On April 4, Scot Council announced executive board candidates for the 2022-23 academic year. With only one student running per position, the election was uncontested, raising questions about the government body’s election processes and the College’s student engagement.
Scot Council President, Emmy Todd ’22, detailed the election process, which Scot Council amended this year to ensure that only candidates with one year of experience were eligible for office.
“Scot Council’s executive board election process started the week before spring break with us having a final vote on an amendment to our constitution and bylaws that changed eligibility for running for executive board from simply having to have served on Scot Council to having to have served on Scot Council for a full term,” Todd said, “meaning people who quit and first-year representatives are not eligible to run.”
Scot Council made the amendment “after a full semester of discussion, a vote on it passing the Constitution and Rules Committee, and then a vote passing Scot Council,” who unanimously approved the amendment.
The current executive board encouraged eligible council members to run for the new board. Some students, however, criticized the election process, citing a lack of amendment coverage as well as candidates. Vice President of Scot Council Rishika Todi ’22 said some students personally reached out to the council about the process, leading to a council apology on the amendment. “We will from now have a larger social media presence and are even working on making meeting minutes more accessible to the campus body,” Todd said.
Todd supported the amendment, emphasizing the importance of committed council members to encourage retention and spark interest. “To increase student involvement on the Scot Council executive board, having dedicated and involved general council members is essential to ensure they want to continue their Scot Council work on to the executive board,” she said.
When asked about the lack of student interest for the Council, Todd said elections have been uncontested for “the past four years and beyond.” Todd also said students running for the executive board must be on-campus for the entire academic year, which eliminates those students who want to study off-campus. She concluded, “Finally, the executive board is an extremely demanding position and sometimes students wish to serve on other club’s executive boards and sometimes students will choose paid employment over the unpaid work of Scot Council.”
Although lack of student engagement has been apparent in student government for many years, faculty members have also recognized a decline in student participation and engagement in their classes. Associate Professor of Economics & Business Economics Amyaz Moledina, who has been a professor at the College for two decades, spoke of a shift in participation in his classes. “My classes used to be very well attended,” Moledina reflected. “However, I have seen average attendance decrease since the pandemic.”
He continued, “Students have been getting sick or refraining from coming to class when they are unwell. It’s great when students inform me that they are unable to come to class. What worries me the most is the population of students I hear nothing from despite me reaching out to them. That population has also risen. Because we have such diverse populations, I hesitate to attribute this all to COVID or the catch-all ‘mental health’ crises.”
Moledina empathized with different situations that students may be facing. “Some of my students come from parts of the world that are suffering from conflict or their families are in economic hardship. Others come from families where they are the primary emotional and sometimes financial supporter.” He continued, “Going to school actually puts a double burden on such students. In some cases, ‘talking to your professor’ is a learned concept that not everyone is comfortable with. So attendance is down, yes, but I have to be careful to understand what is ailing each student — what’s coming in the way of coming to learn in the community. I cannot solve all their challenges but I can try to understand where they are coming from and let students know I am here for them.”
“At best, I have to leave my door open,” Moledina concluded.