Asks Students For Input, What Next?
by Kushal Kabil
Senate has expressed frustration and concern over the weak response
to their recent efforts aimed at incorporating a greater degree
of student participation in activities involving College governance
and administration. Many senators see the problem as largely resulting
from a sense of apathy among the student body.
One such opportunity for greater student participation involved
interviewing students interested in becoming members of different
College administrative committees. Senate has the responsibility
of appointing all student members to faculty, administrative and
ad hoc committees as well as advisory councils. The interviews concluded
last Thursday and several positions remain unfilled.
The Senate is dedicated to appointing the most interested,
informed, responsible, able and committed student participants to
College governance roles while emphasizing diversity and broad representation
as fundamental to the process, sophomore senator Behrad Mahdi
said. Mahdi is the Educational Coordinator of the Senate. This
year the publicity for the interviews that included details of the
names and scopes of the different committees and failed to attract
very many people to come sign up.
The Winter Term and Jaszi Lectureship committees are among those
that still have student openings.
The apathy might have been because of either lack of information
and education, the timing, people reprioritizing their activities
because of the September 11th events and the delays caused as a
result, which scattered most of the scheduled events of this semester,
senior senator Kasi Chakravartula said.
As a whole the Senate is concerned with a lack of student participation.
It is quite a serious issue because without student membership
and active participation the student body has no voice [in the decision
making process], sophomore senator Shahana Siddiqui said.
The Senate is the executive body of the student body. Obviously,
15 senators cannot take care of all the Colleges problems,
and thats why we need committees; small groups with Senate,
student and faculty representation that can better control the issues
that they are solely dedicated to control.
Siddiqui also noted that student representation provides the student
body with a voice in decisions that directly affect them.
Every year, with committee members graduating or resigning, gaps
are created in these committees and those gaps have to be filled.
It is disappointing to see some of Oberlins students who are
constantly complaining about different aspects of the College [but]
are not willing to sign up for the committees and do something.
Some senators feel that lack of student representation in committees
will result in more decisions made by the administration [which
might] not make all the students happy. [But] future changes will
be not possible since there is no constructive criticism to oppose
those decisions, Chakravartula said.
Chakravartula voiced a further concern raised by the lack of student
participation. Without 50 percent of the student body responding
to the referendum that is currently being circulated, which underlines
some of the important issues relating to dining, housing, safety,
students of color and which ratifies the Senate pay system, there
would be adverse affects on the Senate because the senators wouldnt
get paid, she said.
[Last spring] it took two weeks to gather votes from the twenty
percent of the student body that is required for elections to be
valid. This referendum, if similar apathy is the norm, would mean
an even longer wait, Chakravartula said
Concerned about a lack of student participation in campus politics,
Senate encourages students to fill in the referendums and return
them at the allocated ballot boxes located around the campus.
The improvement of campus dining this year would not be possible
had the Housing and Dining Committee not campaigned for a change
of the Colleges caterer. Other such improvements will not
be possible with weak student body involvement in the future,