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The Great Idea Campaign

Hey Campus,

College Council is proud to announce:
CC’s Great Idea Campaign!

Do you have an idea to improve Williams student life? Need funding?

CC’s Great Idea Campaign is a competition looking for the best ideas for improving student life at Williams. Anyone with a great idea can win!

Submit a 200 word project proposal no later than Friday, November 13 to 10ebb at williams.edu, and you could win CC funding and support to get your project up and running.

What kinds of project ideas are acceptable? The project should be designed to improve some aspect of students’ lives at Williams, but the rest is up to you. Have an idea to improve dorm life? What about social programming? Some example projects from the past include: the textbook reserve program, the former bike share program, and concert funding.

Once again, please submit your 200 word proposal to (redacted for spam prevention) by November 13.

Let the games begin!

Sincerely,
Your College Council

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More Co-Ops

College Council C-President Michael Tcheyan ’10 asks:

What are your thoughts on a new Co-op? College Council is exploring the option of a new Co-op and we want your input!

Needless to say, the co-ops are one of the best aspects of Williams housing. Every student in the thread votes “Yes.” Comments:

1) My Vision for Williams Housing (pdf) would significantly improve housing at Williams. This evidence of co-op popularity supports my Assumption #2.

2) Back in the day, co-ops were less popular for, I think, two reasons. First, there was much more emphasis on the “co-op” part of the exercise. For example, co-op students were not allowed (at all?) to be on the meal plan. That is no longer true. (Are there any restrictions on co-op students?) Second, the failure of Neighborhood Housing has led to a dramatic (almost doubling?) increase in co-op applicants precisely because the single most important aspect of senior housing is having the chance to live with your best friends. Williams is almost over and you want to spend those last 9 months with the Ephs you hope/plan to be close to for the rest of your life. As Dave Moore notes:

One of the reasons co-ops are so valuable (and popular) is that they upset the neighborhood system by their very nature, by removing restrictions and allowing people to actually live with their friends.

Before the Neighborhood Housing, seniors could live with anyone they wanted to.

3) I am glad to see College Council focusing on this topic. Good for them!

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Sophomore Orientation

A good idea.

College Council Sophomore Orientation Proposal

From Willipedia

In the Winter Study of 2009, College Council created a subcommittee to look at the possibility of having a program that would address gaps in the Sophomore experience at Williams. That committee was chaired by Emanuel Yekutiel ’11 and the product of the committee was the proposal below.

After constructing this proposal and brainstorming for ideas about the programs, the subcommittee approached various administrators and community members to gather support for the programs. In the early Spring, the Dean of the College and the Dean’s Office decided to formally support the program for the Class of 2012.

Excellent. The best way to improve the Williams community is to introduce more people to each other. The more sophomores who know each other’s names, the better. Related idea here.

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On CC and the rest of Sunday

CC tabled at dining halls last Thursday to get information about the programs and departments they valued most. There were about 12-14 items on the sheet, which students could rank. The e-mail announcing the tabling also had a link to an electronic poll.

Also, CC has just appointed the four student members of the Neighborhood Review Committee, which will begin meeting this week. Take it to mean what you will, but most positions on committees aren’t incredibly selective, and CC had to turn down some great applicants. I hope that all students can contribute to this review, even if they, like me, did not apply.

Last, anyone who read my writ from Sunday morning can add an incredibly deep and soulful conversation that helped me discover new aspects of myself, catching up with a friend from last semester, watching several old episodes of a TV show on Hulu, attending the largest gathering of the Feast that I can remember, making cards to send to faculty members about Take Back The Night, helping out at the climbing wall, showing a piece to other musicians so that we could collaborate on performing it in two weeks, writing a song about Spring Break, and figuring out the details of a new project that I feel pretty good about. So that’s 66 hours at Williams for you.

