Senate Beat: Senate Purr Purr Slay Slays the Girlies

The April 8 Senate Public Meeting saw information on Reed’s plans to improve sustainability, updates from the Student Committee on Diversity (SCOD) on bias incident reporting and diversity, equity, and inclusion training, and the fruits of a 45-minute finance committee argument among other general updates.

Chief Information Officer Valerie Moreno spoke and introduced herself as a recent hire. She thanked Senate for holding space for students to bring up grievances, and she asked how her office could best support students. Zenger then thanked Moreno for taking the time to come to the meeting and engage with the student body. Zenger said they can facilitate ways for students to communicate their needs. Senator Lennox Reeder then offered to email Moreno to set up a working relationship. Cunningham-Rodriguez then spoke, stating that staff are held to a much higher standard than faculty on diversity, and stressed intent to transfer that standard to faculty as well. 

Committee reports began with the exposure of a Quest-wide wager on how many people would show up to Senate Public in the aftermath of the prior week’s extremely packed forum on Paul Currie. Student Body President Safi Zenger expressed her anger at the Quest’s gall to place bets on Senate’s student engagement. Minus administrators, Senate, and people who were aware of the bet, the answer was four students, crowning Sage Doane, Quest contributor and frequenter of editing nights, the winner of twenty-five hard-earned dollars taken right out of the Quest editor paycheck. Zenger thanked those audience members present for their attendance.

Senator Ena Hashimoto began the string of updates with information on a recent meeting with Sustainability Coordinator Rachel Willis. Willis attended a workshop to assess how sustainable the college was. The sustainability committee went over a list of potential ways to improve sustainability, and, due to a lack of manpower, began to discuss hiring more student workers in the future. The sustainability liaisons and coordinator also discussed swap bins, which will be placed in each dorm so that students don’t throw out items that can be reused. Senator Ana Quintana-Bernal expressed appreciation for the swap bin painting activity that took place on the Quad a few days prior. 

Senator Ena Hashimoto went on to state updates on Bon Appetit. A request had been put through to bring Secret Aardvark Habanero Hot Sauce back in circulation at Commons, and, although the sought-after hot sauce appeared in the Commons collection of condiments, the email was not responded to. Hashimoto maintained hopes that Bon Appetit would respond because the Bon Appetit liaisons had plans to meet with them.

The floor was then passed to Vice Treasurer Sean Brown who reported on a recent meeting with Director of Community Safety Gary Granger. Brown discussed that CSOs, as a campus-wide support system, could have responded better to the Paul Currie situation. Senator Mack Marsaw added that they had suggested that Granger release a statement of support to the student body as a reminder that Community Safety would protect students and ensure safety on campus. Granger declined this, stating that he “didn’t want to get into politics. Brown went on to discuss a meeting with Vice President for Student Life Karnell McConnell-Black and Vice President and Dean of Admissions Milyon Trulove on the Student Opportunity Subsidy (SOS). During the meeting, McConnell-Black and Trulove provided Brown with information on legal matters, as well as resources on institutional memory. Brown’s final update was that he attended a Committee on Academic Policy Planning (CAPP) meeting. Brown stated, “It was fun! They’re like mean girls; they all have their little cliques!” He cited being privy to faculty drama as the reason for his involvement in student organizations. 

Senator Ana Quintana-Bernal spoke next, providing updates on International Student Services (ISS) and COVID. Quintana-Bernal highlighted plans to meet with ISS on the implementation of Curricular Practical Training at Reed, stating that the proposal looked promising. The COVID update primarily covered student spaces, as the COVID liaisons had hoped to open up more student spaces for student use, but the idea was turned down. Quintana-Bernal held hope that this would change over the summer. Assistant Treasurer Wani Pandey brought up COVID updates with respect to Renn Fayre, stating that they had plans to make testing mandatory or at the very least offer a “pretty pretty please” during Renn Fayre. Pandey explained that a lot of people would be on campus at the same time, so they want to ensure that the event is as safe as possible. Pandey also stressed that the COVID liaisons would love to hear from students on their grievances, stating that the COVID-19 Risk Assessment Group needs these voices and that communicating with the liaisons on these issues is the only way to get those voices heard.

Head Treasurer Kiana Cunningham-Rodriguez, despite claiming her updates were “purr purr slay slay,” provided numerous updates on the Student Committee on Diversity (SCOD), Residence Life, Academic Success, and Finance Committee. The girlies had indeed been busy that week. SCOD’s April 6 meeting covered opinions on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training and developing a more transparent bias incident reporting system. Communication had been established with the Faculty and Staff Committees on Diversity, with many members of these committees raising concerns about the effectiveness of DEI training, which disheartened SCOD. A suggestion to instead train individuals on things that would constitute a biased incident report, as well as the potential repercussions of such actions. On bias incident reporting, SCOD maintained that the system was extremely obtuse, and they brought this up to Cami West, Associate Dean for Institutional Diversity. Cunningham-Rodriguez then went on to state that a survey on housing issues had been released, and she urged anyone who wants to air grievances to answer the survey. 

