Senate Proposal Advocates Focusby Elizabeth Heron
Senate heard a proposal Sunday to restructure their system of advisory councils. Senator Sam Taylor, a senior, with help from Senator Jane Glynn, a junior, put forth the idea that Senate should choose one issue to focus their energy on each semester or year, and that all advisory councils should be sub-committees working toward part of that issue. All of Senate would work together on the chosen issue, and split into focus groups to communicate with students, faculty and trustees.
"This way Senate could be mobilized for a common goal," said Glynn. "It would increase the feeling of accomplishment and sense of togetherness."
Senate currently has five to seven advisory councils that each focus on a different campus issue. The councils are student-run and student-formed.
If the new system is accepted, Taylor proposed the issuing of a referendum at the beginning of each semester to learn what issue students most want Senate to work on. Several issues would be put to the student body in the referendum. One such issue is whether or not the College should have co-ed rooms in the dorms. Currently, Residential Life and Services has only same-sex rooms in non-OSCA dorms, but this policy has been debated. It was created in part to keep heterosexual couples from sharing a room, but many feel this attitude is heterosexist and does not take into account that those wishing to share a room may be homosexual couples.
Another issue is whether or not the College should continue its contract with Sodexho-Marriott, the company responsible for Campus Dining Services (CDS). Sodexho-Marriott has recently come under fire from students for its support of private prisons and non-union tradition.
The referendum would also include a question on if the College should implement an Ethnic Studies department, focusing on Asian-American and Latino/Latina Studies, and a Queer Studies department, that would facilitate academic discussion of sexual and gender identity.
In addition, a question on the length of reading period would be included in the referendum, as well as several Senate-related proposals, such as if senators should be paid, how long their terms in office should be, and if they should restructure the nature of the advisory councils.
Many senators felt that a referendum is neither a quick nor accurate ways to survey the student body. It was also brought up that if all of Senate was working on one issue, other issues might be neglected.
It was decided that the proposal needed to be submitted in writing before being talked about further, but most were initially in favor of the idea.
"The talent, the energy, is split in a bunch of different areas right now," said Glynn. "But with the new system, people could still work on other things if they wanted to."
Senate also spoke at length about the importance of lobbying professors in order to convince the General Faculty to charter SECURE (Students Exploring Consent and Understanding Regarding Equity), the student group that deals with sadomasochism, bondage and domination. There has been much debate in the General Faculty about whether the SECURE would hurt the College's reputation and stunt retention rates. Senators have been in favor of chartering SECURE.
Another issue voted upon was whether a senator who may be removed should be able to vote on him- or herselves. Senate decideded that they should not be able to participate in the vote.
Copyright © 2000, The Oberlin Review.
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