Hot-button Oberlin issues including the Coca-Cola ban as well as divestment and lack of confidence in Nancy Dye’s presidency will dominate the upcoming Student Senate referendum.
According to Senate communications coordinator Marshall Duer-Balkind, online voting on the referendum will begin on Monday, after the questions are finalized at this Sunday’s senate meeting.
The most controversial issue on the referendum will probably be the confidence vote. This question is phrased, “Do you have confidence in President Nancy Dye and her administration?”
The question was proposed by Cecilia Hayford and Peter Callopy of the new group Students for Administrative Reform.
“I and some other people are sick of this administration ignoring process,” Hayford said. “I love this school and I’m concerned about its future.”
“We want issues that affect both the faculty and students to be put before the general faculty and in cases of issues that affect only students, such as the restraining of safer sex night, the administration should let the affected parties know beforehand,” Callopy said.
Callopy hoped that the referendum question could be a useful tool for future student activism
“It’s something that students can point to the next time these situations come up to make administrators aware of what’s going on,” he said.
Dye said she was “vaguely aware” that the question was on the agenda, but declined to comment on it.
Another question asks, “Do you think that the college should continue its ban on Coke if the Coca-Cola Company continues to break Oberlins’ code of purchasing?”
The ban was instituted earlier this year upon the recommendation of the College’s purchasing committee because of the suppression of union activity by Coca-Cola bottlers in Columbia.
A question, drafted by senior Allison O’Donnell asks, “Should Oberlin College allocate resources towards the construction of sheltered space(s) designated for cigarette smoking?”
These would take the place of smoking lounges, which used to be located in Oberlin’s dorms but have since been closed for health and safety reasons.
Some of the most contentious discussion in Senate has come over multiple competing proposals for divestment measures.
The senate has already approved one question asking if a Socially Responsible Investments committee should be established and will debate two others on Sunday.
One proposal, brought to Senate by Students for a Free Palestine asks students if they would support the College divesting from companies that do business with the Israeli military.
A similar question was asked of students last year but the proposal did not pass because more students abstained than voted yes.
A competing proposal called for divestment from a long list of countries including the United States.
“Our proposal was to widen the understanding of divestment,” said sophomore Julia Vogl, one of the question’s sponsors. “We thought that if the student body wants to take divestment action they should do so for all regions of the world that have committed human rights violations or aggressive military action.”
Senate plans to meet on Sunday to come up with a compromised language between the two proposals. Sunday also marks the second night of the Jewish holiday Passover, which means that several of the question sponsors and Senators will be unable to attend.
“We tried to come up with an alternate date but we’re working on a very tight schedule,” said Duer-Balkind.
Duer-Balkind also said that Senate was doing its own computer coding for this
referendum to avoid the problems of the last senate election in which e-mail
announcements were caught by the College spam blocker.