Why We Should Combine SLC and CPB

Comparing the Social Life Chair (SLC) and the College Programming Board (CPB) is like comparing apples and oranges. That is, if the apple in question is also a perfect sphere, orange-colored, and tastes like an orange. Both groups have eerily similar functions. The CPB is a board of elected officials that plans alcohol-free events and activities for students at Claremont McKenna College (CMC). Alexandra Cooke '14, the current SLC chair, is required by the Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College (ASCMC) constitution to “coordinate non-alcoholic activities for the student body." If you just did a double take, you’re not alone because CPB and SLC have essentially the exact same purpose. The only differences? CPB has deeper pockets, different funding sources and an unelected leader.

This article is not intended to disparage either Cooke or the current CPB chair Christina Khavarian '12.  As dozens of airbrushed unicorn tattoos and decorated holiday cookies will attest, they have each done a fantastic job of keeping us entertained, happy, and well-fed inside and outside our Claremont bubble.

Still, from budget differences to election practices or lack thereof, it seems that the CPB chair and SLC chair are two positions that could easily be merged in order to truly benefit the students and be most effective. If combined, the new “dry chair” could pool monetary resources from two sources and avoid the inefficient overlap in positions that currently exists.  The position of SLC chair should be eliminated altogether and the CPB Chair should be elected by the students to allocate funds from both the DoS Office and ASCMC. This does raise a few problems: will ASCMC become nothing more than a glorified party-planning committee? Where will the money allocated to the SLC chair go? Because the CPB is not governed by a constitution, would the interests of students truly be spoken for?

Cooke sums up budgetary concerns perfectly, “The main differences between the two are simply where their funds come from and the sizes of the budgets. My budget comes from ASCMC and CPB’s budget comes from the Board of Trustees and is allocated by Jim Nauls in the Dean of Students Office." Cooke notes that CPB’s budget is approximately 10 times larger than her SLC budget and reiterates, “I work for ASCMC and CPB works for Dean Nauls. While I have a constitution, an executive board and a budgeting committee to oversee how I spend my budget, CPB is guided by Dean Nauls.”

Don’t get me wrong, it is indeed admirable that CMC students (via CPB) are now in charge of allocating the funds the Dean of Students Office has appropriated for student activities, but it just seems convoluted to split funds (unevenly) between ASCMC representative Cooke and CPB’s 14-person board. CPB gets to sponsor the big names like Demetri Martin, take students to Dodgers  games, and bring Kogi trucks while Cooke only has the funds to sponsor No Shave November contests and cookie-decorating.

Then there’s the matter of the election process. As Cooke puts it, “ASCMC has a constitution that mandates the fair election of an SLC; CPB does not (yet).”

Indeed, this is how the election for CPB student representatives went in Appleby Dorm. Resident Assistant Jordan Santo '12 asked his residents, “Who wants to be our CPB rep?”  Silence. “Seriously guys…someone…anyone?” Someone tentatively raised their hand, and thus, a new CPB representative was born!  It was hardly the best example of political activism at CMC, and while the process may not have been the same in other dorms, it's hard to imagine that there was any hard-core campaigning going on.

Yes, Cooke ran unopposed, but she still had to make her future plans known and tell us what she intended to do as SLC chair.  Besides, a certain sneaky “Write-In” (John Faranda, perhaps?) gave her a run for her money by winning 27.37% of the vote. Students had to actively take thirty seconds out of their day to check boxes and that, my friends, is democracy.

While the individual members of the board were elected, Khavarian was chosen by Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Activities Jim Nauls and was not elected to her position.

In an earlier Forum article introducing CPB to the campus at large, Jim Nauls was quoted as saying “she will not have any more say in the events than other students on the board.”

CMC is all about choosing their leaders and controlling spending (trust me, I’ve seen Senate debate the merits of a various garden plants for over a half hour), and I find it hard to believe that this decision didn’t ruffle a few feathers. Yes, the idea of a CPB tyrant imposing miserable activities on sober students is preposterous, but shouldn’t the students have more of an active role in choosing who plans activities on their behalf?

When it comes to the CPB and SLC chair Cooke, the method of “divide and conquer” has become "divide and do the same thing with different funding and varying degrees of student input."   Add to this the fact that there is very little if any communication between the two, and it’s clearly time to combine and conquer.

Though much of what we see from ASCMC as students are events like Monte Carlo or the "party inform," ASCMC isn’t simply a governing body debating the merits of various themes (or so we hope).  As a group of leaders trying to create the best community for all of us, I believe ASCMC could get used to the idea of contributing what funding it previously used for SLC chair to CPB’s fund so we could benefit from both resources.

Cooke agrees that some cooperation could benefit both groups. "I think CPB and SLC have great potential to work together…the two groups should collaborate more, to maximize great events.”  If the SLC chair simply becomes CPB chair, eliminating redundancies and allowing for fair elections, CMC students can have the best of both worlds. Imagine a glorious campus where you can nosh on hand-decorated cookies while laughing uproariously at Demetri Martin. Dreams do come true.

Ultimately, both groups joining forces to accomplish the exact same thing can only create and fund even better activities for all of us. Personally, I’d like to see some collaboration or I’ll be forced to adopt the much less catchy slogan (my apologies to Patrick Henry), “Give me a fairly elected group of students with shared funding to provide booze-free entertainment, or give me death!”