Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism.
The Dartmouth
April 18, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Council seeks to unify students via programs

Each year following the election of freshman officers, Class Council members representing each class year gather to divide the roughly $3,200 allotted to the organization from the endowment and the student services budget. In addition to a portion of this fund, each of the four class councils receive an additional $5,000 from the student activities fee charged as part of students' tuition at the start of Fall term. Together, the money is used for programming events during Homecoming weekend, Sophomore Summer Family Weekend and Senior Week.

The general pool of funds is distributed unequally between classes due to the prevalence of costly senior and first-year events, according to 2013 Class Council President Georgia Travers '13. Each year, the Council on Class Officers meets to discuss the ideal division.

"The senior class usually gets the most because of Senior Tails and Senior Week, while the freshman get second most because of the bonfire and freshman formal," Travers said. "Sophomores get sophomore summer programming and juniors get the smallest proportion because they are off campus more often, so they need comparatively less money."

Assistant Director of the Collis Center for Student Involvement Jose Vazquez said he is tasked with informing class councils about how much money they can allocate to special events and programming. Sophomore class representatives need to save their money in the Fall, Winter and Spring terms, for instance, to have enough for Sophomore Summer Family Weekend and Fieldstock.

2016 Class Council President Akash Kar '16 said that his class' biggest expense at the moment is Homecoming, which includes cluster parties, bonfire-building and bonfire t-shirts. Portions of the costs will be retrieved via t-shirt sales, which will be used to pay for a first-year formal during Winter term.

"In spring, hopefully we can provide some free swag and class barbecues with the money left over," he said.

As freshmen, members of the Class of 2016 are pressured to maintain a number of important fall traditions, Kar said.

In preparation for Homecoming, the 2016 Class Council saw over 150 individuals sign up to be involved with the bonfire, reflecting one of the highest interest levels in Homecoming history, he said. Representatives have also worked to promote a safe Homecoming atmosphere for first-year students.

"We're trying to be spokespeople for our class by meeting with various deans to talk about alcohol policy and what we can do to combat unsafe drinking habits," Kar said.

2013 Class Council Treasurer Kevin Cox '13 said that many programs for the senior class focus on post-graduation planning. The Council encourages students to leave their comfort zones and foster class unity while offering useful information, he said.

Travers said she is currently working with the President's Office to ensure that members of the graduating class have a say in the choice of a Commencement speaker. In addition, a recent event for seniors at 3 Guys Basement Barbecue attracted over 300 people.

Class Council offers non-Greek social spaces that are not always available and events that foster community across typical social circles, according to Travers. Other initiatives have included RiverFest events during sophomore summer and the distribution of Class of 2013 apparel.

"They used to do the knitted class sweaters, so this fall we worked with a '12 who is starting a company to reproduce them," she said. "We placed orders to re-initiate that tradition."

2014 Class Council Treasurer Amy Li '14 said that the junior class is hosting a community dinner on Wednesday with faculty, staff and students in order to promote community-building and increase awareness of the Council's resources.

"We plan to hold another dinner like this in the spring when more of our class is back on campus," Li said. "We're also working with Career Services to try to get them to put on an event more targeted to juniors."

Each class council consists of a president, vice president, treasurer and secretary. While the members have different roles, they collaborate to ensure efficiency, Travers said.

Class Council was created to give students a more prominent role in daily student life, according to Travers. Past forms of student governance at the College were different given that administrators wielded less power over student activities, leaving more power in the hands of students.

"There really was no Dean of the College until the 1960s, so it was the students' job to change how something happened or something worked," Travers said. "There was a reliance on student leadership, but now students have more time to spend on academics and extracurriculars so they're not concerned about how to run the school, which is a pretty big job."

Vazquez said he considers it his job to improve the functioning of the organization and meet with officers to ensure that operations align with a "bigger picture."

A number of Council members said they decided to join the organization due to previous involvement with student government and a desire to promote unity across the classes.

"I didn't know about it as a freshman, but I knew that [Student Assembly] was more orientated toward policy change," Travers said. "Class Council is oriented toward fostering spirit and community within specific classes and has the practical effect of unifying the class."

While classes can feel unified when members are freshmen, they often become more fragmented and divided over time, according to Travers. She said that her role enables her to bridge the gap by creating events that appeal to a broad cross-section of the Class of 2013.

"We need to generate and nurture a class spirit that will be what unifies us when we're alumni, which is fearsome in how close it is," Travers said. "A class of very dedicated alumni is good for the school in terms of getting new students and maintaining athletic and academic excellence, and my goal is to continue this tradition."