Senate Beat: Feb 9, 2021

Senate Breaks Down Topics in Breakout Rooms

Tuesday’s Senate meeting was far more formal than previous, and for good reason; in attendance were several administrators, including President Audrey Bilger, who, with Senate, discussed the goals and aspirations of Senate this term. 

Student Body President Priya Narain split the meeting into breakout rooms. Narain explained this was to facilitate the normal collaborative conversations that occurred during in-person Senate meetings. People were then assigned random breakout rooms and brought back to the main meeting only minutes before the meeting was adjourned. While the Quest cannot report on all the breakout rooms, we are able to report on two of them. One of the groups discussed several mental health resources for students, including the Health and Counseling Center (HCC) and support staff. Alondra Loza, the only senator in the breakout group, facilitated the conversation and added that Senate is actively working to expand mental health resources to students. Associate Dean of Students for Health and Wellbeing Dr. Carrie Baldwin-Sayre spoke about the alternative avenues for students to access mental health support, such as faculty and other students. 

The second breakout room was facilitated by Senators M.J. Quintana-Rodriguez and Orion Pendragon. In this breakout room, Quintana-Rodriguez spoke about her interest in working with the Center for Life Beyond Reed (CLBR) to give minority students on a pre-medical track more support. In their positions as senator and Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) liaison respectively, Pendragon and Quintana-Rodriguez are confident they can work with CLBR to give students access to resources in the near future. 

Narain joined every breakout group at some point in the meeting. There, she added to the conversations about mental health access on campus, noting that she ran on a platform of HCC reform and is the HCC liaison. She also noted the recent success of Period Kollective which distributes menstrual supplies into all academic buildings. A sobriety coalition is being started at the HCC, Narain noted, to “mitigate harm and take less punitive measures.” 

Narain began committee reports by expressing her desire to expand the role of the legislation committee. Narain also added that Application Committee will fill vacancies on the Student Health Advisory Council. Among the topics discussed was Funding Poll, which is used to allocate funds to various clubs. Vice Treasurer Kodinna Anachebe, explained the process of assigning clubs funding. Clubs and groups register for Funding Poll and then a survey is sent to the student body. The student body then votes, upvoting clubs they believe should be funded and downvoting those they believe shouldn’t. The top 30 clubs attend Funding Hell, an all day extravaganza, at which clubs present their proposed budget and Senate allocate funds. Registration opens Tuesday, February 9 at 8 p.m.!

Senator Safi Zenger then spoke about her meeting with David Gruber, the director of Academic Support. They spoke about changes within the department to not only peer tutor hiring, but the training process as well. In the future, Zenger hopes to meet with Gruber and the registrar to reform the student advisory system; in particular, Zenger is interested in creating a system in which students can evaluate their advisors. She also expressed interest in making the system to change advisors more accessible to students, especially for first year students. Vivien Zhang gave an update about the ongoing push to create a prelaw group; future plans include gauging student interest and contacting Reed alumni as possible guest speakers. Liaison to Disability and Accessibility Resources Beq Yonaka is collecting comments from students during their office hours, which are Thursdays from 3-4 p.m.. 

The meeting ended with Narain encouraging more public engagement with Senate meetings in the future. She added that the Senate is working on closing the disconnect between faculty and Senate through a more open avenue of communication.

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