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Emergency Plenary Closing Town Hall Minutes

1. Introduction
2. Rules of Order, Presentation, and Voting
3. Presentation of Community Guidelines
4. Reading of Resolution
5. Q&A Presentation
6. Pro-Con
7. Conclusion


Maria: Hello everyone! Welcome to our second and last Emergency Plenary Town Hall. We want to thank you all for your engagement and trust in this process. I am Maria, one of the Co-presidents, and Jorge is the other Co-president. Up here we have our co-vice president Grant and our librarian Yasmin, our secretaries are taking minutes, and our other librarian Claire is running the zoom. We will begin with a moment of silence. As stated in the constitution Co-Presidents have the ability to set off further Plenary Sessions outside of the semesterly ones when 40% of the campus signs a petition to initiate the process. The last town hall Jorge and I talked about why we decided to use the town halls to bring dialogue. You can find those minutes sent out by our Co-Secretaries on Friday. We have seen a lot of dialogue and people brought together.

Jorge: During these past four days we have been talking to different community members trying to hear their perspectives. I was also doing some tabling at the DC and got to talk to a lot of people. The reality is a lot of people are really engaged and passionate about Haverford and what they stand for. We also have a portion of campus that has the privilege to not engage in dialogue and ignore the processes happening at Haverford. I think that is where we need to start reflecting as a community about why people do not engage. We also have talked to people about why they do not want to engage with the process, and that is fair. I want to encourage everyone to participate. You can no vote which still counts towards quorum, which means you can still participate in the community. It has been a very difficult process and we are almost there, we need 200 signatures. It would be really sad if we cannot reach quorum as it shows the community does not care enough about this issue.I think that is a reflection about the community if that does actually happen, We encourage everyone to reflect why they should engage with this issue. How does that reflect privilege and positionality? Keep in mind this issue is affecting people and they cannot ignore it and go to class.Also the other big issue is that this is something that is a part of being a part of our university. This has happened for years.I think that is something I want to emphasize. When we engage and think about why we are doing this. 

Maria: Something we have been talking about is the role of empathy and compassion in all of this. Have empathy when you engage and think about how it directly affects students on this campus. This affects a lot of Palestinian, Jewish, and Muslim students on this campus. This is a value statement and it is easy to vote on a google form. This is meant to encourage further dialogue and I think you have to be very reflective in this process. Thank you to everyone that has been engaging and talking to folks in their hall and teammates. Now we can begin going over the rules of procedure. 

Rules of Order, Presentation, and Voting

Maria: (i) Quorum: In order for quorum to be reached, at least 66% of the students living at Haverford must be counted in the total votes. For emergency plenary, this is 75% this is 1007 total votes. Voting will take place over the course of four days after the first Plenary Town Hall. 

(ii) Voting Options: When voting, students may choose one of the three options: “Yes,” indicating approval of the matter at hand; “No,” indicating disapproval and “no Vote,” indicating a conscious decision to not vote.

(iii) Majority Rules: Ratification of or amendments to the Alcohol Policy, the Plenary Rules of Order, and the Students’ Constitution will require a two-thirds (2⁄3) supermajority. Ratification of all other resolutions and amendments will require a simple one-half (1⁄2) majority.

(iv) Voting Procedures: Voting will take place over the course of four days after the first Plenary Town Hall. 

(v) Amendments to the Plenary Rules of Order

These may be presented and voted on prior to the presentation of the first resolution. As stated, amendments to the presented rules of order will require a ⅔ supermajority.

(vi) Pro-Con Debate

During any given pro-con debate a person will not speak for longer than 90 seconds or 1.5 minutes at any given interval, nor shall they be recognized by the chair more than two times. Upon each extension of a pro-con debate, a person may be recognized by the chair one (1) additional time.

(vii) Amendments

“Friendly Amendments” or “Unfriendly Amendments” can be presented to resolution writers with 75 signatures. Amendments were due this past Monday. 

(xiii) Recusal

To speak to the content of a resolution, a chair must step down until the proposal is resolved. The Co-Vice President(s) shall then preside for the remainder of that resolution.

(ix) Time Limit

The time limit for Plenary shall be two hours. If this time limit expires, the assembled Plenary shall vote to extend the time limit for half an hour no more than two times. If the assembled Plenary fails to extend the time limit by majority vote, the pending resolution (if any) will be voted on immediately, without further discussion.

Maria: Now we are opening the floor for debate. Does anyone have any amendments they would like to present to the rules of order? Great. With no amendments presented, we will now move on to ratify the Rules of Order as presented at the Town Hall.

At this time please raise your hand if you vote to ratify the rules of order. Raise your hand if you would like to vote against the rules of order. Raise your hand if you would like to abstain from ratifying the rules of order.

The rules of order pass in the room with more than 2/3rds ratifying the rules of order. If there are any objections, please come forward now. Seeing none, we can proceed with the presentation of community guidelines and logistics.

