"Why does a graduate residence need a government?" you might wonder. "What is there for it to do?"
The following story gets at the answer. Whether or not you've heard it before, it's worth a laugh -- and a moment's thought.
This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it.
It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
Whether you want to call it laziness or the prisoner's dilemma, you've probably been in this situation more times than you'd like. Ready for something different? That's what the S-P government is here for.
For the most part, it's true that our government has little "governing" to do in the legislative sense of the word; the house council does set house policies as needed, but policies tend to change little from year to year. (After all, why change something that works?) On the other hand, our government plays huge roles in building the house community and making S-P a nice place to live. Regarding the former, our officers organize myriad events to promote social interaction among residents -- and, of course, provide opportunities to have fun. As for to latter, our officers also take sole responsibility for maintaining many resources in the building, from our computer room to our rental bikes. Follow these links for full lists of current officers and officer position descriptions.
Speaking of our officers, they're a talented crew -- probably not unlike you. What characterizes them, however, is their willingness to apply their talents for the betterment of this community. When there's a job that needs doing, they're the folks who'll reply within an hour and volunteer to get it done, no matter whether it's everybody's, somebody's, or nobody's responsibility. That's not the usual story -- and that's why S-P isn't your usual graduate dorm.
Why do they do it? Not for power and certainly not for money (officers aren't paid in any way unless you count the occasional free meal). Rather, our officers do it pretty much just for the satisfaction of doing a job well and making people happy -- and, of course, having a good time doing it. It's part of the culture of service we strive to develop here. Curious? Check out our Get Involved! page for more.
Committee chairs and co-chairs form the bulk of the government, performing a wide variety of tasks. Hall councilors serve the same role in each hall, representing residents and building community on a per-hall level.
To coordinate the efforts of the government, the house council is divided into five offices, each headed by a SPEC member:
The entire house council meets once per month, usually at 8pm on the first Tuesday of the month. All interested residents are welcome to attend and minutes are published online after each meeting.
Finally, the Board of Trustees serves as an independent, judicial branch of the government that administrates elections and ensures that the S-P Constitution is observed.
Selection and Election
House council membership turns over each year in April through a mixture of appointments and elections, striking a balance between efficiency and representation. New SPEC members are nominated by the community and elected by the house council in early April. The incoming SPEC then appoints committee chairs for the upcoming year based on written applications and in-person interviews. Meanwhile, hall councilors are elected directly by the residents of each hall.
All residents are eligible to apply or run for any office. Details about how to apply are made available during application season. Residents are also welcome -- and encouraged! -- to serve on any committee they wish simply by contacting the appropriate committee chair. Help is always appreciated: the more volunteers a committee has, the more it can accomplish. Get Involved!
Sidney-Pacific residents pay a $6 per month house tax that contributes to the operating expenses of the government, primarily the cost of events and equipment. Many residents may be surprised to find out that the house tax only accounts for a fraction -- roughly one-third -- of the house budget, however. The remaining funds are obtained through applications that SPEC writes to the GSC Funding Board, the Deans of Graduate Education and Student Life, and several other sources.
For more information on the S-P house government, please feel free to talk to any of our officers or contact SPEC.