Student Senate Debates Current College Issues
An intense meeting of the Oberlin Student Senate caused College junior Ben Klebanoff to resign his post as chair of Senate’s Student Finance Committee Chair last Sunday. In addition to a passionate debate over SFC, the Senate discussed issues ranging from Burma to the recent student arrests.
Klebanoff told the Review that he decided to resign for personal reasons and stressed that his choice was determined by his own concerns about his ability to meet the demands of the job and other commitments. Though he resigned from being SFC liaison, Klebanoff will continue to serve on the Student Senate and is planning to hold another office within the organization.
SFC and its relationship with Senate has been the source of considerable controversy and preceded Klebanoff’s resignation. Specifically, senators argued over whether a senator could serve on the SFC.
Last year, Senate voted to allow only one senator to serve on the SFC. At that time, Klebanoff wanted to be on the SFC while he was senator, but was prevented by Senate’s prohibition.
“Senate serves as the appeals body for SFC, but when there is a lot of overlap…we become one in the same,” said senior Colin Koffel.
Despite these objections, at the meeting Senate voted nine to five to pass a proposal to allow as many as two senators to work on SFC.
“I feel that this decision to allow two people to be on SFC from Senate is very different from the one we made two semesters ago…but I feel like there are definitely different circumstances….There is a very obvious decision for what is best for SFC and Senate and that is for two people to be on SFC,” said College senior and Student Senator Ian Hilburger.
Student senators also debated the endorsement of a proposal introduced by Student Senator David Casserly, a College senior, that would require one designated all-gender bathroom in any building with more than three bathrooms. While no senators opposed the measure outright, the details were subject to argument.
“It’s not going to cost nothing…there is time and energy that will have to go into this,” said Koffel.
Additionally, some senators questioned the timing of the proposal, fearing that it might distract from the General Faculty Committee’s consideration of a non-discrimination policy at its next meeting. Senators also sought clarification on which buildings would and should be covered by such a policy. In the face of these and other concerns, Senate agreed to further discussion before taking a stand.
Senate also agreed to designate Koffel to draft a letter on the Senate’s behalf to address last week’s student arrests and the resultant charges of excessive force by the Oberlin Police.
After a few minutes of discussion, Senate unanimously passed a resolution condemning the human rights abuses of the military regime in Burma. The resolution was introduced by Student Senator and College first-year Luke Squire.