By Matthew Denton ’24 and Zhao Gu Gammage ’25
“l don’t know that Haverford students want student government,” says Jack Crump, ’23, the Elections Coordinator. After a four-hour failed plenary on Sunday, in which quorum was lost eight times, many are left questioning a cornerstone of the Haverford community.
Students convened on Sunday in the GIAC gymnasium to debate four new resolutions and most importantly to ratify the Honor Code, but left without voting on most of these issues due to an inability to keep quorum.
The proceedings were slated to begin at two o’clock. Students could attend in person or over Zoom and the majority of attendees chose to attend the event virtually. However, Plenary did not begin for an hour and a half, since the student body could not reach the two-thirds threshold, or about 939 students, required.
While waiting to reach quorum, Ileana Rodriguez ‘25, the sophomore class representative, surveyed students’ thoughts on plenary and later transitioned to running trivia. Student representatives from Bi-Co Mutual Aid, Students for Reproductive Health, and the Committee of Environmental Responsibility also made announcements while waiting for quorum to be met.
The first resolution, presented by Lucas Sherman ‘25 and Sam Monks ‘23, requested that students not have class on Election Day, and that student workers get paid time off to vote. Despite concerns from students about non-eligible voters missing class unnecessarily and the logistics of rescheduling class, the resolution passed.
The first resolution took approximately half an hour to adjudicate; the second, due to several instances of losing quorum, took twice as long.
Grant DeVries ‘26 and Kabir Hinduja-Obregon ’26 proposed the second resolution, which advocates for instituting a ranked-choice voting system for student elections to reduce the number of runoff elections that the current model creates. Students had concerns about the resolution’s futility, and argued that the lack of participation in elections, rather than their format, was the real issue. However, the writers mentioned that many underclass students ran for elected office, and that ranked choice voting would have made those elections run more smoothly.
Before the votes were cast, the attendance fell below quorum for the fifth time, at which point Co-President Abdul-Rasaaq Shittu ‘23 lamented, “At this point, it’s just comical.”. After fifteen more minutes of waiting, during which snacks were distributed and quorum regained, the resolution passed.
The third resolution, written by Emily Almgren ‘24, Sarah Campbell ‘24, Joey Carol ‘25, and Janani Suresh ‘23, proposed to rewrite parts of the Academic Code. With a focus on restorative justice, the group suggested that language surrounding separation from the community, as well as the word “trial,” be removed from the code. The resolution would also create a new outlet for students to communicate with professors regarding breaches of trust.
Although each of these points were discussed in relative depth, the discussion proved fruitless. Quorum was lost three more times, leaving the students in the gym frustrated. Students’ Council advised that they would record in-person student votes if they were unable to vote online, but the resolution still needed around 100 more votes, though there were no technical issues reported in-person. After Shittu ’23 offered a final plea to vote, the resolution still did not reach quorum, likely because students on Zoom were not present at their computers to vote, and ultimately failed.
After four-and-a-half hours StuCo finally decided to end Plenary, at 6:20pm. According to the Rules of Order, StuCo can choose to move to a Special Plenary only when either after half an hour of lost quorum has elapsed or when the Honor Code has not been ratified after two half-hour exentions. Although neither of these situations had occured – it had only been around 20 minutes since quorum was lost and only two and a half hours had elapsed since quorum was first gained – Students’ Council announced a switch to Special Plenary.
Now, students will have six weeks to petition for a Special Plenary, an event which requires 40% of students to approve it. During Special Plenary, ratifications need a three-fourths majority of the student body to pass. If the Honor Code is not ratified at this event, both it and the Alcohol Policy will no longer be in effect. If Sunday’s attendance is any indicator, the Honor Code is on thin ice.
Lisette Pham ’23, Students’ Council Co-President remarked that a move to Special Plenary is very “troublesome for our future” and feared that the Haverford community is “losing our values…people are forgetting why they came to Haverford.”
I would like to clarify that while we were not without overall quorum for more than 30 minutes, we did hold the vote open on the 3rd vote for over 30 minutes and were not able to reach quorum on that vote. In addition to the overall quorum, each vote is required to reach quorum, which the 3rd vote did not. There were roughly 100 people who were technically in attendance but did not vote on that resolution within that time. Additionally, I know that some people were sending out the voting form in group chats. Only people in attendance are allowed to vote on plenary resolutions so continuing voting put us at increased risk of people voting who were not eligible to do so.
I think I understand, but this seems to directly contradict what was said at Plenary. It seemed there that if quorum is not reached for a vote, eventually the chairs can declare the resolution failed and move on. Is there no process for this? After all, it was announced that the resolution failed, even if that has been retracted.
While that is true that we could have said the resolution failed and tried to move on to the last resolution + opening ratification. I think that the failure of quorum for that vote for over 30 minutes allows the Co-Presidents to enforce the 30 minutes without quorum clause and move to end Plenary. Ultimately, even after 30 minutes the Co-Presidents don’t have to end Plenary if they see a path forward, but it was clear to those at the front of the room at the time that we would not be able to get through the last resolution or open Honor Code ratification at that Plenary. The decision on when to end a vote resides with the Elections Coordinators. We did try to make every effort that the third vote would reach quorum, but the numbers were not there.
The third resolution did fail due to lack of quorum, which is what I announced right before Plenary ended. I have not retracted that in any sense. Like any resolution that fails at Plenary, the resolution writers have the right to bring it again at another Plenary.
This might strike some of you as a bit harsh, but I sincerely hope that if you did not show up to Plenary (in person or over Zoom) that you fail all your classes.