Senate Updates on Committee Progress

As part of Student Senate’s mission to inform the Oberlin student body about the work going on throughout Oberlin’s various administrative governance structures, we’d like to offer a snapshot of the work going on in some of the committees in which senators serve. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the work Senate is doing at the moment. Still, we hope it will provide some valuable insight into the conversations going on amongst faculty and administrators that will affect Oberlin’s students in the weeks, months, and years to come. 

Arts and Sciences Academic Restructuring Committee update: Cait Kelley

ASARC is one of several committees created this year to formulate specific recommendations for how Oberlin can achieve the goals laid out in One Oberlin. You can find the list of members and more information about the One Oberlin implementation committees on the Oberlin website.

So far on ASARC, we’ve discussed the possibility of reorganizing the College of Arts and Sciences according to the One Oberlin proposed Divisional Model. Under a Divisional Model, academic departments and programs would be assigned to larger divisions, each with a Division Chair. Departments would then have Department Heads, not Department Chairs. The idea would be to streamline administrative tasks, eliminate the need for offering course releases to Department Chairs — because they would have less work to do as a Department Head — and encourage interdepartmental collaboration. There are both pros and cons to this model, which is only one of several possibilities that would achieve the goals of saving money, increasing departmental efficiency, decreasing the silo effect among departments, and increasing collaboration across disciplines.

Much of the committee’s time thus far has been taken up by developing an intensive survey about the Divisional Model and other models that will be sent out to all faculty in continuing faculty lines. We’ve also discussed how best to gather information about the work of administrative assistants, the people who do the bulk of the administrative work in the Arts and Sciences. Currently, the committee is also scheduling meetings with major administrative offices who work with academic departments, including the Office of the Dean of Students, Facilities, Human Resources, the Career Development Center, and more. Through these conversations we hope to learn more about how offices and departments interact and if those relationships could be changed or improved to help meet the goals of One Oberlin.

This committee will be working on these issues all year and will present recommendations to the General Faculty in spring 2020. If you have questions about this committee or would like to know more about how to serve on a faculty committee yourself, come to my office hours in Azariah’s Café 9:10-10:10 p.m. every Monday. Also feel free to email me questions at [email protected].

JED Update: Emma Edney

The JED team has identified which strategic recommendations will be placed under the purview of the Policies & Procedures Working Group and the Education & Prevention working group. The team has met once this semester and will meet again before the end of the semester. The team has identified core areas of improving resiliency, educational programming and campaigns, awareness of mental health resources, and universal design in campus spaces. This committee is engaged in the second year of the four-year process in partnership with the Jed Foundation to self-assess policies, programming, and data regarding mental health and student wellness before implementing strategic recommendations to reach target goals.  

Winter Term Update: Bridget Smith

This fall, the Winter Term Committee, under the direction of Professor of History, Comparative American Studies, and Africana Studies Renee Romano, has been hard at work preparing for Winter Term 2020. The committee has worked with Bon Appétit to offer a $300 dining plan for January. It has worked to change the policy regarding Winter Term teaching requirements, presenting a proposal to the General Faculty this week that would require professors to either host a program or sponsor programs three out of every four academic years. This coming January, there will be over 50 on-campus programs, and there will be on-campus events every day over the Winter Term period, such as movie nights and trips to Cleveland. 

Sustainability Liaison Update: Wenling Li

On Nov. 2, The First Church Green Team held the third annual Oberlin Green Group Harvest Vegetarian Potluck Dinner and Celebration at First Church in Oberlin, where we gathered with a variety of Green Groups to share ideas and prioritize activities for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Following this potluck, College fourth-years Olivia Vasquez and Madeleine Gefke, who serve as the two student representatives for the Environmental Studies program, reached out to campus green groups to form the Earth Day 50 Symposium Student Planning Committee. 

The planning of the 50th anniversary Earth Day is challenging in terms of budgeting, event planning, and the partnership among the extensive range of green groups. It also has a relatively broad audience, as the event is not only for Obies but also for high schoolers, senior citizens at Kendal at Oberlin, and all Oberlin residents. We invite all interested people to join the planning committee to help make this celebration of local sustainability a success.

Athletics Update: Kofi Asare and Lena Golia 

We attended the athletics committee with a number of staff from the Conservatory, the College, and the Athletics department to review and discuss the spring sports schedule. Look out for some exciting games coming up! This meeting focused on the logistical challenges of scheduling the athletic year while keeping it possible for student-athletes to balance sports and school — no small feat. This committee is filled with faculty and senators who aim to prioritize the health and well-being of the students. While in the meeting we also announced the results of the “Name That Squirrel” contest — welcome our new mascot, Yeobie. We also are excited to promote the athletic faculty run on-campus Winter Term project, Bold and Cold. The John W. Heisman Club, in conjunction with the Oberlin Athletics department, is presenting a Winter Term Leadership Workshop series. This course will feature guest speakers to discuss financial basics, life as an Obie, and public speaking, which will all be discussed in group reflection sessions. Look out for the exciting events hosted by the Heisman Club and the Oberlin Athletics Department coming up. GO YEO!