<< Front page Commentary May 14, 2004

Student senator in adversity

To the Editors:

I have transferred to Oberlin almost two years ago, and I have never once questioned my decision to transfer to Oberlin College. I have dedicated a great deal of my personal time to giving back to the Oberlin community; one way was by running and being elected to Student Senate.

I enjoy being a senator, and while I often find some parts of Student Senate frustrating, I still find it rewarding having the opportunity to represent the Oberlin community.

Last Sunday, however, my opinions of Student Senate changed. During the Student Senate meeting, my voice and the voice of another student was silenced.

It all started over a referendum question, which was “Would you be in favor of a policy in your Oberlin College Student Health Insurance wherein you could choose to redirect any of your insurance money that went towards abortion procedures and put it towards pre- and post-natal care?”

The majority of students who voted on this question, 600 students to be exact, voted in favor, while 516 students voted no and 425 abstained. One Student Senator thought that the question was poorly written and should be removed.

I think that the question was poorly written, but I did not think that we should remove the question after the student body has voted on it. The question should have not gone on the referendum in the first place.

Members of Student Senate should have done a better job of educating the student body. Furthermore, if the question was truly that confusing, then students could have abstained, which many students did.

I asked members of Student Senate if they would table the discussion and allow me to call Rick Hoffman, the person who brought the question to senate, so that he could voice his opinion. Senate denied my request, but I called Rick Hoffman anyway.

I personally found this situation insulting and against the purpose of senate. I thought that senate was supposed to represent the student body.

When Rick arrived, Student Senate denied him the right to talk, and voted to remove the question without listening to his opinion. Rick asked senate if he could say something before they voted, but senate said no.

After this, I decided that I no longer wanted to be a part of Student Senate. Every person has a right to be heard, and I think that it is the senate’s job to listen to students. No person should be silenced.

I transferred to Oberlin College because my voice was silenced at my former college. Students thought it was funny to burn a cross on my door. Oberlin is about dialogue and agreeing to disagree. I will not be silent in response to an e-mail that was sent to senators that read:


Curtis is the biggest mother fuckin’ punk bitch i’ve ever seen in my life. Just cuz he didn’t get his way in last night’s meeting he decided to spread word on campus about how the senate is going against the voice of students. I know ur getting this too, so why don’t you shut the hell up and mind ur own damn business.

I will not shut up, and I will continue to voice my opinions and concerns.

–Curtis Ferguson II
College junior


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