The Associated Students of Lewis & Clark Senate met in Thayer on Feb. 17 to discuss various issues on campus, inform the ASLC cabinet on the status of the ad hoc committee on diversity and to confirm Jaweal Hakoum ’20 as the final member of the Senate. There was no legislation brought to the floor.
Black Student Union representative Michelle Waters ’19 updated the Senate on future events hosted by the BSU. On Feb. 24 the BSU will be showing the film Moonlight in Council Chambers at 7 p.m. The BSU is also screening Hidden Figures on March 17.
Waters also discussed the BSU’s frustration with non-black students reciting derogatory words while singing along with popular music. “I’m furious with non-black students having the audacity to just openly say the n-word as if it’s something that’s another lyric,” Waters said. “I think that people really need to realize the importance of the historical context in which you are saying such words. I think you need to hold yourselves accountable in regards to such matters. Maybe even have a dialogue within your own communities. I think it should not be happening. It’s infuriating to believe we are at different levels of understanding.”
ASLC Vice President Nick LeSage ’17 addressed the Senate in regards to Waters’ concerns. “Be sure to talk to your own constituencies,” LeSage said, “and even your own friend groups.”
Sen. Ella Crawford ’19 reported a student’s frustration after not being able to seek treatment for a sports-related injury on campus.
Sen. Matthew Stevenson ’20 addressed Sen. Crawford’s concerns. “To my knowledge, the [physical] therapists are not Lewis & Clark employees,” Stevenson said. “It’s in their contract that they only can work with varsity student athletes.” Sen. Natalie Souders ’19 suggested LC revising their contract with the physical therapists to include club athletes in their treatment mandate.
Sen. Souders later presented her continued efforts in restructuring the sexual assault policy. Souders discussed her efforts in communicating with Student Rights and Responsibilities Director Charlie Ahlquist.
“Any time you do anything with the sexual assault policy there are going to be unintended consequences,” Souders said. “We need to make sure we minimize those consequences.”
Souders’ plans on bringing the discussion to the Registrar’s office to get their perspective on putting a sexual assault record on an offender’s transcript. “Honestly, the argument against this is that we don’t want to ruin people’s lives,” Souders concluded.
Sen. Violet Betters ’20 reported a vegan constituent upset with the vegan options at the Trail Room. VP LeSage gave Betters the contact information for Michael Bucuvalas, Director of Catering for Bon Appétite.
Sen. Torin Lee ’17 took issue with Associate Director of Health Promotion Melissa Osmond’s report on mental health at the school. Lee plans on meeting with Osmond in order to discuss what is being done about mental health on campus. Lee also wants to meet with members of the student body, faculty, and health services to see what can be done. “I want [the Senate] to know I am going into this,” Lee said. “Please let me know if you have specific interests that you would like me to bring up with Melissa Osmond in regards to this situation.”
ASLC Advisor Harold McNaron commented on Sen. Lee’s concerns. “My understanding is that across the nation, students that come into college with mental health diagnoses has gone up,” McNaron said. “Most professionals actually believe that this has been good. That means that [these students] are getting care and they are having access to mental health professionals who can make those diagnoses. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be concerned, I just wanted to throw that in as one of the reasons why the numbers are up nationally and at LC.” McNaron closed his remarks by supporting Sen. Lee in his investigation.
In Sen. Zack Johnson’s report on the ad hoc Committee on Diversity, he reported a positive meeting with Dean of Diversity and Inclusion Janet Steverson and Director of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement Nathan Baptiste. Johnson reported that Steverson and Baptiste encouraged a student application process as opposed to a voting process to decide members of the Diversity Committee.
Johnson asked for guidance on whether to form diversity quotas within the Diversity Committee.
“We are currently deciding whether we want it to be a very organic experience by which we don’t have a quota for certain populations on campus, or decide whether we want to say there has to be certain number of – for example – racial, ethnic, religious, or ideological minorities on campus,” said Johnson.
Johnson also expressed concern about having properly-trained members of the Diversity Committee handle concerns raised by students. Johnson called these members of the committee “student confidantes.” “When we are creating a position that requires both anonymity and the ability to be an active listener to student concerns, there has to be a specific training program by which the student confidantes will be set apart from being a friend or just an average student,” said Johnson. He is meeting with Melissa Osmond to discuss a training program during the week of Feb. 27.
Johnson plans on having the committee filled by the the week after the first senate meeting in Fall of 2017.
ASLC President Adam Fractor ’17 updated the Senate on the cabinet meeting with the Executive Council. Members of the Executive Council include Interim President David Ellis, Vice President and Provost Jane Atkinson, Treasurer Alan Finn, and the deans of the three colleges.
“The cabinet will be talking with them about transportation and parking survey plan,” Fractor said. “We will also bring up the ad hoc committee and our progress with that. I also want to discuss divesting from fossil fuels, which is something that SEED brought to us, which is Students Engaged in Eco-Defense.”
Advisor McNaron’s closing comments on the meeting included an announcement about the committee to select a new president of LC. The committee is populated by Interim President David Ellis, various members of the Board of Trustees, Chair of the Economics department Cliff Bekar and co-president of BSU Tiffany Farmer ’18. McNaron encouraged members of the Senate to reach out to the committee to voice their thoughts and concerns regarding the selection of a new president.
McNaron also announced that Interim President Ellis will pick an Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences by March 25.
VP LeSage closed the meeting by reiterating key discussion in the Senate. He reported that Charlie Ahlquist will attend a senate meeting on March 9 to discuss changes within the Student Academic Affairs Board. “SAAB is by for the most tangible asset that ASLC offers to students,” LeSage said. “It is incredibly important.”
LeSage also reported the status of the resolution calling for the rescission of President Trump’s executive order regarding immigration. “I sent a copy to Senator Wyden, Senator Merkley, Representative Blumenauer, Representative Walden and President Trump,” LeSage said. “They each got a letter in the mail regarding the resolution.”