I have been going to Student Life Committee meetings just about every week now for a year as a TKS reporter. The committee does not usually “do” things worth writing weekly stories about, but the meetings are useful for knowing what issues are coming up. Weeks before things turn up in Senate or elsewhere on campus, SLC talks about them and discusses how to present them to the campus (with their spin). Anyone interested in campus politics would do better to attend SLC meetings than Student Senate.
The meetings of the committee are usually open and are held every Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the McClelland Room in Seymour Union (back by the Davidson Room across the hall from Ferris Lounge). For much of this past year, I have been the only non-Student Senate student at these meetings, though several other students started attending this winter and spring.
I have been fairly consistently shocked this year by the committee’s lack of touch with the student body, especially those not in positions of power. Over and over in the buildup to the Greek issue, I heard them assure themselves that students do not divide themselves according to Greek lines and that students are not concerned with Greek life on campus. As it turns out, many students are concerned. It was not lost on me that Xavier is the Greek advisor on campus and, as chair, is the leader of committee conversation.
This is just one example where I felt that the committee was not concerned with the non-powerful students on our campus.
When I started attending these meetings, Xavier welcomed me and said that in his years as chair, the committee had only gone into executive session once or twice. This year they have gone into this closed meeting format over five times. Many of these meetings were concerning the creation of their Greek Report, which has since received much criticism from faculty and students alike. Another such closed session was called so the committee could discuss the TKS sports column with Robin Ragan, the chair of the Broadcast, Internet and Publications Board, which acts as our publisher.
More recently, the committee added an agenda item concerning “press presence” at their meetings without giving me warning of this discussion. I agreed to have the discussion off the record (otherwise they would go into executive session, they said). They proceeded to express their anger over an opinion column by Brian Camozzi that did not present their committee in the way they would have liked and suggested that we (TKS and the committee) should have an understanding of some kind or they will have to continue going into executive session. READ: If TKS does not publish things that make the committee’s job easy, they will kick TKS (and any other non-member) out. I have never written about a conversation that was off the record, but the committee’s threatening of press access was a huge abuse of their power that needs to be known.
I urge the faculty, as a student observer who has watched this committee for the past year, to revisit the resolution they proposed this week and vote yes for the change of chairs and no for the extra faculty member (it really is cool that students out-number the faculty on the Student Life Committee). I am not saying this because Xavier is completely to blame for this committee’s problems. He’s not. But a regular change in chairmanship could bring a lot of new voices and new parts of campus into this influential position, and that would be a good thing for the committee and student life.
At the same time, I urge the students to reconsider how they select their student representatives. The Senate executive board is automatically our representatives, and this might not be the best way to do it. Perhaps our cultural centers and clubs could have representatives in addition to the Senate representation.
More voices need to be heard in this very important committee. You can start by attending their meetings, but the structure of the committee could certainly use a facelift.
— Tom Fucoloro, Editor-In-Chief