Presentation of Community Guidelines

Jorge: As Chairs of Plenary, Students’ Council is bound to ensure that the values of respect are met even when people disagree with one another; this is at the center of the value and meaning of Plenary. While every member is always bound to the standards of the Social Code, given the concerns brought up by community members we believe it is important to delineate community guidelines for all discussion at Emergency Plenary so that we can be intentional in how we communicate and show care and respect to our fellow peers. 

Maria: The following guidelines have been modified using a list established by Nikki Young, Vice President for Institutional Equity and Access. Please listen carefully First:

  • Because we listen to understand and learn from one another
    • When another is speaking, listen without interruption. Write questions, use hand raising or other agreed upon signaling to be recognized.
  • Because we inquire from a place of curiosity rather than argument
    • Ask questions grounded in the resolution. Indicate root of question (ie. clarity, additional information, correction, etc.)
  • Because we question ideas, claims, and statements NOT people, perspectives, or experiences
    • Structure questions and comments in relation to stated or otherwise articulated matters. 
  • Because we speak with compassion, care, and thoughtfulness. We contribute hopes, stories, and ideas with integrity, wisdom, and respect
    • Avoid inflammatory, derogatory, or otherwise charged language while speaking authentically and using “I statements” when appropriate so we don’t speak for other people.
  • Because we make space for all voices, especially those often unheard and/or under-valued.
    • As such, we ask that all individuals speak for 1.5 minutes to ensure time for other participants. We will have Yasmin to hold cards so that folks can see when their time is out. Co-Presidents or whoever is chairing will ensure quiet while individuals speak and will have moments of silence so that folks can have time to process and a chance to speak.
  • Because we recognize humanity and the light in one another so we treat each other with kindness and care. 
    • Any forms of doxxing, especially through social media, will not be tolerated. 

Jorge: We will be projecting these as a reminder during Pro/Con as well as the Q & A portion. With that being said, the resolution titled Ceasefire Resolution can be presented. Since Maria and I will be part of the presentation the VPs will chair until the conclusion of the presentation. Before we begin, we will hold a moment of silence and we invite you all to reflect on the guidelines before we begin. We now invite the Co-Sponsors for the initial presentation of the resolution.

Reading of Resolution

JVP/JSU Representative: Hello, I am coming as a representative for JVP and JSU. A representative from MSA could not come today. As members of JVP, MSA, and JSU, we cannot sit in silence while the enormous destruction of civilian life in Israel/Palestine continues. We cannot emphasize enough and we want to remind everyone that the violence in Gaza and Israel since October 7, 2023 has resulted in the deaths of more than 25,700 Palestinians and more than 1,200 Israelis, the taking of at least 250 Israelis, and at least 6,000 Palestinians, which causes ongoing suffering of both Israeli and Palestinian communities. As a student body, this resolution publicly makes a stand against this ongoing violence and calls on peer academic institutions, our surrounding community, and elected officials to do the same. This ongoing war has had a major impact on all of our communities – both within Haverford and at home — and we hope that by endorsing this Resolution, we can contribute to calling for an end to it. This destruction has had very real impacts for many of our community members as well, most visibly being the shooting of one of our own Palestinian students. In addition to our religious backgrounds, as students at a Quaker institution, we seek to uphold our college’s values of non-violence and anti-militarism and encourage others to do the same.

Maria:  Whereas the violence in Gaza and Israel since October 7, 2023 has resulted in the deaths of more than 26,700 Palestinians, more than 1,200 Israelis, and the taking of at least 250 Israeli hostages and the apprehension of an additional 5000 Palestinian civilians; and,  

Whereas more than 85% of the population in Gaza, nearly 1.9 million people, have been displaced since the bombardments began on early October 7, 2023; and,

Whereas entire neighborhoods, infrastructure, hospitals, schools, and Muslim and Christian places of worship have been destroyed contributing to the erasure of Palestinian communities and culture; and, 

Whereas, Haverford College (“The College”), guided by values intrinsic to its Quaker heritage and to the democratic ethos of liberal arts education, seeks to promote justice, equality, tolerance, respect, and peace among its members and between them and members of broader communities; and,

Whereas, the College is a place of education, pledged to providing an education that empowers students to embody “a collaborative spirit, and a commitment to improving the world”; and,

Whereas the United States plays a key role in the financing of armed violence in the region; and,

Whereas, “we (Haverford College) are a peace-seeking community within the United States that condemns violence in principle”; and,

Whereas the violence in Gaza and Israel directly affects Palestinians and Israelis which impacts Jewish, Muslim, Arab, and countless other community members; therefore

Jorge: Now, Be It Resolved, the Student Association of Haverford College calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza; and, 

Now, Be It Resolved,  the Student Association of Haverford College calls for local Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, Philadelphia and Pennsylvania governments to support the call for a immediate and permanent ceasefire; and 

Now, Therefore Be It Resolved that the Student Association calls for Haverford College and peer educational institutions to stand for peace and anti-militarism to promote restoration of basic rights and that the security of civilians is prioritized.

Since the first town hall we have updated some of the citations to reflect current numbers.

