The Dean's Advisory Council (DAC) is currently accepting applications from the College for new council members, providing an opportunity for students to discuss their issues and concerns directly with the administration.
The DAC was created in 2001 following the appointment of Susan Art as the dean of students in the College. "The council was initiated to provide a format for student issues to be aired, and to create a group of students that I could float ideas to," Art said.
The council, consisting of Art, a number of College advisors, and 12 undergraduate students, convenes approximately three times a quarter. It covers issues including the difficulties faced by first-year students, the improvement of student-faculty relations, and the manner in which the University responds to student deaths.
"We are not setting up a new place to go if you have problems with meal plans, buses, your advisor, etc. I think that would still be SG's online complaint box," said Andrew Elliott-Chandler, current chairperson of the DAC. "We don't try to simply enforce student will or explain administrative policies, we try to make students and deans go 'Hmmm. I didn't realize that."
Although the DAC's main purpose is to facilitate understanding between the student body and the administration, there have been instances in which the DAC has been able to help the dean change procedure to address issues.
Through its advisory function, the DAC has been able to improve the helpfulness of the dean's office. These changes have been minor, but are considered to be important in contributing to the overall enjoyment of student life.
"When we talk about more singular, concrete issues, they're often those that fall through the cracks," Elliott-Chandler said.
In previous years, incoming students have often been unsure of how to utilize their advisors in negotiating class registration. In response to the DAC's discussion, advisors last year began contacting freshmen over the summer with informational letters explaining their roles and resources.
Despite its work, the council has remained relatively anonymous in the College. According to Elliott-Chandler, the DAC's low profile is a result of the numerous changes made this year to improve its role. However, now that a working structure has been finalized, the council plans to unveil itself to the student body.
A large part of the DAC's new publicity effort, which aims to make the council more visible to students, will be the creation of a monthly column in the Maroon. According to Elliott-Chandler, the piece will announce pending discussion topics and allow students to write in with related experiences and concerns. These issues will then be addressed in a follow-up article after the DAC meeting and, hopefully, improve upon the stereotypical apathy of the student body, Elliot-Chandler said.
Art has high expectations for the council's future, seeing it as a dynamic organization. "My hope is that the council could evolve as our needs evolve, and as discussion topics change according to what we and students perceive as issues," she said.
Applicants are chosen by the present student members of the DAC, who want to select from a wide variety of backgrounds to ensure that opinions are being heard from a broad cross section of the student body. Factors considered in the process are years in the College, concentration, housing locations, ethnicity, and extracurricular activities.
Five new members will be taken from the applicant pool, while another five will be retained from the current council. Additionally, one council position is reserved for SG appointment, while a member of the incoming class will be nominated by advisors in fall quarter to fill the last slot.
Applications for the DAC positions are due on May 22. Interested students can apply by contacting their advisors.