Ivy leaders set up forum to rival Council's presence

by Phil Salinger | 11/16/04 6:00am

The last week has been witness to a great deal of Ivy League diplomacy, as well as some disagreement over who should provide the forums.

One week after the Ancient Eight sent delegations to the Ivy Council, the schools' student government presidents and vice presidents convened this weekend at the inaugural Ivy League Student Government Meeting at Barnard College to discuss many of the same issues.

Typically, the Ivy Council facilitates a separate meeting solely for the leaders of each school's student government, but this year it failed to set up such a meeting, according to Ivy Council delegate Jacques Hebert '07.

In response, student government presidents and vice presidents across the Ivy League arranged their own meeting -- and set a precedent to use the Ivy League Student Government Meeting as their major forum rather than the Ivy Council.

The split parallels the Dartmouth Student Assembly's move earlier this term to formally disestablish itself from Ivy Council.

The students who met at Barnard said it was important for them to share ideas since they have the potential to impact their respective colleges.

"It's for us who are going to be making decisions for our student governments," said Vice Chairman of the University of Pennsylvania Undergraduate Assembly Cynthia Wong.

The delegates of the Ivy Council, according to Wong, have no defined role in their schools' student governments and, therefore, the Ivy Council is less likely to effect tangible benefits.

The student government leaders said that they do not view their Student Government meeting as a temporary remedy to Ivy Council's failure to set up a meeting this fall.

They have planned another meeting in the spring instead of planning to meet in conjunction with the Ivy Council's spring meeting as usual, leaders said.

Hebert, in contrast, said that the Ivy Council's role as a facilitator of presidents' meetings should continue.

"The presidents and vice presidents of different student governments should definitely use the Ivy Council as a forum," he said.

This first Student Government Meeting served mainly to establish a means of communication between schools and to acquire a general idea about other schools' approaches to problems at Dartmouth, according to Assembly Vice President Todd Rabkin Golden.

Among the many issues discussed in the five-hour meeting were a student bill of rights, alcohol policies, diversity training and academic advising.

The delegates from each school hope to achieve a more concrete agenda at their spring meeting, but some ideas have already started to take form.

The representatives, for example, discussed the advent of a student-run EMT service which students could call when a friend is in trouble with alcohol with no risk of punitive ramifications, according to Student Body President Julia Hildreth '05. A similar program is currently in effect at Columbia University.

Hildreth and Golden said that they are still compiling notes from the meetings and will bring the newfound ideas to the Student Assembly in the near future.

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