Senate Gets Spooky and Talks Institutional Change
Last week’s Senate meeting happened to fall on Halloween, and with it came spooky discussions of institutional change and instability amongst other business. When asked by a senator if the college was falling apart, Student Body President Pax Lloyd-Burchett responded, “a little bit.” Vice President for Student Life Mike Brody explained that having a few key administrators leave opened up new possibilities and allowed for structural changes. Brody explained that the previous structure was not optimal because it had been designed a long time ago and wasn’t suited to handle the current needs of students. He believes the new system will be more effective but acknowledged that this period of change was very uncertain and had not been painless.
When asked by a Senator why so many administrators have left, Brody suggested that it could be because many people in the Student Life department had been working at Reed for a long time and ran out of room to advance up the hierarchy, inspiring them to look externally for work. In response to a student’s question about the influence of President Bilger on these changes, Brody assured students that Bilger was not “clearing house” but that some staff members found it a natural time to transition to another job. According to Brody, most continuing staff members like the structural changes but wish they could have been more involved in the process. Because the changes happened so rapidly in response to a few people leaving, Brody thinks some staff feel like the changes happened to them instead of with them.
Vice President Pixie Freeman asked how administrative candidate searches are going and if Reed has a reputation among any potential candidates. Brody said Reed’s reputation among higher education employees generally concerns Reed’s “strong students with a strong commitment to social justice.” Reed’s student body and faculty also has a reputation for disliking senior staff members, and, because the school is very student and faculty led, “people won’t just do what you say because you said so.” Brody also mentioned that Reed offers a slightly lower salary than similar colleges but that it does have an above average-benefits package. Overall, Brody doesn’t think there are any impediments to attracting good candidates if Reed is the type of college they are looking to work at.
Brody and Lloyd-Burchett also provided updates on the current state of the administration. The Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) and Students for Education, Equity, and Direct Service (SEEDS), previously under the Office of Student Life, will now be a part of the Office of Institutional Diversity. Despite a large external search, Assistant Dean of Students for Residence Life Amy Schuckman has been hired to be the new Associate Dean of Student Services; as a result, there will be a new person hired to fill Schuckman’s former position. The new Dean of Faculty who will succeed Nigel Nicholson will be hired by the end of the semester according to Brody. He also expects the Office of Student Life to be fully staffed by the end of the school year.
Senator Jonathan Lederman announced that the accessibility committee was putting together a fund available for a one-time use or short-term costs for students with disabilities. It will be a need-based fund primarily suited for purchasing assistive technology like noise-cancelling headphones. Lederman clarified that the fund isn’t designed for larger needs such as paying for surgery or buying a wheelchair, and Brody added that for liability reasons, Reed is not legally allowed to pay for those large expenditures. Lederman and Brody also mentioned two other funding methods: Disability and Accessibility Resources (DAR) has money to help students pay for psychological testing, and the Reed Emergency Fund offers resources to cover demonstrated immediate need. Freeman also mentioned that, while Senate’s emergency fund, the Student Opportunity Subsidy (SOS) Discretionary Fund, is currently out of money, they are looking for additional sources of funding.
Senators also shared additional reports from other committee meetings. Alisa Chen announced that Bridget Perier, Clara Park, and Theo Snyder had been appointed as non-voting members of Honor Council. Aziz Ouedraogo shared that the Student Success Committee was determining what manageable goals to focus on for the year. He also mentioned that the Legislation Committee was working on the Senate Bylaws, and the Diversity Committee is helping with the Dean of Faculty search.
The meeting ended when Mike Brody left to take his kids, who were dressed as “a demonic murderous clown and a demonic murderous surgeon” trick-or-treating. Senate then attempted to take a group photo in costume and the room quickly dissolved into chaos.