For the letter from CC, click Read more

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The New Co-Presidents

As seen in the election results, our new student leaders are Mike Tcheyan ’10 and Lizzy Brickley ’10. Mike is a Water Polo player who coordinated the WOOLF program for two years. Lizzy is on the Crew team, a former CC class representative, a current JA, and one of two students representatives on the Presidential Search Committee. Both are members of the 114th delegation of Gargoyle. See their Self-Nomination and Platform by clicking…. Read more

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Spring CC Election Results

CC Campus

  • Co-Presidents: Lizzy Brickley ’10 and Mike Tcheyan’10
  • Secretary: Zach Evans ’12
  • Treasurer: Rachel Hudson ’10
  • Minority Concerns: Ifiok Inyang’11
  • Class of 2010 Rep: Joya Sonnenfeldt ’10
  • Class of 2011 Rep: Emanuel Yekutiel ’11
  • Class of 2012 Rep: Newton Davis ’12

CC Campus is comprised of the year long officeholders. It sets the College Council agenda and makes appointments to student-faculty committees.

Neighborhoods CC Reps

  • Currier: Christina Metcalf  ’10
  • Dodd: Cameron Nutting ’11
  • Spencer: Hilary Dolstad ’11
  • Wood: Lane Wang ’11

Please note that each neighborhood will also send a leadership board representative to College Council. These people will be Emily George ’09 of Currier, Christophe Dorsey ’10 of Dodd, Schulyer Hall ’10 of Spencer, and Francesca Barrett ’12 of Wood.

First-Year House Reps

  • Armstrong: Will Weiss ’12
  • Dennett: Austin Brown ’12
  • Mills: Carmen Vidal ’12
  • Pratt: Aven King ’12
  • Sage: Amanda Weatherhead ’12
  • Williams: Shara Singh ’12

Honor Committee

  • Anthony Nguyen ’10, replacing Charlie Crawford ’10, who I think is abroad.

Honorary Degrees Commitee

  • Nick Arnosti ’11
  • Will Slack ’11

The Honorary Degrees Committee seeks the names of suitable candidates for honorary degrees and presents those nominations to the President and Committee on Degrees of the Board of Trustees.

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Suggestion for CCI

Emily Spine ’11 and the other Ephs on the Committee on Community Interaction continue to do fine work. They are serious, thoughtful and — most importantly from a process point of view — transparent. Alas, their task is a hard one. How can we improve “the way people in this community interact with each other” at Williams?

My suggestion: Expand First Days (pdf) by one week.

Now, to be fair, the first part of CCI’s work is to determine if Williams has a problem. I think that too many people exaggerate the extent of, say, racism at Williams (c.f. the empty star chamber) but there is no doubt that a wonderful place can always be made more wonderful. Surely we can agree that the amount of drunken vandalism at Williams is suboptimal.

The key insight of organizations that try to change their members behavior (and even value systems) is that the best time to do so is at the very beginning. The Marine Corps places boot camp at the start of your service, not because it is critical to learn how to shine your boots the first week, but because that is the occasion for leaving behind your civilian values and replacing them with different ones. The same applies to religious cults. It is hard for the CCI to do anything which will significantly change the behavior of a Williams senior. He is what he is. You can try to change him, but don’t expect to succeed.

But the same student, as an 18 year-old first year, new to college and to Williams, having left behind the old landmarks of high school and family, trying to adjust to a new world with an unknown culture and foreign standards, that Eph is malleable. You can change his “heart and mind,” if not easily than with more ease than you can an older student, someone who has already found a place for himself at Williams.

Now, the exact mechanics of how we might make First Years better people, how we might change their values so that they are less likely to trash someone’s room or shout a racial slur, is a difficult topic. Yet we can all agree that that process takes time, that First Days are already too filled to accomplish much, that any effort to improve community interaction requires hours and hours of effort. Add a week to First Days and you have that time.

Imagine an extra week of First Days, a week that focuses almost completely on meeting your fellow Ephs, on learning their names, their dreams, their hopes and aspirations. Imagine a freshmen class in which every resident of Pratt knows, not just the names of everyone in her entry, but the names of every student in her dorm. Imagine a week cut off from Williams academics and Williams sports, a week spent focusing on your classmates, the students you will spend the next four years with and then stay connected with for decades thereafter.

