Senate Beat: Oct 8, 2021

Senate Reacts to Dr. McConnell Black’s Email

This week’s public Senate meeting had “tech security” as its theme, but in true Public Senate fashion, the conversations jumped to much more serious topics. Student Aditya Gadkari asked for Senate’s reaction to the Oct. 5 email that Vice President for Student Life Dr. Karnell McConnell-Black sent to the student body. In the email, McConnell-Black states he has “observed members of our community not living up to the Honor Principle.” 

Student Body President Alondra Loza responded, and said no one on Senate nor the executive team was informed about it before the email was sent. Gadkari, who is a Sexual Health, Advocacy & Relationship Education (SHARE) Advocate, said that, to his knowledge, no one from SHARE was made aware of the email until its wide release as well. He said that as a person who advocates for trauma-informed rhetoric and care, the email was the antithesis of trauma-informed, and he wished SHARE played a bigger role in the content of McConnell-Black’s email. Gadkari then asked Senate what accountability for administration would look like in this context.

Loza responded and said she was personally uncomfortable, angry, and confused about the message of the email steering away from support for the student body and toward restating widely known policies, such as the Honor Principle. She also stated that the Honor Principle does not just govern students, but the entire Reed community, something she believes was lost in the email. 

Vice Treasurer Kiana Cunningham-Rodriguez, who is also co-chair of Honor Council, said the email and its implications have been discussed at length by Honor Council members. She feels the McConnell-Black has given a definition to the Honor Principle, which purposefully does not have a strict definition, and Honor Council plans to release a statement. In this statement, Honor Council plans to state that while administration is one place students can go to report instances of harm, student-led organizations and resources are still the best place to go, such as SHARE. 

Another student pointed out that in normal times, Senate would release a statement of their values in response to the email in their Student Body Info emails, but because that is monitored by McConnell-Black, there are few safe places to do that. Cunningham-Rodriguez stated her gratitude for student publications like the Quest that give students a place to share their thoughts unfettered by administration. Loza finished the conversation, promising to bring up student concerns in her upcoming meeting with McConnell-Black. 

On the docket for the meeting was Director of Computer User Services Tony Palomino giving a presentation about computer security and tips for keeping your computer safe. Most importantly, Palomino said to never reuse passwords! If one of the passwords is compromised, they all will be. To keep track of your passwords, Palomino recommends the use of password managers, especially ones that sync across multiple devices. On the same note, he recommended that you use two-factor authentication whenever possible. 

Palomino explained the difference between updates and upgrades: while updates are smaller and should be installed immediately to ensure best computer performance possible, upgrades are bigger, and should wait until all the glitches are figured out from the parent company. 

Finally, Palomino recommends all students think carefully about the information that they could be putting online without knowing. Zoom links, for example, can be public and entered by anyone, so be sure all links are private before sending them! 

Committee Reports were relatively short this week with only a few updates from Senators. Loza updated the group on the recent Student Committee on Academic Policy and Planning (SCAPP) meeting. The group went over the ways they will push for a reevaluation of the physical education policy at Reed to the Committee on Academic Policy and Planning (CAPP). With little support from CAPP, SCAPP is planning on leading that conversation into the future.

Senator Safi Zenger and Cunningham-Rodriguez met with webmasters about creating a website! This website would allow students to provide feedback and document their experiences with professors. The feedback, Zenger explained, would be geared towards the professor’s general acceptance of students of color and gender-nonconforming students as well as the climate within the classroom. Both Zenger and Cunningham-Rodriguez are very excited about this project, and are looking forward to meeting with the webmasters soon to get a domain and mock-up for the feedback forms. 

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