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Core values

What Student Council should be striving for in the year ahead

With the new Executive Committee of Student Council freshly sworn in, it is appropriate at this time to express what The Cavalier Daily thinks Council should be working toward in the coming year. Council is in a unique position to address student concerns and ideas, and facilitate student involvement in the University community. It must use its position in the most efficient and effective way possible to accomplish meaningful goals in the coming year.

First, Council is in the ideal position to bring student organizations together and should use its resources to channel students’ energy instead of creating initiatives that overlap with those of existing CIOs. Council should be a place for students and student organizations to come to get their own ideas off the ground, whether through logistical support, advertising assistance, or connections to administrators or other organizations that would be interested in a project. Because Council has so many of its own projects, its members are some of the most experienced students at getting new initiatives off the ground. This capability, however, should be focused on advising CIOs that can spend more time and effort on individual projects whenever possible. Council is also a great resource for connecting with other student groups, but many students do not identify with Council or find it relevant to their University experiences. For this reason it is difficult to get students to reach out to Council and tap its vast resources for facilitation of cooperative projects and dissemination of information.

Council needs to have better mechanisms for feedback and communication directly with the student body. Council undoubtedly already knows this, but it deserves reiterating. The Cavalier Daily, along with all large organizations at the University, has similar problems with getting feedback. Council, especially, is an organization that should be reaching out to every single student at the University in a meaningful way. Student feedback and input are necessary for Council to do its job well, and students will not magically come to Council on their own. Council will have to find innovative ways to collect feedback from students. During the race for Council President, William Reynolds’ Web site proved an excellent forum for students to voice their concerns and identify those that were most important to them. This should be continued; Council must constantly look for ways to improve communication with students.

The appropriations process also needs a complete overhaul. Typically student organizations request several times the amount of funding they actually need and this is no way to dole out appropriations. Obviously the funds Council is responsible for distributing cannot meet all the requests made, but requests should be evaluated on merit and how much effort a group itself has put into fundraising before going to Council. This might make the appropriations process more subjective; if the merit of a request is evaluated by a panel of Council members, however, it should not be a problem. Council cannot continue to use this dysfunctional system at a time when every cent counts.

If Council is able to do all of these things, it will become a more efficient and effective organization that can better serve students. Last night Council President John Nelson spoke of getting back to the “core of what Council is about.” Decentralizing Council’s resources, improving communication with the student body and creating a new appropriations process will help Council reach that goal.

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