200 Days in the Life of the College

Monday, October 18

‘People aren’t afraid to disagree’

By Alexandra Orlov ’13

A true Hamiltonian mix of adventurous outdoorsman, loyal fraternity brother and ambitious student, Cobus van der Ven ’11 is also, fittingly, the ultimate representative of the student body: Student Assembly president. Clad in woodsy flannel shirt, the Rockport, Maine, native and math major raps his Nalgene water bottle against a table to get everyone’s attention.

The thud brings the buzzing student representatives to order in a meeting room in the new Sadove Student Center, where the Student Assembly gathers every Monday evening. Seven officers from each class join to deliberate club funding, discuss recent campus issues and facilitate change. Elected by the student body, each member serves a one-year term. Van der Ven’s yearlong presidency will end after the fall semester.

“Welcome, everyone! Let’s bring this meeting to order.”

In an even voice, van der Ven reviews the agenda. While most meetings feature representatives breaking into committees that include Food, Social Traditions, Technology and Student Interests, the Assembly occasionally engages in group discussions about larger campus issues. Tonight’s meeting runs 45 minutes due to a lengthy conversation about alcohol use on campus.

Van der Ven moderates efficiently, offering all representatives a chance to voice opinions. He listens intently and occasionally poses questions. “I think it’s nice that people aren’t afraid to disagree and engage in beneficial discussion,” he says later.

While tonight’s debate doesn’t lead to specific changes in disciplinary policy, van der Ven believes changing policy is not the real purpose of Student Assembly. Student Assembly, he stresses, “is for the students — to discuss issues, have input in daily student life and be represented by capable peers.”

Incoming President Knute Gailor ’13 will have big, capable shoes to fill.