Student senate adresses students’ complaints
Afrikan Heritage House students led the first hour of the Sept. 25 Student Senate meeting, detailing each grievance wrought by a recent sewage leak in their dorm.
Sophomore Charlotte Collins, a residential advisor in the house, steered the discussion. Collins criticized the administration for failing to respond quickly to the leak, which saturated carpets in five to seven inches of sewage, and for not properly cleaning the mess.
“Why did it take three hours when I said fecal matter was in the room?” asked Collins.
The senators expressed heartfelt concern over the students’ situation. Senator Matt Kaplan promised to see that “things will get changed.” To back up their sympathy, Student Senate passed a series of proposals, which allocated funds for hiring an outside health inspector to examine the dorm and report its condition. In addition, the proposals also asserted Senate’s desire to see immediate replacement of damaged carpets and furniture.
Another student complaint, relayed by senator Matt Adler, concerned the Science Center Cart that serves food during lunch hours. The cart consistently runs out of food due to high demand. Michelle Gross, assistant director of Residential Edcuation and Dining Services, told Adler steps were being taken to relieve congestion.
First, the cart would open 15 minutes earlier, at 11:30 a.m. and the cart would stock more food. Finally, a second cart would be purchased. The three-part plan will not be implemented immediately, partly because it will take a while to receive the new cart.
Other dining news involved the possibility of Dascomb and Stevenson posting the calorie and health information of their foods on the Oberlin website.
Senate resurrected the idea of orchestrating a Sept. 11 anniversary ceremony. However, many senators, such as Ozlem Gemici, criticized the proposal as making “Student Senate a vehicle for political ideology.”
In the beginning of September the Senate has only half of its members and as a result from this some senators concluded that the decision to memorialize Sept. 11 might not represent student interests.
“9/11 is too political here,” added senator Marshall Duer-Balkind.
The final criticism suggested the anniversary project did not fall within Senate’s business. The proposal failed to pass with three senators opposing, three senators abstaining, and only senior senator Ezra Temko favoring.
The critical eye next focused on the Budget Allocation Committee’s policy on debt reduction. The policy states that if a student organization overdraws its account by an amount greater than 10 percent of its total budget, the amount will be deducted from its budget next year. Debt also remains for four years.
“A lot of good groups are hindered by this policy,” said Duer-Balkind, who described the policy as “silly.”
Adler suggested Senate use its authority to revise the policy. The new policy might shut down the organization’s account once it overdraws. No proposal was made on the agreement to wait for the new senators.
Elections for senators received a setback when the computer stopped counting votes. The database quota had not been readjusted to accept a large amount of votes. Duer-Balkind fixed the problem and extended elections until Oct. 1 at 6 p.m.
Another issue that was brought up was the increasing interest among students for the student seats on different committees. According to Duer-Balkind, many students contacted Senate in the first weeks of school requesting seats. With a high number to consider, Adler suggested requiring paper applications to narrow the list of candidates before interviews.
“We need a structured system,” said Adler.
While Senate did not vote on Adler’s proposal, it did unanimously approve a proposal to extend office hours for the week ending Sept. 23.
Under the proposal, interviews would be granted only for committees given priority that week and would be conducted by at least two senators.
“It works like this,” said Duer-Balkind in a Sept. 26 e-mail.
“You come to Wilder sometime in the window [of office hours], and either
hang out in the lobby, if we are there, or to our office, Wilder 222, if
that’s where we are.”