Class Trustees Must Consider Student Needs

Cory Ventresca, College senior

To the Editors:

Executive Assistant to the General Counsel and Secretary Pam Pierron’s email sent Saturday, Feb. 25 stating the “regularly scheduled forum time will be used for a trustee–Student Senate mini-retreat” was incredibly disappointing to me as a former student senator. While it is important for Student Senate and the Board of Trustees to develop a strong working relationship so that Senate may better leverage its power, the development of that relationship should not preclude meeting with the student body. The idea that Student Senate can take on the Sisyphean task of representing all students to the board is absurd. In order for students to be fully represented, we need truly open fora.

The class trustees, who represent the three most recently graduated classes, were courteous to schedule their own meeting with students on Saturday, March 4 at 9 a.m., but that time slot is inconvenient. A large swath of students is not wont to attend such an early meeting on the weekend, and turnout will likely be especially low given Oberlin’s hosting of the North Coast Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships on the same day. If a meeting is to be held at such an inopportune time, it should be members of Student Senate — paid representatives of the student interest — who are inconvenienced. As students, we should not give the class trustees a pass for such minimal effort.

The Board of Trustees has, ironically, become increasingly inaccessible since the Fall 2014 trustee forum in Stevenson Dining Hall when board members drew the ire of students for their apathy and lack of transparency. Watching the board withdraw from student input and into intentionally fractured meetings over the past few years has been disheartening, and it is downright depressing to see the class trustees moving in the same direction. I still believe in the class trustees’ ability to effectively represent the student interest. However, during my time on Student Senate, it became abundantly clear that good outcomes are the direct result of a good process. In this case, a good process is a transparent one, and transparency is sorely lacking in the board’s decision-making process. Given the board’s general detachment, the specific role of the class trustees is more important than ever and they should take care to remember their time as students in a renewed push for greater transparency. After all, they were elected to the board to serve the student interest — not to maintain the status quo.

– Cory Ventresca

College senior