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Diverse group offers input on off-campus concerns

John Cameron | Friday, December 10, 2010

The Council of Representatives (COR), an advisory group that facilitates communication between the student body and its president, has worked to progress the Soler-Bell agenda this semester.

COR has been particularly effective in handling the beND campaign, student government’s community relations platform.

The Council, comprised of members of various student government branches including class councils, Student Senate and the Student Union Board, provides the student body president with a unique forum to obtain insights from the otherwise independent student groups.

“I saw COR as a resource for vetting ideas and getting a pulse on student opinion as we try to move forward with ideas,” student body president Catherine Soler said.

Soler’s primary campaign platform, the beND campaign, has received support from the Council.

When the number of students arrested for underage drinking rose dramatically earlier this semester, COR brought forward constructive, specific ideas for responding to the situation.

It also provided an opportunity for underage students, as well as upperclassmen, to have their concerns represented as student government dealt with issues relevant to each group.

“I think we were really lucky to have COR during the high-arrest period because we got the cross-year opinion, having all the age levels represented,” Soler said.

COR also frequently discussed programming and resources to educate students about Indiana law and off-campus safety. These talks materialized into a presentation by attorney C.L. Lindsay and distribution of the Good Neighbor Guides, led by the Senior Class Council.

COR also helped overhaul the Off-Campus Council. Led by off-campus president Ryan Hawley, the Council prepared a recommended amendment to the group’s constitution, which was later passed by the Student Senate.

In addition to making suggestions to Soler, COR had a more hands-on role in the beND campaign when its members took part in the Northeast Neighborhood Safety Summit, held at the Robinson Community Learning Center.

COR provided local residents — some came to the Summit with complaints about student neighbors — with an opportunity to put faces to the student body.

“We all went to the Safety Summit at the Robinson Center, so right there, we had 25 prominent student leaders out in the community, committing to our goal [of improved relations],” Soler said. “That sent a message to the community.”

In addition to implementing and promoting Soler’s agenda to the student body and community, the Council also conveyed student complaints and opinions to the relevant policymakers in student government.

For example, representatives had a lot to say about improving pep rallies, in regard to lengthiness, layout of the student section, advertising and a dorm spirit incentive competition, led by Mike Oliver, Hall Presidents’ Council co-chair and a member of COR.

The Council’s feedback regarding pep rallies was especially effective in guiding Soler’s suggestions to the committee in charge of the rallies.

The first annual Whine Week, which allowed students to give suggestions to student government, was an example of the Council’s role as an avenue for student body opinion.

As a result of the administration’s increased emphasis on closing the gap between the student body and its government, the Council was able to show how useful a diverse, campus-wide group can be to the student body president and vice president.

Grade: A-

The Council of Representatives has effectively addressed major student concerns in a timely manner. COR has provided student body president Catherine Soler with specific and realistic suggestions in response to the off-campus problems that arose earlier in the semester. It also fulfilled its role as a gauge for student body opinion through Whine Week and its suggestions for pep rally reform.