The Oberlin Review

New Class of Members Elected to Student Senate

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This semester’s new Student Senators: College sophomore Johan Cavert, College junior Priyanka Sen, College first-year Brittany Mendez, double-degree first-year Patrick Powers, and College first-year Eddy Tumbokon.

This semester’s new Student Senators: College sophomore Johan Cavert, College junior Priyanka Sen, College first-year Brittany Mendez, double-degree first-year Patrick Powers, and College first-year Eddy Tumbokon.

Sydney Allen

Sydney Allen

This semester’s new Student Senators: College sophomore Johan Cavert, College junior Priyanka Sen, College first-year Brittany Mendez, double-degree first-year Patrick Powers, and College first-year Eddy Tumbokon.

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As five new student senators begin their terms, the Review reached out to learn a little more about them. Although the new legislative class is dominated by first-years from the College, it also includes sophomore and junior representatives, as well as a new senator from the Conservatory.

Johan Cavert, College sophomore

Why did you run?

I was inspired by Senate’s recent initiatives and hoped to assist their trajectory toward becoming a respected body that effectively communicates student desires and needs while collaborating with the administration and the Board of Trustees to overcome the College’s challenges.

What do you hope to do in your term?

I hope to work with Senate to find creative solutions to many of the pressing issues facing Oberlin, including the College’s financial situation, the student-athlete divide, the accessibility of Oberlin Student Cooperative Association, Oberlin Disability Services, and how to properly utilize campus spaces.

Priyanka Sen, College junior

Why did you run?

I ran because I’m passionate about certain things in Oberlin, particularly about issues related to international students on campus. International students are a small but dedicated and closely-knit group, and our experiences can sometimes be very different from those of our American peers; I ran because I wanted to help represent this community and also work on facilitating conversations and formulating policies to improve international student life at Oberlin.

What do you hope to do in your term?

Change the world, change the culture. Realistically though, at least in my first semester, I hope to start discussions about designing and implementing better institutional support systems for international students, especially in the areas of career readiness and applied learning. Also, as a former Residential Assistant for program housing, I’m excited to see peers and fellow Senators work on improving accessibility in residence halls, social spaces, etc. I’m constantly inspired by these efforts and will certainly do my best during my time as Senator to help them reach their goals.

What would you like the larger student body to know about you?

I am a third-year English and Politics major from Kolkata, India. I am also a Bonner Scholar and an Oberlin College research fellow. I am a huge fan of seasoning, public transport, red pandas, and the Japanese figure skater Hanyu Yuzuru. I’m also almost always the shortest person in my friend group. I’m generally a nice and funny person to talk to — feel free to stop me on the street and say hi.

Brittany Mendez, College first-year

Why did you run?

I ran in hopes of making every day life for Oberlin students fundamentally better. There are a lot of little things that I think students complain about and can be fixed. Although some issues are bigger and will take more time to solve, there are some immediate ones that can be taken care of.

What do you hope to do in your term?

I want to help close the divide between athletes and non-athletes by uniting North and South campus. I believe that hosting stereotypically “Obie” events on North campus and vice-versa could help solve this problem.

What would you like the larger student body to know about you? Introduce yourself!

I am a first-year student from Washington, D.C. hoping to major in Law and Society and Philosophy. I am an editor and writer for The Oberlin Review, a member of the women’s varsity soccer and track and field teams, a host for prospective students, and I live in program housing [Afrikan Heritage House]. I am excited to serve the Oberlin student body and make the most of our time here.

Patrick Powers, Double-degree first-year

Why did you run?

I ran for Student Senate in order to represent first-year and Conservatory students. Over the course of my first semester here, I saw a lot of things that either don’t work or could work better, and I wanted to do my part to improve the overall quality of this institution.

What do you hope to do in your term?

One of my primary interests is the PAL program. I think that there is a lot of room for that program to grow, and I’d like to see it develop into not just a general orientation tool but a way to help get students with specific orientation needs — double-degree and international students, to name a few. It’s a fantastic concept, but it can be much more than it was this year.

What would you like the larger student body to know about you?

Outside of Senate you can find me around the Conservatory, in Philips gym, at The Local spending every dollar I’ve ever earned on bagels, or in Azariah’s pretending to work on homework. I will have office hours on Monday from 9 to 10 p.m. in the Conservatory lounge, and at the same time on Thursdays in Azariah’s, so come say hi. I feel like I do the best work when I have face-to-face conversations with individual people, so I would really love for any and all of you to stop by.

Eddy Tumbokon College first-year

Why did you run?

I ran purely due to the premise that I believed that first-year students needed to be represented especially in light of and in anticipation of policy changes that will most affect student life for the Class of 2021 and beyond.

What do you hope to do in your term?

There are a lot of items on my list I want to tackle, and I’m still deciding which items I can take on in the short term (within this semester) and which items require more time and concerted effort. Currently, I’m definitely looking at three primary things: One, as Senate’s new Communications Director, I want to continue the good work previous Communication Directors such as Meg Parker and Hanne Williams-Baron have done and explore how to take this position to new heights — maybe even get the ball rolling on a more accessible website; Two, taking active steps on how to improve student life for first-generation and low-income identifying students — especially for first-years — to improve retention and morale; Three, continue a collaborative dialogue between Senate and Oberlin’s senior staff as we collectively transition to a period where a lot of tough, budget-crunching decisions will be made.

What do you see as the most pressing problem at Oberlin?

I think this question is incredibly difficult to answer because it’s asking me to judge which harm or violence deserves the respect of attention above anything else, and who am I to determine that? However, if I were to answer this question, I think a problem that needs to be addressed these next couple months is figuring out what short-term solutions the institution can enact that will help remedy our financial struggles but maintain the best interest of faculty, students, and the community at large.

What would you like the larger student body to know about you?

I’m a Sagittarius with a Pisces Moon and Rising, and the last three songs I listened to were “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood, and “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz, and “Visions of Gideon” by Sufjan Stevens.

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