Scot Council, created last spring after a merger of the Student Government Association (SGA) and Campus Council (CC), is trying to prove itself as a strong voice of the student body to the faculty, staff and administration. Scot Council President Olivia Proe ’21 stated that both SGA and CC “were campus governing bodies with different powers, and to streamline our advocacy, a group of students formed the Oversight Committee to condense them into one.” This committee worked for over a year to create an organization that is able to best advocate for the well-being and positive experiences of the student body.
Despite the apparent streamlining, being a new organization has its difficulties. “We are facing some challenges in putting a theoretical constitution into practice for the first time,” Proe stated. However, she also mentioned that the organization is navigating the challenges efficiently. “Our constitution was intentionally written to be flexible, which has been immensely helpful during the pandemic” she noted. Scot Council Vice President Samuel Casey ’21 said, “Over the summer, every single member of Scot Council has worked extra hard to adapt to the new guidelines while still focusing on our responsibilities.” Consisting of 12 class-year representatives and four identity-based constituency representatives, Proe stated that she is “confident we’re laying groundwork for better campus advocacy.”
“Being a new organization in the midst of a pandemic has been difficult,” said Proe. However, the new online format has proven to be more inclusive than ever. Choosing to move completely online in compliance with social distancing guidelines, the organization’s meetings are currently held over Microsoft Teams. This allows for the inclusion of remote students wherever they are in the world and these meetings are open to the student body at large as well.
Proe commented, “In some ways, I’m glad that we have online options now, especially since we’re more accessible as campus leaders.” Moreover, to promote transparency, Scot Council has “a public SharePoint with all meeting recordings and minutes if students want to see what is being worked on.”
To ensure the safety of students at the College, Scot Council “created a COVID-19 ad hoc committee which has been meeting since May to make suggestions about the way Wooster should function within social distancing guidelines and still make it the best experience possible.” Under the leadership of Zoie Bills ’21, the organization met regularly with Dean of Students Myrna Hernández and President Sarah Bolton to relay student concerns about Wooster during the pandemic. This committee is still active, so students are welcome to reach out to the Council with any concerns about COVID-19 and they can do their best to advocate for them.
Casey also stressed the importance of staying safe during the pandemic. “I think our first goal is to do everything we can to stay on campus this year. Making sure everyone understands the importance of the COVID-19 guidelines will be a major focus because of the situation we’re in.”
However, this responsibility does not just fall on students. “On the other hand, we want to hold the administration accountable to make sure the guidelines are both equitable and not arbitrary. We also don’t want the burden to be put on a certain group of students, like RAs,” says Casey.
During the summer, Scot Council also drafted and circulated a statement in response to the Black Lives Matter movement as their commitment to create tangible ways to improve the campus for Black students at Wooster continued. Members Doug Morris ’22, Maresa Tate ’21, Angela Danso Gyane ’21, Cesar Lopez ’21 and Zoie Bills ‘21 “spearheaded this statement in collaboration with all of our council members and guidance from BSA, ASU and BWO. Some of these goals are already in action. “[We are] involving Dr. Ivonne García, our Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, as a voting member of the body,” said Proe.
Later in the year, Scot Council plans to take concrete action to implement change. This includes “revising the budget process to include diversity advocates, revisiting documents from the Galpin Call-in, requiring chartered organizations to create anti-racist goals, attending anti-bias training and reviewing the Scot’s Key for language that disproportionately affects BIPOC students.” Proe stated, “We recognize that anti-racist work will never be completed in a year, but I hope we can lay tracks for it to continue into future years. Ultimately, my hope is that current and future Black students at the College will feel fully welcome and appreciated, and it is our responsibility as a governing body to support them in all of their work to make campus a better place.”
Proe stressed that “students are always welcome to come to us with their concerns, whether it’s a one-on-one conversation with a representative or coming to our meetings and speaking at open discussion.” A major addition this year will be the inclusion of first-years and any interested students. Casey stated that “elections will occur around the week previously known as fall break. We are really looking forward to finally including all students in student governance.”
Furthermore, Casey encourages “everyone to attend the general meetings on Mondays at 7 p.m. This is where you can hear about what’s happening on campus, our initiatives and raise your own concerns.” Students are able to access the Scot Council website at any time to reach out with questions and concerns, as well as by submitting an anonymous comment form that will be available to students soon. Proe reminds Wooster, “We’re here to be your advocates, so don’t be afraid to ask about anything.”