Extra Senate Beat: Senate Discusses Troubling Events

Content Warning: Sexual Violence

In last week’s Senate Public, much of the week’s business was concerned with how to respond to and prevent campus sexual assault. This discussion followed multiple alleged high-profile instances of sexual violence on campus. On August 28th, a student left a ball at the Student Union with a group of unknown assailants who gave them an intoxicant before sexually assaulting them; additionally, on September 4th, several students in the Pool Hall became sick after ingesting drinks that had been spiked with an unknown substance. 

Notably, Vice President for Student Life Karnell McConnell-Black, who attended the meeting as an observer, provided an update from the Office of Student Life and said that he had tasked a number of departments in his division with providing and expanding support for survivors, as well as distributing information on resources related to reproductive health care. He also expressed hope that further communication would be coming out to the campus community in the next week and gratitude to the Senate for collaborating with his office.

McConnell-Black further stated that his colleagues have been working toward achieving “the 7-10 things on the list they are able to do” in the immediate future and that an update will be provided to the student body as progress is made even if “all the details aren’t there yet.”

Student Body Vice President Margot Becker reported on a meeting with Community Safety to discuss protocols for balls, specifically how to ensure, if at all, that such on-campus events are limited to students only. While specific strategies for screening guests — including wristbands or hand stamps at the door — were discussed, these were ultimately decided against. Instead, the Community Safety office plans to send a communication to students in the coming days asking that these spaces be kept students-only for the near future.

Aside from discussions of pressing current events, the Senators reported on their routine committee reports. Appointments Committee Chair Jefferson Ratliff has been in contact with SHARE and the library board, and will participate in a Legislation Meeting next Friday. 

Vice Treasurer Wani Pandey is focused on strategies to better support students with COVID-19, and the campus community as a whole, during the ongoing pandemic. Pandey expressed her impression that college administrators are “pushing a ‘we’re over it’” narrative regarding the pandemic and her concern that this does not reflect the ongoing risk to students posed by COVID. Senator Pandey is advocating for testing access to be expanded beyond the HCC’s current policy of providing tests only to students who demonstrate COVID symptoms.

Senators Kiana Cunningham-Rodriguez and Nina Baca will meet with commons representatives this week to discuss current operations. Assistant Treasurer Nina Gopaldas also provided an update, saying a meeting has been scheduled with International Student Services to discuss the launch of Career Practical Training (CPT) for International Students, as well as broader goals for the semester.

Student Body Head Treasurer Sean Brown reported for Finance Committee, saying that a departmental transfer to Chinese House to fund the Mid Autumn Festival — approved unanimously by Senate last week — is underway. Brown is also waiting to meet with Disability and Accessibility Resources (DAR) and the Liaison for Student Life to discuss further projects. Senator Lennox Reeder’s committee continues to work on analyzing the results of a study habits survey distributed to students last year.

President Zenger asked if there were any questions from those in attendance, and, when there were not, concluded the September 7 meeting.

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