If you want to improve “community interaction” then you need to strengthen the Williams community, and that begins by learning names and sharing meals. Such learning and sharing occurs in entries and during the school year, of course. But the more such connections are made, the stronger our community will become.

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CCI Update

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while since my last update and so I’d like to fill you all in on what CCI has been doing lately.  Two weeks ago, we decided that perhaps we should take the committee’s investigation in a different direction, and instead of interviewing countless groups of people and still missing out on the majority of the college, we should look at surveys.

At first, we thought about constructing our own survey to be distributed by Chris Winters, director of institutional research here at Williams, but after speaking with him, we have altered that idea a bit.  We are going to be looking at the results of certain surveys and picking out what data we want to analyze.  Now, I’m not a statistician, so I’m not exactly on top of the survey/data game, but if you need more explanation on what is included in the notes, please talk to Mac Stone (richard.m.stone@williams.edu) or Lindsay Moore (lindsay.m.moore@williams.edu); they definitely know more about the nitty-gritty details than I do.

In any case, as of right now, all interviews have been suspended until further notice (this is not saying they will not ever take place, however) and we will keep you updated with the committee’s progress!  We are looking to extend our deadline, since it was originally set at October 15 and it’s very clear that we are nowhere close to finishing.  Please feel free to throw out any suggestions, questions, etc. on the new direction.  The minutes from this week’s meeting will be up on the website quite soon, I just have to wait for Dave Senft to post them (definitely no later than Tuesday).  Again, the website can be found here.

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Fall CC Election Results

Neighborhoods CC Reps

  • Currier: Ifiok Inyang ’11
  • Dodd: Andrew Goldston ’09
  • Spencer: Keith Butts ’09
  • Wood: Jenny Danzi ’09

Freshmen House Reps

  • Armstrong: Tim Goggins
  • Dennett: Zach Evans
  • Mills: Runoff between Sam Jonynas and Mustafa Saadi
  • Pratt: Austin Davis
  • Sage: Newton Davis
  • Williams: Elizabeth Jimenez

Honor Committee

  • Andres Lopez ’09, Student Chair
  • Wes Johnson ’09
  • Charlie Crawford ’10
  • Mia DeSimone ’10
  • Cecelia Davis-Hayes ’11
  • Will Slack ’11
  • Matiullah Amin ’12
  • William Su ’12

Committee on Priorities and Resources

  • Jia Cui ’09

$35,000 (to be split between top 2)

  • First: 1914 Library
  • Second: ACE Concerts
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CCI Minutes 09.25

Hello,

The CCI minutes should be up on our website by Monday.  The website can be found here.  

In the meantime, I will answer some of the questions that David posed to us in regards to the last few posts.

CCI and Committee on Diversity and Community (CDC) are two separate organizations, as David mentioned in his comment.  CDC is a permanent advisory committee to the president of Williams.  It is comprised of faculty, students, and staff.  They deal much more with improving the general community standards and look at a much broader scope of things.  CCI is a student-generated and student-directed temporary committee formed by College Council.  We are looking at the specific, and possibly systemic problems, among our student body.  We talked a bit at this last meeting about working with CDC, but that is all speculation at this point.

As for Claiming Williams, we are not directly involved with that.  We are a committee without bias one way or the other (i.e. we aren’t going to claim there are systemic problems until we have evidence that says it is so).  Therefore, I highly doubt that we will be involved with the planning of C.W. day.

I will put up another post as soon as the minutes are officially up on the website.

Have a great weekend!

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Elections, actually @ Williams….

The voting runs until 10 pm Tuesday. Frosh have to elect house reps and a class rep (the big job); upperclassmen will elect neighborhood reps. The Honor Committee and Committee on Priorities and Resources also have elections going on. Elections are all via Instant Runoff Voting.

