Norris-Yau Tackles Internal Communication

With the spring term has come a new group of Student Council representatives, headed by Mpilo Norris ’18 and Julian Yau ’18. There are many procedures to be followed in the passing of the baton between the outgoing president and vice president, one of which is accounting for finances and making sure that the proceeds from the Daily Grind are sent to an organization chosen by the Council. This year, the Daily Grind raised money for Call to Care Uganda, a humanitarian non-profit organization based in Madison, Connecticut.

While in the past the Student Council has voted on an organization to donate to for the year, in recent years, the process for choosing a charity has been modified. Students, who as consumers play an integral role in raising the funds for donations, can now submit suggestions for a charity via an online survey. The Council members then read through the survey answers and invite those students with the most appealing suggestion to join a Council meeting to give a short elevator pitch.

Julian Yau ’18, the newly elected Vice President, explained, “In the past years, we’ve used student input to determine which organization to donate to. It’s always been important to choose one that is generally appealing in order to promote engagement in the Daily Grind. I hope to accomplish this through surveys and casual discussions.”

Namsai Sethpornpong ’17 added about the choice, “The person that elevator pitched for Call to Care Uganda was Joseph Coyne ’19. We chose this charity because it is based in Madison and it’s really small, so our donations take a large percentage of money that goes to the charity. We usually don’t go for big charities anymore because it’s such little money that it does make as big of an impact.”

However, donating the money has not come without any obstacles. In reviewing funds, it was discovered that the funds raised by the Daily Grind for the past three years had not been donated to the organizations chosen by each cabinet. This was due to a variety of factors, including miscommunication between the advisors, students, and the financial office. Another factor that could have caused confusion was communication between the outgoing group of Council members and the incoming group of Council members. This will be mediated this year on March 31, the date that marks the fiscal turnover from the former to the newly elected Student Council. All of the checks from the previous years will be sent to their respective organizations, along with the check to Call to Care Uganda.

Mpilo Norris ’18, the newly elected President, described the situation. “No one was particularly aware of this fact. The way that we as a council found out was that I actually asked a question at our last meeting to see if those funds had been sent. At the back of my mind, I remembered at one meeting during the spring term last year that those funds hadn’t been sent, for whatever reason. I was actually hesitant to ask that question because I thought, ‘That’s a stupid question. Of course the funds have been sent.’ Our adviser actually let us know that those funds hadn’t been sent. Once we learned that, Namsai essentially stopped the meeting and said, ‘That’s something we need to focus on right now.’ We drafted a letter that’s not only going to be sent to our charity organization, Call to Care Uganda, but also past organizations.”

This incident has prompted the newly elected Vice President to formulate his vision going forward regarding how similar incidents can be avoided in the future. About his view on accountability and transparency regarding the activities of the Daily Grind, Yau commented, “I believe that closer and more proactive work with The Choate News will allow us to hold ourselves accountable as members of Student Council. If we do badly, people need to know. This will encourage us to stay on top of things and live up to expectations.”

Additionally, the Daily Grind may face more obstacles in the coming year. Currently, the Daily Grind takes place every Friday during conference period, providing those students without a lunch block an opportunity to grab a snack or a meal. However, with the new schedule in which conference periods take place in the beginning of the day, the main function of the Daily Grind as it stands currently will be challenged. Also, the Lanphier Café has proved itself as tough competition in sales. 

Norris said about the future of the tradition, “We recognized as a council that it is the role of the Daily Grind to be a charitable organization on its own. I think we’ve done a lot of experimentation in terms of how we can expand the Daily Grind beyond the Daily Grind. We’ve experimented with having it at Deerfield Day and other events such as that. And we’ve been talking about expanding it to Arts events or other smaller events… I think it’s really up to Julian, our new Vice President to think creatively.”

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