Senior Week isn’t in danger

During the past few years, the Class of 2009 has witnessed many improvements in student life at the College. From concerts to speakers, the College continues to improve on the quality of programs for our student body. Senior Week has also undergone a major transition in recent years. We have witnessed Senior Week survive a major change in policy, and ultimately become a more meaningful, significant and reflective program of the student experience.

However, many misconceptions still exist regarding Senior Week. This is understandable because of the nature of the program. By the time students participate in Senior Week, it is time for them to graduate. That leaves the responsibility of addressing the needs of this vital program to the Senior Class Council. At this point, it has become necessary to address some incorrect facts that have been perpetuated about our program. Last week’s Signal ran a front-page article where the executive director of the Student Finance Board (SFB) falsely claimed that Senior Week would be canceled without support from the Student Activity Fee (SAF) as a result of poor planning.

To set the record straight, Senior Week 2009 was never in danger of being canceled. We have worked diligently in planning this program for more than a year and have been well aware of our costs and funding sources all along. We operate under the principle that every senior should be able to go to Senior Week if they choose. We’ve developed a number of budgets, plans and strategies to ensure the delivery of this program.

The total cost of the program is nearly $220,000. To provide a quality program, the actual per-person costs are nearly $500 – far beyond the affordability of a College student. Therefore, registration costs were kept at $195. We receive additional support from College offices, such as Student Affairs subsidies and contributions from the Alumni Association, which totals approximately $80,000. The Class of 2009 has also contributed their fair share of fundraising, totaling more than $10,000. Have there been financial barriers to overcome that we’ve been working on since last spring? Absolutely. Did we begin the programming of Senior Week before we had our entire budget set? Yes, we did.

Every other large-scale program on this campus falls into a similar situation. Its costs are higher than what students are able to afford. This is part of why the SAF was established: to give students the opportunity to attend high-quality events without an exuberantly high price tag. SFB has policies in place to guide the process to allocate these funds. Just as we are representatives of the Senior Class, SFB is responsible to act in the best interest of the student body. Over the course of this year, student leaders from the Student Government Assosciation (SGA), SFB and the class councils have worked extremely hard to develop a funding model that corresponds to the situation that class-specific programming presents. It is our belief that this hard work has created an understanding of the need to increase class identity.

During the past 10 years of Senior Week, SAF contributions have ranged from $5,600 to $40,000. Why is Senior Week deserving of these funds? Senior Week and other class-specific programming at the College exist to solve one of the major issues with the College experience at this institution – a lack of class identity. With the cooperation of SGA, SFB and the rest of the campus community, we can address these issues.

The beginning of attending the College is all about the First Year Experience, which is filled with resources, and a great sense of class identity. These resources drop off significantly after the first year until senior year which provides an abundance of class-specific programs like Senior Week. This program is so vital to this campus not only because it is an extremely fun and deserving week that precedes graduation – which we are confident that it will be – but also because it is one of the only programs that really serves to create unity and identity within the senior class.

As representatives of the senior class, we are grateful for the support that we have received from SGA, SFB, the college administration and the senior class. Our hope is for years to come, there is a great deal of cooperation among organizations which provide for consistent policies and teamwork. This would pave the way for more traditions and College pride, just as Senior Week has provided for the past 10 years. We encourage the student body to advocate for what they want to see in future Senior Weeks. Contact your class officers, SGA, SFB and campus administration. Write e-mails, write to The Signal, create Facebook groups, come to one of our meetings. Senior Week is your program, and it exists to serve your needs. We encourage all students at the College to protect it as such.

Dan Eckrote, Senior Class President

and Danielle Lagnese, Senior Class Treasurer