Senate Talks Autonomy Over Student Spaces
Student autonomy has long been a center point of contention between Senate and the administration. This week’s Public Senate meeting bore witness to that. While there was no theme to the meeting, the end of the meeting focused on the encroachment of administrative organizations on historically student-run activities and spaces.
The conversation began when the KRRC Station Manager raised concerns to Senate. She said that this year there has been an unprecedented amount of DJs interested in being a part of KRRC. Normally, the station manager would be in charge of giving swipe access to DJs, and the studio, located within the Student Union (SU), would be open at all times to the manager. According to her, the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) has taken control over the process of granting swipe access to the studio as well as limiting the studio hours to only when there are DJs in the studio, leaving no time for repairs to equipment or other administrative duties the station manager usually performs.
Janice Yang, the Director of OSE, responded to the KRRC Studio Manager. Yang said that OSE now grants swipe access as a means of centralization. She stated that it is important for how closing student spaces, such as the KRRC studio and the Student Union (SU), would reduce the spread of COVID-19, Yang said it limits student gatherings in those spaces primarily occupied by students.
Multiple hands went up to ask more questions. Pax Lloyd-Burchett noted that while Commons dining hall and all residence halls have been restored to full capacity, many student spaces like the SU have borne the brunt of COVID-19 restrictions this year, and asked for clarification about the process in which this decision was made. The KRRC Station Manager said she was not involved in any conversation regarding the studio, neither before or after the decision was made. OSE Operations Coordinator Megan Simón responded, saying that part of the reason OSE is more involved in student spaces this year is to ensure institutional memory is kept by administration, even with changes implemented due to COVID-19. Senator Margot Becker pointed out that there has never been a Senate with exclusively new senators, while administration turnover seems to be rather fast. She stated that institutional memory can be passed down through students as well as staff. Becker also made a point to say that COVID-19 guidelines are only as good as their compliance, noting how much initiative Reedies have taken in protecting themselves and their classmates.
Yang agreed with Becker, saying that she is proud of how students have handled the pandemic. She wanted to ensure that conversations about student spaces should be a joint effort, and things are subject to change. Nothing is set in stone, including the open hours and capacities of the SU and other student spaces. She explained that most of the guidelines were born out of an abundance of caution. Yang would like the conversations to be in conjunction with COVID-19 Response Coordinator Madison Riethman, who is primarily in charge of setting Reed specific guidelines.
Student Body President Alondra Loza jumped into the conversation, asking Yang to start the previously promised biweekly meeting between the OSE and the executive board. Loza wants to ensure that student spaces and autonomy are intact and that student voices are represented in the conversation. Student Body Vice President Orion Pendragon also expressed concerns about student autonomy, and wishes to have more frequent meetings with OSE.
At the beginning of committee reports, Loza wanted to set the record straight. “Senate does not throw the balls! Anyone can throw them! You have to go through Student Events,” Loza stated.
Committee Reports were fairly uneventful, as the vast majority of committees have not met yet. Senator Safi Zenger, who is the chair of Appointments Committee, said there are multiple student work positions open on Handshake, and any interested students should apply. Head Treasurer Kodinna Anachebe talked about Signator Training, which happened over the weekend, and said the recorded training will be in SB Info. If you are interested in the training but missed it, watch the recording and sign all necessary paperwork, all of which will be in SB Info.