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Members discuss role of Off-Campus Council

John Cameron | Wednesday, November 3, 2010

At this week’s Council of Representatives (COR) meeting, members discussed the role of the Off-Campus Council and how possible improvements could increase effectiveness and take more of the burden of handling off-campus concerns from other groups, leaving more resources for other issues.

“So much of the focus of on-campus bodies has been off-campus issues,” student body president Catherine Soler said. “We think one of the things we can do is to really bolster the power of the Off-Campus Council.”

Referencing the group’s constitution, Soler said the Off-Campus Council’s purpose is to “sponsor functions and disseminate information to off-campus students, which has been the goal of student government this whole year.”

Hoping to reduce ambiguity about electing members to the council and better express the group’s intended purpose, Soler raised a discussion about potential constitutional amendments.

One of the unclear clauses pertains to eligibility to run and vote for off-campus positions. Under the current rules, only current off-campus students can vote for the following year, and in practice, only off-campus juniors have tended to run for these offices.

“I guess it’s just been implied that you have to live [off campus] junior year to run for these positions,” off-campus president Ryan Hawley said. “It doesn’t really make sense. What we’re thinking is having people who are going to live off campus be able to run and vote so it’s much more representative of off-campus students.”

Soler said expanding eligibility for participation could attract more applicants and ensure the most capable students are given the opportunity to fill the positions.

“We think we can really up the quality and get more people to apply for this if we could get on-campus students who are living off next year to run,” she said.

After it was suggested that the Off-Campus Council’s level of activity has been lacking, Hawley said the problem was figuring out how to get interested off-campus students involved and maintaining a consistent meeting schedule.

“We don’t really have meetings which is part of the problem,” he said. “It’s been hard. People want to get involved and help but actually getting them involved has been difficult.”

Hawley introduced the idea of off-campus ambassadors, whose role would be to facilitate the flow of information between off-campus students and the on-campus president, as well as maintaining positive relationships with members of the community.

“We were thinking about having neighborhood ambassadors who would go around neighborhoods introducing themselves,” he said. “They would report directly to the on-campus president.”

Soler said she felt redefining the purpose of the Council could also help with the group’s current funding problems.

“The focus was thought to be that it was a programming board,” she said. “But if we decide that it’s disseminating information then it’s probably something that could be taken more seriously, if this is a more legitimate need for funds.”