Student Senate Sends Updates

Ilyssa Meyer

There were good vibes all around last Sunday night in Wilder 215 as we sat down to our first plenary with the new Senators. Senate now consists of eight students who have previously served and seven who are new to the job, creating a perfect blend of experience and fresh ideas. I truly believe last semester was somewhat of a transcendent time in the way Senate is perceived on campus. At our last plenary before the elections, we had more non-Senators than Senators in the room, speaking to the fact that people have begun to utilize Senate as a resource for activism and progress in Oberlin and beyond. As Liaison, I plan to continue on the progressive path that Senate set out on last semester, making the body not only an advocate for the student interest, but a catalyst for change.

Oberlin College students have a certain amount of intellectual capital, and our voices can be heard not only by the administration of the College but by our government as well. At the end of last semester, we passed a resolution urging Governor John Kasich not to cut funding for the 3C rail line, which would promote public transportation and jobs throughout Ohio. This semester, we’ve built coalitions with groups on campus like OC Democrats, the Espresso Party and Ohio PIRG to join the fight for union workers by passing a resolution urging State Senator Gayle Manning to oppose S.B. 5. In collaboration with Students United for Reproductive Freedom and the Oberlin College Feminists Collective, we’ve authored and passed a resolution urging Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur to oppose the problematic legislation, specifically H.R. 3 (the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act), H.R. 358 (Protect Life Act) and H.R. 217 (Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act), which have targeted women’s access to reproductive health and abortion services.

Administratively, we have passed a resolution urging the College to institutionalize activism and student activities by supporting the efforts of both LaunchOberlin and the Student Communications Hub. We are currently working on a resolution concerning the need for an increase in off-campus housing, which we recognize as a pressing issue of the institution.

Looking forward, it is my hope for this next semester that the student body is cognizant of the power Senate holds as a representative body of student interests. Changes in our by-laws will allow us to be even more visible and accessible to the student body. We now have three Outreach Coordinators (Gracy Amber, Annie Lukins and Eli Clark-Davis) working diligently to advertise Senate-sponsored events and keep the student body informed of Senate activities. The increase in outreach from two people to three will prove to be an extremely effective means to gain more visibility.

Another edit in the by-laws that will positively change the effectiveness of Student Senate is the creation of the “Wild Card Position” by former Senator Mary-Claire Erskine. This position was designed to have one Senator focusing on an issue that pertains to a large amount of the student body. This semester, the City Liaison position has been resurrected and shared between Eni Aligbe, who wants to focus on issues surrounding the town and college interaction, and Eliana Golding, who has been working diligently on the need for public transit.

Additionally, we have increased the number of Events Coordinators from one to two, creating a strategic planning team who will create events to facilitate dialogue about issues concerning the campus. Rebecca Hargrove and Mandy Hogan have filled these positions, so if you have any ideas for events, don’t hesitate to contact them. Also, this semester we’ve budgeted money that will go into making the highest-quality events, panels and forums.

Our first event will be held this Sunday (time and place TBA). We will be hosting a panel featuring ourselves (the Senators) and our faculty advisors in a discussion entitled What the Hell Is Senate? We’re planning for a big turnout to tackle this tough question, and often-misconceived notions of what Senate’s purpose is as a body. We hope to see you there!

Student Senate meets every Sunday at 7 p.m. in Wilder 215. All students are welcome and encouraged to attend!