Next on the agenda: administrators

by Mike A. Hamilton | 5/10/00 5:00am

Instead of discussing resolutions at last night's weekly meeting, the Student Assembly invited two administrators to discuss the traditional role of students in College decision making.

In an effort to demystify the ways in which the Student Assembly has an impact on decisions within the ranks of College administrators and Trustees, the Assembly brought in Dean of Student Life Holly Sateia and Assistant Dean of the College Janet Terp to explicate their roles as administrators.

Sateia, who has worked at the College for 26 years, began by enumerating projects that the Assembly has done in the past -- many of which bear relevance to current issues facing the organization.

In 1991, the Assembly conducted a student survey of the D-plan and worked toward the official recognition of Martin Luther King Day in New Hampshire.

The Assembly is currently researching these past investigations of the D-plan as part of a review of the system and how it affects students' experiences at Dartmouth.

Sateia also noted that this year was the first in which New Hampshire celebrated Martin Luther King Day as an official holiday.

Continuing with the history of the organization, Sateia said that during the 1995/1996 school year, the Assembly set up an external review committee to look at how students perceived its student government.

During the same academic year, the idea of establishing a comprehensive database composed of past meeting minutes, resolutions and committee reports was brought up but never realized. Sateia expressed support for something similar to be undertaken in the future.

Describing her role in the Assembly, Sateia said it is different than her role in other student organizations because she doesn't set the agenda.

"You set the agenda, I help you cut through the red tape to get it done," she said.

Terp described her position as a liaison between students and the Board of Trustees.

She also emphasized the dedication of administrators in the office of the Dean of the College to working on problems faced by students, adding that going through the Dean of the College is the easiest and most practical way for the Assembly to affect change.

Emmett Hogan '01 pointed out that a big problem in the Assembly's decision-making powers is the lack of "institutional safeguard" -- such as a student member of the Board of Trustees -- to guarantee that students have a say in the process.

Terp said that having a student Trustee would not be a panacea and would not be as effective as other techniques, such as having periodic meetings between Trustees and students in which pertinent issues were discussed.

She also acknowledged that the Assembly has "incredible influence" with administrators, although it is not always immediately apparent.

President-elect Jorge Miranda asked why the Trustees will not allow a student representative on the Board.

Terp explained that there are many difficulties with doing that, citing the immense responsibilities and time commitment of the student. She also said that typically, students would focus on the short run while older Trustees would focus on the long term.

Sateia said that a more feasible and more effective method of institutional voice would be to have a recent graduate on the Board, as is done at several other Ivies. "It is something which should be looked into," she said.