Senate Urges Admin to Adopt Ban

Madeline Peltz

Student Senate passed a proposal on Sunday, urging the administration to ban the consumption of smokable tobacco products on campus. The general faculty will vote on the policy’s implementation and structure next fall.

The proposal, which passed with 10 yeas, three nays and one abstention, addresses multiple aspects of the policy.

“Oberlin College is committed to providing a safe living and working environment for student, staff and faculty,” the proposal states, ultimately citing secondhand smoke as a threat to student health.

The proposal also “urges the zoning subcommittee to clearly define and publicize the boundaries of the campus where smoking is not prohibited with appropriate signage,” and suggests that Tappan Square be excluded from the ban.

Senator and College sophomore Machmud Makhmudov was instrumental in passing and soliciting input on the proposal.

“What we originally put forth is not what we passed last night,” Makhmudov said. “So people had input on the process and they suggested things to amend the proposal that I think in the end is going to be better for the entire campus.”

The two main areas changed as a result of student input are the outdoor use of e- cigarettes as well as the exclusion of Tappan Square from the ban.

“The Oberlin College Student Senate endorses the adoption of a campus-wide tobacco free policy with the preceding stipulations, prohibiting the use of products such as cigarettes, cigars, pipes, dip, chew or any other tobacco-based smoking agent,” according to the proposal.

Two other issues required the attention of the Senate on Sunday. The body drafted and passed a proposal amending its bylaws to promote a more efficient system of institutional memory. The new bylaw institutes a series of interviews between Senators at the close of each semester, and will concern their experience with service. Senators hope these interviews will preserve individual impressions of the Senate’s function and efficiency.

Despite the session’s productivity, much of the plenary period was spent debating individual interpretations of the bylaws. This past week, the Senators fought bitterly over “points,” their internal system of discipline. When a Senator is late or fails to fulfill an obligation related to their position, they are assigned a certain number of points that carry over between semesters. The points are assigned by the operations manager, a position currently held by College first-year Emma Snape.

During the plenary session, two senators confronted the points system, which requires a censure, a procedural punishment published in campus media for a Senator’s failure to complete their duties. The discussion culminated in two senators threatening to resign.

Earlier in the semester, Senate plenaries were heavily attended as these conflicts unfolded. This week, only the reporter and one other student, College first-year Ema Sagner were in attendance.

“I was glad that they passed the smoking ban,” said Sagner. “I wish they spent less time talking about their own bylaws. A structure that exists to achieve some goal, in this case to be representatives of the student body, shouldn’t exist if all they’re talking about is their own structure, because that means that they’re not putting enough energy towards their goal of representing the student body.”

Despite the drop in attendance, the same issues of communication seem to plague Student Senate.

“The issues we are facing and arguing about today are the result of the mistakes we’ve been making for all these years,” said first-time Student Senator and College sophomore Mia Wallace.

“All of the mistakes we’re making are not mistakes we’re making fresh,” she said.