By Claudia Nguyen and Ellen Schoder
Photo by Dexter Coen Gilbert ’21
Spring Plenary was swift this year, taking less than two hours. The event officially began at 2 p.m. on Sunday, quorum was reached approximately 50 minutes later, and the event ended shortly before 4 p.m. Despite its short duration, there was still plenty of discussion.
The JSAAPP resolution
The only resolution on the agenda this spring was an amendment brought forth by the Joint Student-Administration Alcohol Policy Panel (JSAAPP) that adds language about rape culture to the Alcohol Policy. As stated in the plenary packet sent to students before Sunday, the resolution adds that one of the goals of the Alcohol Policy is “to promote an ethos in our community where any people who commit acts of sexual misconduct or sexual violence are held accountable, including when they and/or the survivor is inebriated.”
The resolution appeared to pass unanimously, or very close to it, with the addition of a friendly amendment. The friendly amendment aimed to take pressure off students to confront if they see aggressive racism, homophobia, or other prejudice, and feel like they are in physical, mental, or emotional danger. It added that students are encouraged to seek assistance from others in these instances. The friendly amendment was approved by the JSAAPP co-heads and passed by the community with little to no one disproving or standing outside the vote.
Students vote to open ratification of the Honor Code
Many debates about the Honor Code began before plenary even started, with some students suggesting that it would be best to go to special plenary. Special plenary can happen if the student body opens ratification of the Honor Code at plenary and is unable to gain the votes of two-thirds of the student body to ratify the Code, or if students vote not to open ratification at plenary but subsequently get 40% of the student body to petition for a Special Plenary.
The conversation about special plenary continued inside the GIAC.
Kevin Liao ‘18 began the Pro-Con debate, speaking out against the Honor Code.
“Student self-governance is broken [and has] fallen on only a tiny minority,” said Liao. He expressed that student apathy has become a campus-wide problem that forces us to reevaluate how the Honor Code is not working for the student body. Liao also objected to the fact that plenary was held during Lunar New Year this semester. He left plenary in protest after speaking, and was followed by a handful of other students.
Other students echoed that sentiment.
“The issue that I primarily have with the Honor Code is because numerous times I’ve seen friends come to plenary to talk about issues they have, but many times these friends… are ignored,” said Oliver Maupin ‘18. “This isn’t a healthy environment for discussing student governance. Every plenary we struggle to reach quorum.”
But unlike Liao, Maupin expressed support for opening ratification in order to have a platform for these discussions.
David Cookmeyer ‘16, an alum who was in attendance, also spoke about the different options for voting on whether or not to open ratification of the Honor Code. Cookmeyer “lived through the last special plenary,” and warned students about what going to special plenary would actually look like.
“When the Honor Code ceases to exist, we got a taste for what it’s like when there’s not an Honor Code,” said Cookmeyer. “A lot of rules the student government is able to have right now – those get ceded to the admin. Just wanted to make you aware of this right now… there are a lot of consequences if we don’t have a special plenary right now.”
Similarly, Cooro Harris ‘19 raised the question of what would replace the Honor Code in the event that it does not pass.
“Let’s move forward to a better and brighter place, but we need something in the interim,” said Harris.
Two students also spoke in support of the Honor Code, including Ben Burke ‘18, who stated that part of the reason he chose to attend Haverford was for its Honor Code. His sentiment reflected that the issues people may be having may not be a result of the Honor Code itself, but in the ways in which students may not always follow it.
“We need to strive to be better. We need to be thinking about [the Honor Code] actively,” said Burke. “The code is part of our essence – live it everyday in your best way.”
Students will vote on the Honor Code starting later this week.
If you would like to submit an article with your thoughts about plenary, please email Ellen Schoder at firstname.lastname@example.org