This week’s President’s Corner will be dedicated to giving a quick explanation of College Government’s renewed fervor in putting forth structural and constitutional changes this year. I understand that many of these changes appear to take College Government (CG) in an inward-facing direction rather than the outward-facing programming that previous CGs have focused on, and that the change of pace is confusing to some. I hope that this column will provide a good sense of why these changes are being put forth, why now, and how it fits into CG’s overall vision.
The changes that members of College Government Cabinet have put forth this year aim to address one of the following issues:
- Address current challenges students face when interacting with CG-related policies and structures (e.g. we have streamlined multiple SOFC deadlines into one annual deadline).
- Gain a better sense of present conditions within the student body and provide targeted support (e.g. the new student organizations recognition model will allow us to accurately determine the number of student organizations on campus and allow us to know what sort of resources organizations need).
- Review and update documents to better reflect CG’s current conditions and aspirational goals (e.g. changing the composition of Elections Committee, updating the Honor Code Council constitution, putting in place Senate community norms).
- Reform CG’s organizational structures to more effectively support students and give students a greater voice in decision-making (e.g. creating an ad-hoc Demonstration Policy committee that includes students-at-large, creating new Cabinet positions to better distribute responsibilities and create opportunities for student support).
Many of these changes are also motivated by an active reckoning with our past. We are doing things that should have really been done regularly, i.e. updating and reviewing our policies in a consistent fashion and seeing if our current organizational structure is holding us back rather than propelling us forward. That is not to say that previous CGs are wrong to not have done so, or that we have completely abandoned our desire to organize programs that cultivate student community — it is just that members of this year’s College Government Cabinet have also made strengthening internal organizational governance a key priority this year.
As for the speed at which such changes are happening: the time is now.
With regards to the most recent Cabinet restructuring proposal put up in Senate last week that aims to create new Cabinet positions and committees, there really is no time for the stars to be in perfect alignment before making such a move — but even so, some stars are in alignment. As previously stated, the provision of a leadership stipend to Cabinet members next year has created more thoughtfulness about the role and responsibilities of Cabinet members. With all the changes SOFC and SOAC have made, the time is right to be rethinking how we can better support and see through such changes, as well as continue to multiply the impact that we can make together with the student community.
Yes, attempting to create new Cabinet positions so close to Elections is potentially destabilizing from an organization perspective with CG. Some may call it a risky move. But these changes are not capricious flights of fancy — they are thoughtful responses to age-old institutional challenges that CG committees and Cabinet members have faced. At its core, it contains a heartfelt desire to really support students at Wellesley in ways that we cannot do in our existing form. We are putting forward a proposal that we know will not bear fruit immediately, but of which we hope future generations of Wellesley students will reap the benefits.
As with all things leadership that requires incredible doses of faith, I do believe that these changes will help CG live out what it is meant to do: foster an active student community, represent students’ voices effectively and serve students with strong love. And I trust that the stars will always be in alignment for that.