Committee Selections Avoid Traditional Channels

On many mostly unknown committees around the Farm, students exercise considerable influence on campus affairs from positions for which they did not apply. The notable committees include Vice Provost Elam’s Student Advisory Group and the Faculty Senate’s ad hoc committee on ROTC, whose representatives include students that did not go through any formal application or selection process.

In both cases, ASSU President Angelina Cardona ‘11 led the way in locating students for committees, but often not through any official channels.

ROTC Committee

Hilary Stone ’13, Deputy Chair of the ASSU Nominations Committee (NomCom) and the news editor for the Stanford Review, discussed her concerns with the appointment process for the ROTC Committee, in particular.

“I just hope that there aren’t students who would want to be on the committee but didn’t know about it or didn’t know Angelina, and that’s why they’re not on it,” Stone said.

Instead of implementing an application process, the chairs of the ROTC committee sought out the input and recommendations of Cardona. “For the ROTC committee I was contacted by the chair of the committee [Professor Ewart Thomas] to recommend two students to serve,” Cardona explained in an email to the Review.

The two students Cardona recommended were Imani Franklin ’13 and Akhil Iyer ’11. These recommendations were the only ones the committee received, and Franklin and Iyer both were accepted onto the committee.

When asked why NomCom might not have been involved, Stone commented “Perhaps [Cardona] has a better knowledge of who’s really involved in these issues while I would have a hard time knowing who’s specifically involved.”

Both student representatives declined to comment at the time of press release, citing that the process of their committee was “ongoing.”

VPUE Student Advisory Group

According to Lisa Bilgen, executive assistant to the vice provost, SAG is made up of four unique groups: the ASSU president and vice president, two class presidents from the sophomore, junior and senior slates, as well as three at-large members appointed through NomCom, and three remaining at-large members who are appointed through VPUE and student advisors.

When talking about the inclusion of the ASSU Executive and the class presidents, Bilgen noted that these students are a reflection of “obviously whoever the class decides.”

“The logic is that these are people chosen by the students to represent them. So that’s why SAG picked the president, vice president, and class presidents; that’s pretty easy,” Bilgen explained.

Some, however, have questioned whether class presidents were elected for the purpose of advising administrators on undergraduate curriculum issues. Stone pointed to the ASSU website, which explains that class presidents are intended to put on “programming that promotes the cohesion and well being of their respective classes.”

In an email to the Review, Vice Provost Elam defended his decision to include class presidents on his advisory committee. “We wanted a group of students from different class years and a variety of majors and interests, without expecting that [SAG] would be fully representative of the student body as a whole,” he said. “My intent is to use the SAG as a sounding board.  This group just provides some general opinions on issues such as their thoughts on the look of the VPUE student website.”

In addition to such topics as the VPUE website, Cardona described other topics of conversation for the committee at their first meeting, such as the “unit” measurement for coursework, the barriers for athletes to going abroad, and a potential “techie”/“fuzzy” divide.

Both SAG and the ROTC committee have met this quarter and will continue to do so throughout the year. The ROTC committee is expected to present its findings by the end of the academic year, while the discussions of SAG will constitute a significant part of the ongoing discourse surrounding the work of the Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford, which is now examining such issues as IHUM and other general education requirements. The findings of SUES will come to the Faculty Senate in the fall of 2011.

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