Ivy Council reveals differences among schools

To many Yale students, the other Ivy League schools are rivals to defeat on the athletic fields. But a small group of Yalies participate in an organization that actually promotes cooperation among the Ancient Eight.

The Ivy Council was founded by students in 1993, and officially became a nonprofit organization five years later. Each Ivy League student government chooses delegates to represent its respective student body in the council, which was devised to promote dialogue between the eight Ivy schools.

Every semester, the council convenes for a weekend conference. Delegates usually propose and pass resolutions that they then take back to their own schools to adopt. In November’s conference at Brown, however, the council concentrated more on learning about each school’s government and discussing issues such as the Sept. 11 attacks and financial aid.

Yale was represented at the fall conference by a five member delegation led by Head Delegate Marc Silverman ’03. Delegation member Naved Sheikh ’03 said in an e-mail that the council exposed him to the various forms of student government in the Ivy League.

“Until one goes to an Ivy Council, that person does not realize how different each of the schools, particularly their student governments, are,” said Sheikh, who is now Yale’s head delegate. “One government body has an ordained minister as its president, one school meets in a hallowed room in a student union building, another meets in a English classroom, at least two have million-dollar budgets, and one actually has political parties.”

Sam Asher ’03, who also attended, said in an e-mail that the meeting shed light on the differences among Ivy League administrations.

“The administrations at UPenn and Cornell seem to have the most faith in their students and listen to them more than at other schools,” Asher said. “Yale seemed among the worst with regard to how responsive the administration is to student concerns. Delegates from the other schools couldn’t believe how difficult it is to get a meeting with an administrator here. It was very frustrating to see how closely the administrators at other schools listen to student opinion.”

The Ivy Council also plans two annual events, IvyCorp — an Ivy-wide day of volunteer service — and the Ivy Leaders Summit, a leadership development conference to which students from all Ivy schools are eligible to apply.

Ruchika Budhraja ’03, co-chairman of this year’s second annual Ivy Leaders Summit, said in an e-mail that the three-day conference will include speakers, panels and discussions focused on the theme of “21st Century Leadership: Dealing With and Adapting to our Changing Society.”

“I think that the Ivy Council can be an extremely effective tool for students throughout the Ivy League,” Budhraja said. “However, because it is a relatively new organization, it has yet to reach its full potential.”

Current Ivy Council President Joshua Marcuse of Dartmouth said in an e-mail that he encourages all interested students to participate in the council.

“Now is a great time to get involved because we will be electing new leadership in the spring. Anyone can run and we are looking for the most ambitious, enthusiastic candidates to run,” Marcuse said. “We are always eager for people to join, and there is any number of activities or projects a person can work on at any time.”

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