“There is much debate between what the university thinks we do, what students think we do, and then what we actually do,” said Freddy Coleman, class president of the class of 2017.
The class officers’ goal is to dedicate themselves to the unification of their classes, as well as working to spread awareness regarding the philanthropic culture of Lehigh. By unifying their classes, the class officers’ duty is to create a whole, proficient representation of their individual classes. This understanding of each class is then communicated to the students, faculty, staff, alumni and administration of Lehigh’s community.
Lehigh encourages student leadership on campus through the roles of the class officers. Each of the Lehigh classes has a group of elected representatives, including the president, vice president of giving, vice president of unity, vice president of marketing and class correspondent.
John Schultz, the president of the class of 2015, is a member of committees that deal with issues on campus. The committees bring many groups on campus together to share their ideas on how to reach out to the student body.
“The class officers here at Lehigh are not your typical class officers,” Schultz said. “Often times, when one thinks of a class officer, they think of the student who fights for ‘better lighting off campus’ or ‘new stairs up to the UC.’ The Student Senate does most of these things, although we do provide input on certain topics.”
Coleman described his role as a class officer as time-consuming, but very rewarding
“Class officers are often tapped to participate in administrative committees as a voice for the student body,” Coleman said. “As a class officer, we have considerable amount of control of our work schedule. As the years progress, it gets busier. Like I can say for my class cabinet, everyone has been working harder as we plan events for this year and next.
With regard to the amount of responsibility, Schultz agreed.
“I’d say overall it is quite a time commitment, especially to be dedicated enough to do the kind of job Lehigh deserves,” Schultz said.
Coleman said that the officers also are in contact with Student Affairs, the provost’s office and the president.
“The class officers do a number of different things, from collaborating with other student groups in planning traditional Lehigh events (…) many events during Lehigh-Laf week, for instance, including bed races, and designing and marketing our class ring,” Schultz said.
As explained on Lehigh’s website, each role of the student officers requires different duties. The president represents his or her class and is the head of the other officers. The vice president of giving is in charge of opportunities for philanthropy. The vice president of unity plans activities to bond classmates. The vice president of marketing is in charge of public relations for the class. The class correspondent shares students stories and also serves as secretary.
With all of the various responsibilities, the class officers have a weekly meeting. These meetings are led by Casey Sharkey, who is both the class officer adviser and the Association of Student Alumni adviser. In addition, the class presidents attend a biweekly council of student presidents meeting, which is led by Dean of Students Sharon Basso. These roles also demand more outside planning and work that goes on outside of the meetings, as the class officers are constantly working with the Lehigh Fund (the sponsoring department) and the Office of Advancement.
This year’s senior class officers recently held the senior class gift campaign. Jase Swinden, ’15, and Schultz both gave speeches about the importance of giving back to the school. They also announced that if the senior class reaches a certain participation level of donors, an endowed scholarship for future Lehigh students’ financial support would be created in the class of 2015’s name.
“This year, our big project is the senior class gift campaign,” Schultz said. “The idea behind the giving campaign is to help seniors realize what’s made their Lehigh experience special and to give back.”