Last year, during Harambe Unity Festival here at Swarthmore, Wilson and I set up a table for poetic distribution.
meet the prez
One of our first customers was Swarthmore President Alfred Bloom. His requested topic was meditations of the office of the president. Wilson and I each riffed on it, Vachel Lindsey turned up somewhere, we handed it over.
It got me to thinking. How could Al be a better president? From my standpoint, he needed to be more in touch with the students. I hear that he makes appearances at sporting events, but otherwise he is rarely accessible to the body of the school.
I have three ideas for Al:
meal / public sitting
Al has office hours, time he remains behind his desk accessable to student visitors. To see him, you have to know where the presidents office is, and take the trip up there. On a regularly scheduled basis, Al should also sit in public space, say Parrish Parlours or Tarble Lounge. Students could see him available, and he could take part in informal group discussions encouraged by the informal setting.
I ran this idea by my brother and he noted that the President of Amherst eats a meal in the cafeteria each week. Every Tuesday night, you know the president will be in the upstairs dining hall, eating the same grub, and ready to hang with some students. Now I don't remember the last time I saw Al Bloom in Sharples, but if I saw him there once a week, I would feel better about my Swarthmore education.
Along similar lines, Al could make himself available to a larger potential community by regularly appearing on the radio and taking students calls. A sort of Larry King accountability more than Saturday Radio Addresses. I have applied for a half hour interview show once a week where I would love to have Al taking student calls.
My first year, my roommate Dan decided to invite Al to our study break. It was a big hit; Al brought a few refreshements, people took pictures with him, had him sign things, I recorded his voice into my laptop. Meeting him in our space felt good, like he was willing to put himself even a little at risk to get to know us.
I heard people say,
"that's Al Bloom? I've never seen him before." Al should host a study break in each dorm once through the year. It would be a large step towards intimacy.