Students, SGA Need To Cooperate To Accomplish Goals

Kevin Casey McAvery

“Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal, which takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice.” – Arnold J. Toynbee, English Historian

I want to make you passionate. I want you, the student body, to stand up and say “no” when you do not want something done. I want you to vote – for your dorm Senator, for the President of your SGA, for the President of your United States. And if you choose not to, if you choose to remain silent, to show up by the mere handful at forums with the Board of Trustees, I want you to stop complaining. While part of this year’s ambitious Student Government Association Administration, today I have been given the opportunity to speak to you as an individual, one who listens on a daily basis to the miscommunication and general disconnect between those who want things to happen and those who can make them happen. Herein, I would like to speak with you specifically about two areas on which the spotlight has been, or should be, placed: the Colgate social scene and the ongoing library reconstruction. My goals are twofold. The first is to educate you about what I know and hope that it is enough to impassion you to ask more questions, to write a letter to one of the many who know more about these topics than I, or to speak to your Senator to have your opinion openly represented. The second is to tell you the SGA’s current plans to deal with the situations at hand.

The Social Scene “Colgate is proving itself to be a strong institution, academically and athletically, but I feel as though the social standing is wavering with issues such as the disappearance of the fraternity system.” – Ellen Mittelholzer, Senator, 104 Broad Street It was a Wednesday night my freshman year, the snow just waiting to fall, paper pumpkins adorning the nooks and crannies of my dorm. My roommate was studying Chemistry at his desk when there was a knock at our door. He opened it and said, “Yeah, give me a minute. I’ll be ready in a sec.” “Where are you going?” I remember asking him. I think about this brief dialogue every now and then because during the course of the past three years, I think that the answer to that very simple question of “Where are you going?” has changed. While to me, at the time, I was wondering towhich fraternity party he was headed down to; now, I think that the answer to that question in many of your minds is quite different. Since then, a number of things have happened to change this response: the Broad Street Initiative was born; prices for caterers went up; mistrust between the administration and fraternity system developed; the University became stricter about enforcing state-wide codes; and the general culture of our campus began to evolve with the incoming classes. Each of these things has had, for better or worse, a dampening effect on a number of social options at Colgate. We are now halfway through the first semester of the 2004-2005 academic year, and I cannot help but notice how totallyacademic it feels. It is a job to find an open party on a Friday night, a job first-year do not have the prerequisites to apply for: fraternities generally refuse to publicize parties up the hill, afraid of getting a large under-21 crowd and risking their house if an accident were to occur; the Jug, for those who wish to put themselves through the experience, now allows in only 19 and over; and the expensive Palace has yet to make itself a center of activity. This is not the way it is supposed to be. Down the hill, the Broad Street Community Council, in conjunction with the individual houses, was supposed to have promoted an atmosphere of both community and enjoyment, opening up their residences to parties and gatherings of all types to the rest of the student body. Within “A Vision for Residential Education,” which every student can navigate to through the Colgate homepage, the following is stated: “Over the past academic year, Colgate has successfully experimented with [the Broad Street Community] model in several houses and plans to add nine more houses to the program this fall. The piloted program worked well. We were able to replace rules with expectations, and in doing so, we were able to create more space for students to revive a robust and vibrant social life on Broad Street…” Thus far this year, I have failed to see ONE advertised event at ANY of the Broad Street houses in our sterile “Campus Center” with the exception of DU’s COOP sheet, which was removed as a fire hazard. The “vibrancy” of Broad Street, to me, resembles nothing more at this point than a dull luster. This problem is real, and one that is not taken lightly by the administration or your SGA. We are investing heavily in not only identifying how we can aid houses on Broad Street to host catered events, but what other social options can be added to campus. While the number of “alcoholic” options has decreased over the past three years, the general number of late-night “nonalcoholic” recurring events, which one would assume would increase if the change was culture driven, have remained stationary. SGA Liaison Kaitlin LaCasse has recently taken steps to re-start the dialogue over a social fund, a one-time, short-term fund that would allow groups of students to throw a party or to relax with pizza, wings, and potato chips while watching the Red Sox lose. Also, the SGA will be suggesting to the proper bodies to better promote the already existing funding avenues, such as the Broad Street Fund, to host what could be spectacular events. This notion of short-term funding, sans the Budget Allocation Committee, is one that is vital to promote impromptu occasions and aid Broad Street in becoming a place that people not only want to live, but where people want to go.

The Library Renovation”We know very little [about the library renovation], and by that, I mean [we know] almost nothing.” – Todd Garvey, Senator, Delta Upsilon While estimates vary, there is a high likelihood of possibility that, with an estimate ranging from as early as March, Case library will be all but closed for the following two years. Less frequented books will be unavailable in storage, and the Inter-library loan system will be working in full force. Study spaces will be moved to the Hall of Presidents and the librarians to the Clark Room. Additional spaces for study areas include the Pub and residential halls, but these venues, after bringing both sides to the table, have been deemed insufficient in an of themselves, especially during high-volume periods of the semester, such as during midterms or finals, by both the SGA and Colgate administration. In open and honest discussions with our administrative partners, we have begun to work on other ideas about how we can help students get through this period as undisturbed as possible. Here are some of these preliminary plans, many of which, as should be noted, are enthusiastically supported by administrators at Colgate University: The Commons, a grossly underused space on campus, would be transformed into a premier study lounge, a four minute walk from the furthest apartment. This upcoming Tuesday, a Resolution will go before Senate to transform this area into this large study space that will contain desks, chairs, couches, wireless Internet, bright lighting, computers, an atmosphere that is conducive to work, and possibly a satellite librarian who can aide students in acquiring resources for research papers and other assignments. With its pending implementation, it is vital that you talk to your Senator and relay your sentiments on this issue, as well as whether you would prefer this to be a “quiet” study location or a more COOP-like atmosphere with the potential for a partition so that student groups can till utilize the Commons for meetings. Another project being proposed is the general “lifting” of hours on campus and off campus. This could extend studying hours at both Cooley Library and at the O’Connor Campus Center until later into the night, when students are working in full numbers. In addition, we hope to extend the hours at the Barge Canal Coffee shop during the work-week, particularly on Sunday, past its current closing time of 9 p.m. The SGA is also working on making the Pub when the time comes, a place where you can get the food you want while you study. The next project for our Student Issues Committee will be to design a feasible menu based upon student demand. The success of each of these proposals ultimately lies with you, the students, and your active participation in making a change on this campus. When you are sent Senate minutes each week, you are receiving a document that contains information that can affect your life. Read them. Respond to them. E-mail your Senator. E-mail the SGA at [email protected] E-mail me at [email protected], if you so desire. And if you are so bold and passionate about a topic, brave the cold and tent out on Whitnall or in front of McGregory or in the middle of Broad Street. But this year, I ask of you, do not remain silent. Do not let half of the student population vote for someone to represent the whole. Speak. Because before you know it, four years will be gone, and all you will have left is the regret of what you could have done.