NEW YORK — Student-government presidents and vice presidents from Yale, Brown, Dartmouth, Columbia and Barnard met at Barnard College Saturday for the inaugural Ivy League Student Government Meeting. During the all-day conference, student leaders got to know their counterparts at other universities and shared strategies for handling issues common to all the schools.
The leaders discussed alcohol policies, diversity training, academic advising, online course registration and feedback, funding of student organizations and electoral procedure. All officers present said they found the conference helpful in broadening their perspectives, and many said they would like to see the conference become an annual or even biannual event.
Yale College Council President Andrew Cedar ’06 said he found other leaders’ comments useful, but also said he was pleased to see how the other officers looked to Yale as a model for their own policies.
“Yale is doing an amazing job on almost every issue we discussed,” Cedar said.
The Dartmouth Student Assembly conceived the idea for the conference, DSA Vice President Todd Golden said.
“It seems like if we’re all working on the same ideas, it’d be good to communicate so we don’t all have to invent the wheel separately,” said Golden, a junior.
Alcohol policies were a prominent issue at the conference. Golden said he is concerned that the threat of disciplinary action for alcohol consumption discourages Dartmouth students from seeking emergency medical help when needed. For that reason, Golden said he was interested in hearing about Yale’s alcohol policy.
“We need to figure out a way to make sure students aren’t reluctant to get help,” Golden said. “Students’ health is of the utmost importance.”
Another issue many officers said they are interested in was electoral reform. Charley Cummings, vice president of Brown’s Undergraduate Council of Students, said he wants to enable all interested students to campaign for positions on the council regardless of the amount of funding available to them. Some ideas discussed at the conference included limiting campaign budgets and allocating funds for candidates.
YCC Vice President Chance Carlisle ’05 presented a few concrete suggestions for electoral reform. He said he would like to see a longer campaign period and a shorter window for actual voting. Increased campaigning will hopefully lead voters to be more invested in the process, Carlisle said.
“Groups should actually get out and endorse candidates and sponsor debates, rather than [send] a flurry of e-mails telling people to vote,” Carlisle said.
Cummings, a Brown junior, said he was particularly interested in hearing about other schools’ processes for obtaining funding from their administrations. He said he would like Brown’s funding process to be simpler, more like the processes in place at Dartmouth and Yale.
“We’d like to have a little more of an autonomous and independent budget,” Cummings said. “We’d like to spend less than half of our time lobbying for funding.”
Julia Hildreth, Dartmouth’s student-body president, said she would also like to see her school’s administration allocate more funding for student services. She mentioned student publications and identification scanners on vending machines as examples of services she hopes Dartmouth will fund.
“We’re going to try to work harder to get our administration to provide services that other schools’ administrations pay for,” said Hildreth, a senior.
Christopher Cheng, a junior and president of Columbia’s Engineering Student Council, said he enjoyed hearing different perspectives on all the issues.
“It’s interesting to hear how they do what they do, and what they think about what we do, ” he said.