The Student Senate had a list of issues prepared for guest Dean of Student Life and Services Charlene Cole-Newkirk at last Sunday's meeting. The topics included the drug policy, co-ed housing, the judicial system, the regulations book and orientation. Senate also passed two proposals.
Cole-Newkirk first discussed Oberlin's drug policy. Her main focus was a recently created drug policy task-force which includes student members. Cole-Newkirk asked Dye earlier this year to create a task-force to study different models of drug policies and then make recommendations. One meeting of the task force will be held with Dye and Cole-Newkirk before the end of the semester.
Cole-Newkirk mentioned the possible creation of a residential life task force that would investigate different styles of rooms, including suite-style living. "I'm sure you're going to see lots of task forces," Cole-Newkirk said.
These task forces will determine "whether or not our education systems make sense," Cole-Newkirk said.
Senator senior Noah Bopp asked Cole how she expects the drug policies to "shape up." In response, Cole-Newkirk said she wants to see the policies examined closely in order to find inconsistencies and redundancies.
"I don't see enough coming out of student health and counseling centers in terms of [drug] programs and education and peer help education," Cole-Newkirk said.
The next topic discussed was co-ed housing. By April 26, Cole-Newkirk is supposed to have drafted a co-ed housing proposal to bring before the SLC.
Cole-Newkirk said, "I had co-ed suites seven years ago in another school. ... I am not anti-co-ed living."
The senators voiced their support of a co-ed housing option. D. Joan Lieb, senator senior, said, "I'm a senior. Co-ed rooms were an issue when I was a freshman. A 1993 Senate student referendum recorded 85 percent of voters in favor of co-ed rooms. ... The issues were thought of very clearly."
Cole-Newkirk responded, "I've only come to understand how big an issue it is in the last couple weeks."
While addressing concern about the effect co-ed living could have on financial donors and admissions, senator senior Chapin Beninghoff said, "If they can swallow Newsweek calling us the Gay Mecca, they can swallow [co-ed rooms]."
Leib voiced her concern about the possibility that assigning co-ed living arrangements could become practice via an administrative change, rather than through approval from the General Faculty. Leib felt that this could jeopardize the legitimacy of the policy with future administrators.
In response to Leib's concern, Cole-Newkirk said, "I try to strike a balance on what I need to get a stamp on or just make a decision. … I'm still trying to feel my way through and I make mistakes. … This is the most consensus-seeking institution I've ever been in."
The next topic discussed was Oberlin's judicial policy and the future of the judicial coordinator responsibilities. The judicial coordinator position was eliminated earlier this semester.
Senator senior Matt Cole asked who would bring charges before the Judicial Board under a revamped system. Presently, charges are brought by the dean of student life and services.
"It's my opinion that the coordinator should do it," Cole-Newkirk answered. "I have always seen the dean as outside of the [judicial] process. Making the dean [part of the process] demonizes the [dean's] position. ... I don't want to be in that role," Cole-Newkirk said.
Natasha Borges Sugiyama, college senior and member of Judicial Board, said, "I want to encourage Senate to look closely at the judicial system ... and see that students think it meets their needs."
Cole-Newkirk said, "Students need to be at the center of the judicial process."
The next topic Cole-Newkirk addressed was Oberlin's Rules and Regulations Book (Regs Book).
Cole-Newkirk said that an examination of the Regs Book could be the job of a possible task-force. Such a task force, according to Cole- Newkirk, would look at model codes in order to reconstruct the Regs Book. A rule book in the form of a student handbook, with easy to follow codes, would be ideal, Cole-Newkirk said.
Any eventual changes to the Regs Book will not be made this semester or over the summer.
Orientation was the last topic addressed.
Senators said they want student government to be a part of the orientation schedule. Cole-Newkirk suggested that the Senate write a proposal expressing this desire and give it to Ken Holmes, assistant to the dean of life and services and chair of the orientation.
Senate decided to follow Cole-Newkirk's suggestion, and appointed senator sophomore Andreas Pape to write the letter.
At the end of the meeting, Cole-Newkirk said, "I'd be happy to come back any time. Thanks for inviting me."
For the next 30 minutes, senators met in work groups.
The Academic Affairs Committee discussed the search for a new dean of the College, the Academic Standing Committee and the Senate's upcoming visit with James Helm, chair of the Classics Department and acting dean of the College, to discuss faculty appointment procedure.
Committee appointments were announced. Dan Spalding, college first-year, was appointed to the Winter Term committee for the remainder of the year. Persky said, "[Spalding] had great ideas on how to make the committee more effective."
Next, Beninghoff introduced Joe Waltzer, college senior, a visitor to the Senate. Beninghoff said, "[Waltzer] has requested off-board dining status." According to Beninghoff, Waltzer is a vegetarian, works 21 hours a week, and has personal and political problems with mass agriculture. Waltzer sent a request letter to the Housing and Dining Grievance Board on April 1 and has not received a response.
The Senate approved a proposal from Beninghoff to support Waltzer's request for off-campus dining.
The senators also passed a proposal supporting the goals of the students protesting the lack of ethnic studies at Columbia University.
Blair Heiserman, senator sophomore, then announced what organization's charters were considered worthy of approval by the Student Organizations Committee. The list included: Oberlin Musical Theater Association, Oberlin-on-Oberlin, VIBE, Course Evaluation Committee and Socialist Student Union.
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 21; April 19, 1996
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