See the options for the $35,000 after the link. There’s another poll on if the money should be split among top placers or dedicated to the winner.

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CCI Website

Hello everyone!

The new CCI website is up and running.  Documents such as minutes and whatnot will be posted on there from here forward.  I will also provide an update on here each week.  Check it out here.

Dave, as for your comments, I will bring them up at the next meeting and get back to you in my next post on here.

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CCI Minutes 9.18

Hello!

Here are the CCI minutes from our last meeting.

The interviewing phase of things has started and it seems to be going well.  We are going to be holding a forum with JAs at their meeting with Dean Dave on October 6, and have tentatively set a date to meet with last year’s JAs.  As per usual, let me know if there are any questions!

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CCI Update #2

Hey everyone,

Here are the minutes from CCI’s most recent meeting: CCI Minutes 09.11

As per usual, let me know if you have trouble opening them.

Now to the question raised on the last post.

Why are locals left out?

Technically, CCI’s mandate only deals with student-student interactions.  We will be talking to CC to see if they would be okay with us including locals’ views on these interactions; however, we are unsure if town-gown relations fall under our jurisdiction.

Some other people have requested to see the mandate, which is linked above.

Have a wonderful weekend!

– Emily

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CC has $35,000 to spend – ideas?

The following was sent to students yesterday:

We hope everyone is doing well and successfully adjusting back into class mode.
College Council is writing to get your advice and give you a chance to help make a major financial decision for the campus.

College Council raised $35,000 by closing the college accounts of defunct student groups.  We now want to use that money for a large campus improvement project and we are giving the student body the power to decide how to spend it.

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CC Minutes 2008-04-30

Another amazing set of minutes (an hour of minutes?) from hard-working College Council Secretary Emily Deans ’09. Read the whole thing but note these comments on WNY.
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CC Minutes 2008-04-23

Latest College Council minutes from the wonderful Emily Deans ’09. In a discussion about raising funds for more social events, we have:

Sarah Moore (Class of 2009 Rep) mentioned the issue of having money for alcohol, which both the neighborhoods and also ACE struggle with. There is no good way to have money for alcohol without charging students.

Peter Nurnberg (co-President) clarified that other schools allocate their Student Activities Tax more for programming things and less to non-programming organizations and Williams does the opposite.

Gordon Atkins (Sage) said that it would be nice if the endowment could subsidize things for the students.

Excellent idea! Of course, it is tough for the endowment itself to cut a check, but the endowment is just the collection of donations from generous alums and, even today, there are hundreds of generous alums who would love to “subsidize things for the students.” In fact, Nurnberg and his co-president campaigned on just such a plan. I outlined how it should work here. Alas:

Even though I think that this is a great idea, my prediction is that nothing meaningful will come of it because Williams administrators will be able to cajole/trick the interested students into dropping the project. The College is happy to have students fund-raise for projects that the College already approves of. It will do everything it can to prevent students from contacting alumni about projects it would not otherwise fund.

With luck, students will prove me wrong.

No one ever contacted me. Perhaps someone in next year’s Gargoyle class will prove me wrong.

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CC Minutes 2008-04-09

Another amazingly detailed set of College Council minutes from Emily Deans ’09. Morty was at the CC meeting and answered all sorts of interesting questions. Here are some of the highlights (and my comments) but read the whole thing.

Thomas Rubinsky (Class of 2010 Rep) asked whether the college was doing anything about the loss of the rectory as a co-op?

President Schapiro responded that he did not know whether the college was going anything but made several comments about how much he likes co-ops. He said that there may be some opportunities to turn buildings into co-ops once the North and South buildings are completed.

Good news! Co-ops are indeed one of the very best parts of student housing at Williams, and it is good to know that Morty agrees. One of my concerns about Neighborhood Housing was that the inevitable failure to create meaningful neighborhood community would lead the Administration to try to salvage the project by pulling seniors back into the neighborhoods, mainly by attaching co-ops to neighborhoods or by decreasing the number of seniors allowed to live off-campus. Perhaps there is no need to worry about that now.

