Student Government calls for councils, cooperation

There’s a Student Government committee charged with overseeing college councils, which relay information and concerns between the student body, SG and the University’s colleges and schools.

But there’s one problem with this committee: So far, there’s no such council for several colleges on campus, including the College of Arts and Sciences – the largest at USF.

The absence of these college councils makes the SG committee dealing with the councils useless, said Alec Smith, senator and chair of the University outreach committee.

Smith said the purpose of his committee is to mitigate college councils.

“If there are no college councils, what can we do?” he said.

In response, Smith set up an SG Town Hall meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss college councils and promote their creation.

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) John Skvoretz said he wants his college to create a college council because it would act as a “great sounding board” and it could act as a representation of the students.

He said a student may have a problem and think the issue is college-wide when it isn’t. A college council would better facilitate these problems and determine which problems are college-wide and which aren’t, he said.

“A problem with a college at-large is diversity,” he said.

Smith said that CAS needs a council the most because it is the largest college at the University. CAS houses 27 schools and departments. CAS and the Honors College were invited to the Town Hall meeting, but Honors College Dean Stuart Silverman was unable to attend.

The Sports Club Council (SCC) is the prototype of student councils, according to former SCC president John Briggs.

“It’s what Student Government wants the other councils to be,” he said.

The SCC is the governing body for all club sports, according to SG statutes. It is responsible for distributing money to the clubs, such as the Rugby Club or the Bowling Bulls.

Smith said he hopes that all college councils will reach the responsibility level of the SCC.

“Hopefully, we can appropriate funds to college councils to disperse to organizations within a college,” he said.

Smith said it would help the organizations to not force the Senate to individually assess each one for Activity and Service (A&S) fees.

“It would even out the process,” he said, explaining that the college councils would have a better idea than the Senate would of what each student organization needs.

David Armstrong, SG adviser, said CAS had a student council when he went to USF 10 years ago, but it dissolved after he left.

“It’s really about the students in the organization doing the work,” he said. “It really is worth the time.”

Briggs said that sometimes the initiative of one person causes others to follow.

“It takes one person to get it going,” Briggs said. “Then everyone follows.”

Smith said college councils help foster communication between the students and the school. As the president of the Architecture College Council, Smith said he was able to arrange a meeting between students and the dean of the School of Architecture and Community Design for a discussion on the status of the school in light of budget cuts.

“It’s helpful for a college to have a level between the students and the dean,” Smith said.

Skvortez said that CAS has one council in which one person represents undergraduate students before the University, but that it wasn’t a college council and wasn’t sufficient.

“One representative for 18,000 students is just not enough,” he said.

Skvortez said he does what he can to represent the students, but that a college council would be able to do more.

“I can’t always scratch the itch,” he said. “But I always want to hear the concerns of the students.”

Skvoretz said he would be an adviser to the council if the students wanted.

“Take the intiative and come talk to me, ” he said. “I’ll take some ownership and responsibility.”

Smith said he hopes to have monthly Town Hall meetings, but future ones would not focus on college councils but other campus concerns.

“Now we will go to colleges, individuals and stress to them to create college councils.”