Cunningham-Rodriguez then stated triumphantly, “the website lives another day!”, in reference to the professor feedback website that she and President Zenger had been working on for three semesters. Zenger and Cunningham-Rodriguez seemed firm in their decision to create an all-pink website, but they rejected Pandey’s suggestion that all text should be rendered in the Wingdings font.

Cunningham-Rodriguez then provided Finance Committee updates. The Dive Deep Club, which Cunningham-Rodriguez claims is “the bane of [her] existence”, asked for an additional $2,070. The club had 10 students that were interested in getting trained and certified to scuba dive, and their members had been trained but requested money to get certification. Cunningham-Rodriguez stated that student engagement has been low, so Senate wants to support and encourage student projects as much as possible, but to provide such a large amount of money to a small group of students is expensive. The committee eventually decided to fully fund them because the money that they had spent on training would have gone to waste if the students did not receive certification. When the motion to vote on Dive Deep’s funding was raised, and all in favor were asked to raise their hands, Vice Treasurer Sean Brown did not raise his hand. This elicited gasps, and a disgruntled “Sean?!” from Cunningham-Rodriguez. Brown, upon realizing that voting had begun, raised his hand and settled the vote, which passed unanimously. Cunningham-Rodriguez claimed that “Sean has a death wish for all student organizations”, and Brown agreed, claiming that in fall he would implement a “Julius Caesar-style thumbs-up thumbs-down” procedure for receiving funding. 

When Finance Committee matters had been settled, President Zenger took the floor. She talked about a recent meeting that she and Vice President Margot Becker had attended with five of the 27 trustees. She stated that Senate had attended to listen to the discussions, which included a presentation from Greenboard on divestment from fossil fuels. Both Zenger and Margot expressed hopes to build a stronger student-trustee relationship, so they were excited to attend this meeting.

Zenger and Becker also met with President Audrey Bilger, Vice President of Student Life Karnell McConnell-Black, and Interim Dean of Institutional Diversity Tony Boston, where much of the Paul Currie situation and student protests on campus were discussed. Procedural clarifications arose from the meeting, notably that Becker and Zenger were made aware that professors on CAT have to recuse themselves from Currie discussions should they voice opinions on the matter. Zenger also stated that an email had been sent on the recent Community Gathering, where she advised that they change the time of the event so students would not have to miss classes to attend or to encourage professors to be lenient with attendance. Zenger stressed that Senate was not made aware of the structure of the Community Gathering, although she had heard from staff that other students had known and disapproved of the format. Had she known, Zenger would have suggested alterations, so as to encourage more productive discussions, as well as to ensure that concrete solutions to students’ frustrations would be put forth. Becker stated that she and Senator Arley Sakai had written a note on missed classes, encouraging professors to be kind about absences given the difficult and painful circumstances of the week.

Appointments Committee Chair Arley Sakai provided updates for the Appointments Committee. The Appointments Committee did not hire that week but had open positions posted on Handshake. The Assistant Treasurer position is hiring and set to close on April 15, and Judicial Board member positions are open and will close on April 20. Sakai urged students to apply to these positions on Handshake.

When committee updates came to a close, the floor was opened to new business. Operations Coordinator for the Office of Student Engagement Megan Simón brought up the potential for conversations surrounding structural racism on campus to continue through the summer. Cunningham-Rodriguez responded by stating that Senate was working on meeting people on the Committees on Diversity, and they hope to continue pushing for the conversation to maintain momentum through the summer. 

Zenger prefaced the meeting by stating that Senate had been focusing on the developing Paul Currie situation, so there would not be much to report on that day. A testament to the lack of committee updates took place at the beginning of the meeting, when Zenger glanced over at Head Treasurer Kiana Cunningham-Rodriguez’s laptop, then exclaimed, “Kiana’s report says purr purr slay slay the girlies.” Cunningham Rodriguez added, “I went to write purr, but I also went to write slay, then I ended up writing slur. The girlies have been busy.” Senator Reeder also notably put down “all quiet on the western front” in place of actual committee updates. Nonetheless, Senate Public then proceeded to set a new record for how long committee updates would take. “We’re all in a silly goofy mood,” Zenger remarked at the end of Public. “I think it’s really ironic that this is the longest we’ve ever taken to do committee reports, AND WE DIDN’T DO ANY COMMITTEE WORK!”

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