Yet it is still a shame that the Administration take the obvious next step. If co-op housing is wonderful and popular (more than 1/2 of all juniors applied), why not create more co-ops? Genius, eh? Someone from Gargoyle or College Council ought to look into this, ought to come up with a plan that increases the number of co-ops even if it means taking nice senior housing away from the clusters. Such a plan could, if anything, make senior housing in the neighborhoods more equal than it is today.

Narae Park (Dodd Board Rep) then asked about the 2020 Committee.

President Schapiro said that the idea for the 2020 Committee is that we are supposed to look ahead about a dozen years to see what kind of challenges are going to confront Williams. Some examples he gave were improving the public schools and being competitive with our peer institutions in terms of financial aid packages. Williams keeps changing the financial aid packages but it is hard to compete with Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, etc. and we are competitive but part of discussion is financial aid and part of financial aid is trying to create a more inclusive society. He also mentioned the 1.5 million dollars the college has for next year for environmental initiatives. Then President Schapiro talked about globalization and bringing the world to Williams and Williams to the world. He said that part of the 2020 effort is to position the college to be a more attractive place that does a better job of educating students.

It would be nice if the College were to be more transparent about the 2020 planning process. We can’t all be invited to the special retreat in Oxford, but why not share 90% of the material that was passed out at those meetings? (Redact anything particularly sensitive.) A College Council member ought to ask to see this stuff.

Spending more money on the public schools is about the most inefficient means possible of making Williams a better college. But it does make the faculty happy!

Is it just me or is the number one most obvious priority matching the financial aid packages of Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford? I am not arguing that the College needs to be more generous than these schools, just that we shouldn’t force an applicant to pay $10,000 more to choose Williams.

Rachel Ko (Wood At-Large) asked about bringing the world to Williams and Williams to the world. Some students have been trying to push for experiential learning on campus and a lot of classes aren’t using local resources to really allow students to learn in the field.

President Schapiro said that faculty are very skeptical about giving credit for experiential things because it is very difficult to do it right. Most professors like what they teach and how they teach it and are skeptical about giving up control. Bringing the world to Williams means having a more globalized student body, faculty, and staff (increase international students) and that has made a difference. He thought that the curriculum and student body were in a pretty good place and want students to have a lot of experience outside of classroom but thought that it would be a tall order to ask faculty to give up control.

Exactly right. Although it is tough to know the exact meaning of “experiential learning” in this context (and I am a fan of Rachel Ko), no course credit should be given for anything outside of faculty control. Students should, of course, be encouraged to do all sorts of activities outside of classes and if someone wants to call this “experiential learning” all the better. But each semester you take 4 classes which Williams faculty judge important and rigorous. Many of those classes will involve work outside of the classroom, whether it is field observations in Hopkins Forest or studying paintings at the Clark. But a member of the Williams faculty is always in charge of the syllabus and evaluation.

President Schapiro was then asked about changes in scholarships. He said that the good news is that colleges are competing to be more affordable but he thought that some recent changes are things that aren’t necessarily fair. There are a lot of schools that have rich kids paying sticker price who aren’t as smart as the rest of the class and that is what need-aware admissions means. Williams does a good job and has a decent distribution of students with families all the way up the income ladder and the way to improve that distribution is to improve aid packages. He said that the new changes in aid are creating a bizarre incentive to put wealth in to home equity.

Good advice to all the Williams applicants among our readers. Indeed, there are probably dozens of current Williams students who could improve their financial aid package if their parents emptied the family (non-retirement?) savings accounts and put that money into home equity. If the money is in the bank, the College demands a piece of it. If the money is in your house, maybe not.

But Morty is being either naive or disingenuous to imply that this is some “problem” with the financial aid system that could be fixed via better policy, and/or collusion via the 568 group. The central issue is that very rich schools (H/Y/P/S) want to get the students they want and they have, for years, competed on price to do so. Williams is forced to either follow suit or have no non-rich student who could have attended HYPS choose us instead. The home equity “incentive” derives from this competition because HYPS found it convenient to cut price via the mechanism of ignoring home equity. Williams is forced to go along, not because it finds home equity a more sensible way to save but simply because of peer competition.

