The Undergraduate Council of Students handles student government. The Undergraduate Finance Board takes care of the finances. And a third group of organizations — the Class Boards — focuses primarily on the social aspect of Brown students' daily lives, according to Salsabil Ahmed '11, a member of the 2011 Class Board.
The boards' mission is threefold, Director of Student Activities Phil O'Hara '55 said. They work on community building among the classes, strive to promote student-alumni relations and foster relationships between the upper and lower classes, he said.
According to O'Hara, Class Boards is a relatively new institution. "They have a very challenging job because before 2004, there was no organization like this on campus."
Prior to the formation of the boards, there was no funding for Senior Week and the group responsible for organizing the week's events was under Alumni Relations, O'Hara said.
But in 2004, the administration moved to create the Senior Class Board, in order to unite the senior class before leaving and to plan their Senior Week and post-graduation events, such as reunions, wrote Junior Class President Neil Parikh '11 in an e-mail to the Herald.
"The goal was to create a Senior Week for everyone," O'Hara said. "They've done a terrific job and it gets better every year."
The Senior Class Board was a great success among students and administrators, Parikh wrote, and so through a joint venture between the Student Activities Office and the Alumni Relations Office, the class boards were expanded, Parikh wrote.
The boards were constituted as a Category 3 group by the UCS in April 2004, said O'Hara. They are affiliated both with the SAO and Alumni Relations, working with advisors O'Hara and Julie Schmidt, associate director of university and alumni outreach, from each organization, he added.
"I meet with them once a week and they set the agenda," O'Hara said. "I try not to look over their shoulders."
"We really try to work with the administration," Ahmed said. "We have to make sure everyone's on the same page."
Since their inception, the boards have been very successful in their attempts to organize events such as last Spring Weekend's Foam Party and a concert featuring European pop group Gunther and the Sunshine Girls in 2008, said Parikh.
"All of our ideas come from students," he said. "They wanted to bring Gunther to Brown and we found a way to do it. We're pushing the boundaries of what you can do at Brown."
"We try to go all out," Ahmed said. "Sometimes other student groups can't get past barriers. We can because we have the backing of Phil, the SAO and Alumni Relations."
The boards have also improved safety concerns voiced by the SAO, according to O'Hara. The SAO made several suggestions concerning the overcrowding at off-campus events and the propensity of Brown students left behind at these gatherings, he said.
In response to these concerns, the boards have worked to let students know the size of an event's venue in advance and also to begin using shuttles to transport Brown students safely back and forth from events, said O'Hara.
Events sponsored by the class boards are planned both for their individual classes and for the student body at large, Parikh wrote. Because of UFB funding policies, their events must be open to all Brown students so they generally advertise events to all classes, though each board targets their own year, he added.
Parikh said the boards would be working on planning more events for their individual classes or offering them incentives, such as paying half-price admission fees.
The class boards are also struggling to brand their individual classes, Parikh said. Their mission "sometimes goes against the independent culture of Brown," Parikh said. "We have to find the unifying thread that brings them together."
With only six years of experience, however, the class boards are still getting their footing.
"We're not going to succeed at everything we do," Parikh said. "But if we do everything 75 percent very well, I think we're doing a good job."
"This is a laboratory here," O'Hara said. "It's about progress, not perfection."
The class boards' biggest obstacle is funding, Parikh said.
UFB doesn't fund the class boards in any significant way, O'Hara said. "When the class boards started, they had no money."
Although fundraising has sometimes made it difficult for event planning, one of the greatest accomplishments of the Class Boards has been to generate revenue for Alumni Relations, said O'Hara. After graduation, the net funds remaining from Senior Week proceeds are deposited in the senior class' own alumni account, after disbursements to other class boards and the class' gift to the Brown Annual Fund.
"When you come back for your five-year reunion, they already have a treasury started," O'Hara said. "Since 2004, no class has left without a nice little kitty. It's there personally for them."
These funds come both from fees seniors pay at the beginning of the year for their Senior Week activities and from seed money President Ruth Simmons gives the class boards each year to plan these activities, according to O'Hara.
"The integrity of this school is the undergraduates," he said. "And Class Boards is a jewel of an organization working to keep it that way."
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the class boards raise funds for Alumni Relations. After graduation, the net funds remaining from Senior Week proceeds are deposited in the senior class' own alumni account, after disbursements to other class boards and the class' gift to the Brown Annual Fund.