Senate Suspends Bylaws



For such a short meeting of only sixteen minutes, Senate Public on Wednesday packed in a lot of updates for the student body. Most notably, Vice President Margot Becker announced that Senate had passed a motion over the weekend to temporarily suspend its own election bylaws, specifically sections 4.5-B.1 and 4.5-A.3. To explain what this means, as mentioned in last week’s Public, Senate normally hopes to elect four senators every cycle, leaving another four experienced senators to continue in their positions while newcomers learn the ropes. However, President Safi Zenger explained that, during a previous election year, a senator resigned in the middle of the summer, throwing off the cycle and leaving Senate with the current 6-2 election balance, instead of the ideal 4-4. 

To fix this, Senate plans to run two one-semester only seats in the upcoming election, with the intent that these one-semester senators will step aside in enough time to restore the next election to its normal balance. However, as was apparently pointed out to Senators in an email from a distressed community member, Senate bylaws do not allow for the election of one semester seats. The bylaws do, however, include a clause under Section 8.2-A that allows Senate to suspend them when deemed necessary. This is exactly what Senate did at an executive meeting over the weekend, suspending the relevant sections of the bylaws for the rest of the semester and the duration of the spring 2023 semester, and thereby allowing for the election of one-semester Senators. Vice President Becker apologized for not announcing these changes to the student body in advance, but confirmed that they are in compliance with the rules and regulations laid out in the bylaws. President Zenger, who was not at the executive meeting due to an allergic reaction, confirmed that she had corresponded with Vice President Becker before the meeting and was aware of the changes and supported the measure. “Our bylaws aren’t always going to be bypassed,” Zenger said, “but they are permeable — sometimes change needs to happen.”

In other news, Senator Jefferson Ratliff shared that four Renn Fayre czars had also been appointed at last weekend’s executive meeting, as well as reminding all that positions are now open on Handshake for the HA Board, Honor Council, JBoard, and the Student Committee on Academic Planning. Meanwhile, Shane Williams, Reed’s new Lead Network Engineer, attended public to ask Senate for more information about where students want campus WiFi extended. “I can go start putting WiFi in lots of places,” Williams said, “but I can’t put it everywhere.” Vice President Becker suggested that the Great Lawn should be a particular focus area, along with general improvements to WiFi speed in the dorms, which Williams said he is already working on. 

In committee reports, President Zenger and Senator Kiana Cunningham-Rodriguez met with Director of Academic Support Christy Martin and Associate Dean for Academic Life Steve Abrahão. President Zenger said that it was very nice to meet Martin, who is new to the college, and that she and Cunningham-Rodriguez are also planning to set up a meeting with Academic Success in the near future. In reference to spring/fall planning, Vice President Margot Becker said that she had been in touch with Megan Callero and Brittney Corrigan-McElroy at Conference and Events Planning, and that spaces for the event had been set up. Meanwhile, Vice Treasurer Wani Pandey will be meeting with the Renn Fayre Czars and the Renn Fayre Committee this Thursday to set up a line of communication and update them on Senate’s work with CEP before “shoving them out of the nest and seeing what they can do on their own.” 

Finally, Head Treasurer Sean Brown will be meeting with the liaison for Student and Campus Life on Friday to ask “how much they have been aware of the Director of Student Support situation” and “just get her thoughts on the situation.” This presumably references Reed’s new Director of Student Support Luis Giraldo, who had a lawsuit filed against him in 2019 which alleged workplace misconduct and discrimination on the basis of race and sex at his previous workplace; the lawsuit against Giraldo was dismissed with prejudice in 2020, and following a settlement all involved parties are legally bound not to discuss it further. This concluded this week’s Senate Public.

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