And the next steps in this competition are fairly obvious (and perhaps HYPS have already started in this direction). Soon, elite colleges will not even ask you for your savings. Your family’s wealth (whether stored in bank accounts or home equity) will play no part in your bill. Instead, they will just ask to see you 1040 and base the family contribution on your income.

Full minutes below and more commentary tomorrow.
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CC Minutes 2008-04-02

Latest College Council minutes from Emily Deans ’09.
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CC Minutes 2008-03-11

College Council notes from the wonderful Emily Deans ’09. Full notes below, but note this item.

The CDC [Committee on Diversity and Community] is also analyzing the homogeneity of the JA selection committee and the JA structure. In particular, the CDC is focusing on what JAs can do to ensure that minority students can feel a part of the entry. The implications of this would primarily be resolved in more in-depth and issue-specific training addressing issues that often affect minority students.

Come on! Is any reasonable person actually concerned that the JA selection committee is too homogeneous? The JASC is one of the great student institutions at Williams. It is probably biased in favor of people who are rah-rah Williams, but mainly because you have to be fairly rah-rah to care about who gets to be a JA. I would bet big money that, relative to its applicant pool, the JASC is as diverse as diverse can be. The problem with an organization like CDC is that, left unchecked, there is always the chance that it could do real damage, like insist on involving non-students from the Office of Campus Life in its deliberations.

Any JA readers can comment on whether or not they feel that the JAs need more “in-depth and issue-specific training” on these topics. I bet they get enough.

Full notes below. (Apologies for the formatting. My fault not Emily’s.)
UPDATE: Early posting was not the final version of the notes. Fixed now.
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CC Minutes 2008-03-05

Thanks to Emily Dean ’09 for passing along the latest minutes from College Council.

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Details on the ECCE

There are 7 pages of Word document proposal that CC will take up on Wednesday. In those, there is one big decision: on if the committee should talk about faculty behavior (something that has not been ideal for some people). The two forms proposed are 9-6-3 (non-voting), with a clear student majority but a large group of faculty, or 9- 2 (non-voting) -3 (non-voting), with only students, but with several advisory positions.

Excerpts in the link, though the bullet points might not reproduce well. Read more

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Pro CC

AB ’07 puts some of the recent complaints about College Council in perspective.

This last weekend, CC campus, made up of the at large and class reps, spent almost 10 hours reading applications and 5 hours locked in a tiny room in Goodrich picking people to be in the MANY student faculty committees CC oversees. Sure, these committees might be ineffective, they might not have done much in the past, but they do represent the student body. We had over a 150 applications so these are things people want to join. Now Oren Cass might believe that I, as an at large rep, thoroughly enjoyed reading through a 150 applications – let me assure you, I didn’t. We all had things to do that were more fulfilling and probably more important to us. But we did sit there in that damn room and get through it. I don’t know how many people would have given up so much of their time and energy to something they really had no involvement in.

I think that Cass’s rhetorical skill occasionally blinds him to the fact that College Council does a lot of good and important work. His failure to acknowledge this makes his good points less persuasive then they might otherwise be. AB writes:

And if anyone has the gall to claim that CC does nothing, read the minutes. Godfrey Bakuli is already a celebrity on this campus thanks to his work in removing the snack bar tax. He is not the only one. Jonathan Landsman managed to get the college to open up 2 kitchens for students who live on campus in the summer. Eylul Kasal is working on getting the academic hardship policy of the school modified so that it includes midterms. Jesse England has been working for a while on getting academic and social advising for sophomores. I, along with other council members, have been trying to grapple with the network problems this campus has been facing. The list goes on. If you think these are small projects of minimum value, you seriously are living in your own little bubble.

Indeed.

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