Student Representatives Reach Out During Constituents’ Week

Students+fill+their+cups+with+hot+cocoa+at+the+Constituents+Week+event+%E2%80%9CHot+Chocolate+with+Ambar%E2%80%9D+Monday%2C+Dec.+3+in+Wilder+Hall.
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Student Representatives Reach Out During Constituents’ Week

Students fill their cups with hot cocoa at the Constituents Week event “Hot Chocolate with Ambar” Monday, Dec. 3 in Wilder Hall.

Students fill their cups with hot cocoa at the Constituents Week event “Hot Chocolate with Ambar” Monday, Dec. 3 in Wilder Hall.

Mallika Pandey, Photo Editor

Students fill their cups with hot cocoa at the Constituents Week event “Hot Chocolate with Ambar” Monday, Dec. 3 in Wilder Hall.

Mallika Pandey, Photo Editor

Mallika Pandey, Photo Editor

Students fill their cups with hot cocoa at the Constituents Week event “Hot Chocolate with Ambar” Monday, Dec. 3 in Wilder Hall.

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Student Senate and the Student Finance Committee collaborated with other student government organizations to arrange this year’s Constituents’ Week from Dec. 3 to Dec. 7. The week-long event was created to build community and to help students better communicate with their student representatives.

“We tried to mix [Constituents’ Week] with both community-based events and information-based ones,” said College second-year and Student Senator Caleb Knapp.

Events included campus-wide pajama day and hot chocolate with President Ambar Monday, an informational panel on student government Tuesday, a “Committee Cocoa and Krispy Kreme” with the Student Finance Committee Wednesday, a Student Senate Chicken Fry Thursday, and a mixer with the Conservatory Council of Students and Student Senate with live music tonight.

“[Four years ago] when I was starting on Senate, Senate wasn’t really an official thing, it existed and people didn’t really take it seriously,” said College fourth-year Kirsten Mojziszek, health liaison on Student Senate. “People weren’t doing really hard-hitting work — it was just sort of barely getting by. The past couple semesters it’s been getting more and more legitimate. People who run for Senate aren’t doing it just for a resumé booster, they’re doing it because they have things they want to do on campus. Which is amazing, we actually have a passionate body of people, but the perception of Student Senate hadn’t really caught up to that.”

Constituents’ Week was held for the first time last year to get input on the student body’s needs. The information was gathered predominately through student surveys. In contrast, this year, student representatives focused on facilitating dialogue with the student body.

“I think I hear a lot from people that I interact with and my friends that they’re a little unclear about all the things that student government does,” said Meg Parker, College fourth-year and policy manager for the Student Finance Committee. “The reason that we came up with Constituents’ Week last year was [because] we were trying to think about ways to be more connected to the student body and have more engagement with students.”

Activities this week were mostly organized by and centered around Student Senate and Student Finance Committee, but some events also included the Honor Committee and Conservatory Council of Students. Many student government representatives stressed the importance of communication between officers and students.

“We do our job best when we see more students than we do administrators,” said Patrick Powers, Student Senator and College sophomore. “I think the way in which student government fails is when we do our weekly meetings and our little working groups and the only people who we interact with are other Senators and administrators, because things may happen, but it quickly becomes less and less representative because it’s only the people who are inside of the system making those changes.”

Some students expressed that knowing their student representatives personally has a positive impact on their relationship with student government.

“Facetime with student representatives can be really important,” said College senior Abby Bellows. “If I have certain things to say, I know these people and can talk to them. The snacks were also tempting”

Others were just excited about the fun- and food-filled events — specifically Student Senate’s chicken fry.

“It was good, because I didn’t eat today and then they had chicken fingers, and I was going to eat a really bad DeCafé sandwich but then instead I had chicken fingers,” said College first-year  Malcom Seymour-Jones.

Constituents’ Week also offered an opportunity for student representatives to communicate the dedication and commitment they have to Oberlin and the students they represent.

“It’s not just performative, it’s not just for show, we’re not just doing it for our resumés; we really do want to see institutional change that works in favor of the students,” said College first-year Rebecca Kukushkin, outreach officer for SFC. “Right now a lot of students are frustrated. [As] liaisons between the school the student body and the administration, we really want to do [our] best and [to] work on behalf of the students.”

Although Constituents’ Week offers students a chance to voice their perspectives, student government representatives emphasized that they want to hear student perspectives all year long.

“I would just reiterate that student government is here to help you in any way possible. … We have these opportunities to raise issues to a higher level because we meet with administrators on the regular,” Mojziszek said. “There are ways to make change on this campus, so never feel hopeless. If you want to get something done I think there’s always a way and an avenue, and we’re here to help facilitate that and raise your voices up.”

 

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