a really exciting and enlightening lens into how the community is working and into how different members of the community experience it.”

Next, the Council welcomed Alden Cowap ’17 and Matt Witkin ’16.5, who serve as President and Vice President of the Chromatic social house. Cowap and Witkin visited the Council to propose an amendment to the Social House Fall Term Housing Policy Regulations.

The current regulations allow no more than two sophomores to live in Tavern or Chromatic houses, and no more than one sophomore to live in the Mill or Xenia; Cowap and Witkin proposed increasing these maximums to six and two, respectively.

“Social houses provide a very deliberate and diverse community experience,” Cowap said. Cowap also cited the ability of social houses to facilitate campus leadership. “By allowing sophomores to live in the house, it makes them more engaged and active members, which will lead to better leadership, and to them wanting to take on leadership positions at a younger age so we don’t just have juniors and seniors.”

In the end, the Council was convinced, and voted to approve Cowap and Witkin’s recommendation by a vote of 13 to 1, with 2 abstaining.

On Tuesday, March 15, Council members spent most of the meeting brainstorming potential projects to focus on for the remainder of the semester. Among numerous other ideas, Emma Bliska ’18 suggested instituting “protected breaks,” meaning that assignments could not be due immediately after a school vacation.

Ilana Gratch ’16 proposed allowing faculty and staff to eat at dining halls at all times. (Currently, faculty are only allowed to eat once per week with a student, and no such program exists for staff).

Vignesh Ramachandran ’18 suggested a reform of the counseling services at Parton Health Center; specifically, Ramachandran cited numerous students of color who feel that they have received inadequate counseling by the mostly-white staff. “A lot of my friends who can afford it go to counselors in town, who they rate better,” he added.

Finally, the Council reviewed a list compiled by Bliska detailing possible solutions to student stress; a continuation of the Council’s concentration on the subject during the Fall semester. The list had been compiled from suggestions made by various Council members, though each idea had not necessarily been voted on individually by the entire Council. If approved, this list would have been sent directly to the working group on stress established by President of the College Laurie L. Patton.

In the end, however, Council members expressed reservations over endorsing a document whose recommendations had never been approved individually, and elected to postpone further action until next week’s meeting.

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