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Sendoff Rumors Prompt Inquiry

Sendoff Rumors Prompt Inquiry

By Marika Garland and Erin Mershon

In a move that is raising questions about its jurisdiction over student organizations, Student Council requested a last-minute meeting with Social Board leaders this Sunday to discuss a rumor concerning Summer Sendoff.

The Council was concerned about a rumor that Social Board was considering changing the date for Sendoff from a Saturday to a Friday.

Some Student Council officers learned of the rumor at a meeting of student leaders called by Dean of Students Hank Toutain on Jan. 23. Students at the meeting asked Toutain if he had any information about a possible date change, according to Student Council President Ryan Motevalli-Oliner ’12. He did not.

Social Board has not released information about the date because the College is still signing final contracts. As they do every year, those students involved in planning Sendoff signed confidentiality agreements that cover all aspects of the event.

The date is “still being discussed,” according to Social Board Co-Chair Lianne Castille ’13.

Still, “there’s nothing that anyone can do to stop what’s happening from happening this year,” Motevalli-Oliner said.

Director of Student Activities & Greek Life Christina Mastrangelo and Assistant Director of Student Activities and Social Board’s Advisor Annie Vleck, who work closely with Social Board to plan Sendoff, both declined to comment for this article.

Hoping for a better understanding of Social Board’s decision-making process regarding Sendoff, Student Council requested Sunday’s last-minute meeting.

Social Board declined the Council’s initial request, but its Co-Chairs Castile and Sarah Schiller ’14 met privately with Motevalli-Oliner on Wed., Feb. 1.

“We felt that it would be better just to meet with Ryan separately,” Castile said. “… This is the first time Student Council has expressed interest in [planning Sendoff], so that’s why we’re meeting with them.”

Though Student Council has an interest in the event, they did not intend to control the group’s decisions, according to Motevalli-Oliner.

“We’re not Social Board. We’re not planning Sendoff,” he said. “But we wanted to make it more candid, [and see why] decisions are being made one way or the other. [We’re] just making sure that, because it’s a lot of money, we have some idea what’s going on. We don’t need to know the details, but we should have some idea what’s going on.”

At their meeting, Social Board co-chairs told Motevalli-Oliner that they are taking student input from last year’s Sendoff survey into account for planning this year’s event, he said.

“The final decision comes down to Social Board, and I completely back them in whatever decision they make,” he said.

Students’ emotional attachment to the event intensifies reactions to rumors and potential changes, Motevalli-Oliner said.

“This is a sensitive issue because it’s Sendoff,” he said. “… People are going to complain no matter what happens – who the band is, what day it is. People complain about everything.”

Student Council’s involvement is “a little odd,” Castile said. “But since it’s the biggest event of the year, it makes sense. It’s justified that they’re interested.”

Because the event is so important to students, Social Board traditionally keeps the details of the event secret until they are finalized.

“We’re trying to keep everything under wraps so it’s a bigger surprise, and also more exciting for the student body,” Castile said. “… Whenever we get contracts finalized, there will be an announcement [about the bands]. Hopefully soon.”

The issue with Social Board led Student Council to reconsider its role in overseeing student organizations with large budgets.

“There should be open communication lines between groups and either the [Business and Finance Committee] Co-Chairs or the [Vice President] of Student Life, who [oversee] groups and spending, if there are large sums of the BFC budget,” Motevalli-Oliner said.

Student Council spent a good deal of Sunday’s weekly meeting discussing its jurisdiction over student groups.

“There’s a long continuum between benign neglect at one end and micromanaging at the other end,” said Toutain, who was present at Sunday’s meeting. “Where’s the sweet spot? … I don’t know. That would be up to [Student Council] to decide.”

Since Student Council doesn’t currently require updates from groups after the BFC allocates funding, “groups and organizations legitimately hear ‘Do your thing. We’re going to give you some money to do what you do. Go do it,'” Toutain said.

Nothing in the Student Council constitution or bylaws addresses Student Council’s jurisdiction over groups and their decisions after they have received funding, according to Toutain.

“I don’t think it’s our responsibility to make sure the groups are doing what [Student Council thinks] they should do,” Motevalli-Oliner said. “… We’re not going to be looking over people’s shoulders making sure they do what we want.”

Additional reporting by August Steigmeyer.

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