Student Senate Welcomes Seven New Senators

This article is part of the Review’s Student Senate column. In an effort to increase communication and transparency, student senators will provide personal perspectives on recent events on campus and in the community.

In February, outgoing student senator and College senior Cecilia Wallace wrote an article in the Review to urge students to vote for Senate, and they did (“Students Must Vote in Upcoming Senate Elections”, Feb. 2, 2019). This semester, Oberlin Student Senate welcomes seven new senators, as well as two re-elected senators. The incoming senators are College first-years Serena Zets, Raavi Asdar, and Renzo Mayhall; College sophomores Bridget Smith and Emma Edney; and College juniors Charlie Rinehart-Jones and Johan Cavert.

An overarching goal for this new class of senators is to increase Senate’s visibility and approachability across campus. Senate’s purpose is to represent the student body and its best interests; thus, this piece is an opportunity to get to know these new senators and introduce you to their work.

Serena Zets will serve as Senate’s new Communications director and chair of the Communications Working Group. When she’s not doing Senate-related work, Serena is a member of the ExCo Committee, a Cat in the Cream employee, and a member of South Asian Students Association and Multi-. She ran for Senate because she’s extremely passionate about improving relationships between the College and the greater Oberlin community. Serena’s platform focused on inclusion, transparency, and connection — all values she plans to bring to the Communications branch of Senate. A fun fact about Serena is that she has lobbied for comprehensive sex education in schools at the Pennsylvania State Capitol!

Raavi Asdar will serve as Senate Chartering Liaison this semester; if you’re hoping to charter a student organization, he’s your point person. On campus, Raavi is a part of OSCA, the Pottery Co-Op, and SASA. Raavi ran for Senate to represent his peers and better understand the bureaucracy and inner workings of the College. He’s planning on serving on the Student Wellness Working Group, where he’ll focus on the development of mental health and crisis response policy. Raavi interprets Senate’s role on campus “as one that is empowered to represent the student perspective to the administration. [He thinks] it’s important that senators are approachable and people bring their concerns to [them].” He also wants the student body to know that he’s a big fan of homemade bread (especially sourdoughs).

Renzo Mayhall is an intended Philosophy and Economics major and serves as the chair of the Campus Dining Working Group. He plays on the Frisbee team and is an Admissions Ambassador. He decided to run for Senate because of his strong love for Oberlin and its students and his desire to make Oberlin a better place for everyone. He’s excited about focusing on Campus Dining to continue Senate’s work in improving accessibility, sustainability, and overall quality of campus dining options. He also wants to promote Senate’s visibility on campus so that students can be even more engaged with its work.

Bridget Smith is a sophomore transfer student and the chair of the Winter Term Working Group. On campus, she serves as co-chair of the Oberlin College Democrats, works in the Office of Study Away and Winter Term and in the Writing Center, is on the Model U.N. team, and is a 2019 Cole Scholar in the Politics Department. She ran for Senate to reform Winter Term programming to make it more accessible. She believes Student Senate’s role on campus is to improve the Oberlin experience for all students by helping to reform current programs, hosting on-campus events, and communicating student concerns to the College. A fun fact about Bridget is that she accidentally choked on her lunch when she met Mitt Romney at the U.S. Capitol, where she spent Winter Term.

Emma Edney is involved with club soccer Students Demand Action, works as a research assistant for Associate Professor of Politics Michael Parkin, and is training to be a Peer Listener at the Peer Support Center. She decided to run for Senate after taking the Intro to Peer Helping Skills class over Winter Term. She’s most excited to use the Student Wellness Working Group to develop the peer support center, increase access to mental health resources and Narcan on campus, and interpret and administer Title IX policy changes. She hopes to develop workshops for Residential Assistants, OSCA leaders, varsity and club sports captains, PRSM trainers, and others in peer support practices so that people in these critical campus roles are better equipped to listen and respond to their peers’ difficulties. A fun fact about Emma is that she’s a dual citizen of the U.S. and the U.K.

Charlie Rinehart-Jones is a Politics and Cinema Studies major as well as Senate’s treasurer this semester. In addition to Senate, he is a Politics Major Representative, Admissions Office Tour Guide, Managing Editor of The Grape, and a professional gamer! He ran for Senate because he feels strongly about health and wellness at Oberlin — specifically, expanding drug safety, advocating for disability justice, and coordinating mental health resources, all of which he will address through the Student Wellness Working Group. During his term, he also wants to work on maintaining Senate’s institutional memory and improving transparency. Charlie wants the student body to know how grateful he feels to have been elected to Senate.

Johan Cavert is returning to Student Senate after a semester abroad in Cuba. On campus, he’s a part of Pyle Inn co-op, Spanish in the Elementary Schools program, has a WOBC show, and works with the Green Edge Fund. His previous Senate term demonstrated his commitment to improving institutional sustainability, something he will continue to prioritize through the Green Edge Fund, the Committee on Environmental Sustainability, Carbon Neutrality Student Advisory Board, and as one of Senate’s Sustainability liaisons. Johan asserts that “as we undergo the AAPR process … I intend to advocate for valued programs while developing creative solutions to prevent further losses. Oberlin is facing major changes, and student engagement is crucial!” Johan loves winter sweaters, snow, podcasts, and public radio!

Now you know a bit more about your new senators! Remember that we’re here to represent you, so make your voices and demands heard by coming into our office hours, which can be found in the online Spring 2019 Senate Directory, or joining a working group. I have no doubt that it’s going to be a productive and proactive semester.