Q & A Presentation 

Grant We will now begin a time for question and answer which will be 15 minutes long but first we will hold a moment of silence so we can all process what we heard. Thank you. As a reminder, please come down to the microphone to ask a question. The presenter will then respond. We will be alternating from the Zoom to the auditorium to ensure all spaces are able to engage. As mentioned previously all minutes will be anonymized and the webinar camera will be pointing to the audience. However we do ask if you speak that you write your name on the piece of paper where the mic is so that the secretaries can reach out after the Town Hall to confirm they recorded what you said correctly. Lastly, please follow the community guidelines when presenting your question. We specifically want to highlight the following

We inquire from a place of curiosity rather than argument.[THEREFORE]Ask questions grounded in the resolution. Indicate root of question (ie. clarity, additional information, correction, etc.)
We question ideas, claims, and statements NOT people, perspectives, or experiences.[THEREFORE]Structure questions and comments in relation to stated or otherwise articulated matters. 

Also remember to use “I statements” so we do not speak on behalf of other people. We will begin the time for Q&A now. If anyone has any questions please approach the mic. 

1: Hello, I have a question, what would happen if the resolution fails to pass?

Jorge: Thank you. Right now we need 200 signatures. I was depending on what the co-sponsors were to do, there are various avenues for the resolution to take. One is that it fails. One is it could be reintroduced at regular plenary. This is something Maria and I try not to do. We wanted to focus the emergency plenary on this resolution. But if it gets introduced to regular plenary then it will have to be voted by the entire campus. That is a possibility that it could be introduced. One thing Maria and I want is to encourage people to vote now. We want it in this process rather than a regular plenary.

Maria: We are trying to structure these town halls in as welcoming a way as possible. Sometimes we receive feedback that that doesn’t feel possible at regular plenary so we wanted to get this done through emergency plenary.

Grant: If there are other questions, please come forward to the mic or post your question on zoom.

Grant: We will wait a couple more minutes. 

2: What if it only passes by a simple majority and is not representative of the entire community.

Maria: Jorge and I don’t want to cover up or hide the actual numbers of the resolution. It’s a statement about how the campus truly feels about the resolution. That in itself guides future generations of Fords and also informs those outside of campus about the climate on our campus and what students actually think. For us, it is not about swaying things, we want all forms of engagement whether you agree or disagree.

Jorge: We want to create unity. Unity means we can engage and disagree but have dialogue. Whatever result it shows, it shows we can all come together and vote despite the differences in perspective.

3: If the resolution were to pass, what channels would it be communicated through so that it’s not just like it passes and then goes nowhere?

Maria: We received this question last time too. I think that is one of the reasons why we have been reiterating why this resolution intends to be the groundwork for things to come and things already happening. At the end of the day it is a statement. It has some form of a seal or approval in the ways it has gone through. It has gone through the Haverfordian plenary procedure. From there it can be used by student groups in different ways. Ideas are taking it to lobbying campaigns that people are doing in Lower Merion and Philly. It would show that there is a student body committed to this cause. The other thing is also having a trickle down effect of showing other student governments how we were able to do this. We will reach out to Bryn Mawr and Swat about the process.

Jorge: One of the main points of the resolution is calling on local officials. That will be up to Maria and I to let the officials know how a large portion of the Haverford student body feels. We will send them emails and other forms. We will share the outcome and the context of it.

4: If the resolution isn’t passed, how else can we as a community continue to promote said unity. 

Maria: This is a plug in some ways, we have been very encouraged by the conversation in spaces that were set aside. We have been able to see how folks in those spaces can have respect and empathy even if they disagree with each other. I think there are a lot of different offices on campuses that are trying to do more of that work, a lot of clubs that do work on campus as well as off campus. I encourage you to tap into these places. As well as noticing that these conversations don’t need to be formal. Haverford culture has always been having conversations at the dc, in your dorm, with your costumes team.We really want to encourage folks to do that. Yes, it may feel unformattable or awkward, but this is the best place to engage in these discussions. 

Jorge: We are hopeful that whatever outcome comes from this process. We want this to be an opportunity for students to continue these dialogues. I had the chance to be in a conversation with many students of different perspectives.  I was very welcome to different spaces so I know those conversations are happening in smaller rooms. I hope this process shows that those conversations can still happen in smaller or larger settings. We are going to be super transparent and release the breakdown of the voting. We want to show that people did engage.

Grant: There are now 2 minutes left of Q&A.


Grant: That concludes the Q&A, we will now hold a moment of silence before proceeding to Pro-Con. Now begins the pro/con debate which will be 15 minutes long. Speakers will be given one and a half minutes to present their reasons for supporting or opposing the resolution. Please look at Yasmin who will hold a 30 second heads up and then a STOP when your time is over. We will be alternating from the Zoom to the auditorium to ensure all spaces are able to engage. As mentioned previously all minutes will be anonymized the webinar camera will ot be pointing to the audience. However we do ask if you speak that you write your name on the piece of paper where the mic is so that the secretaries can reach out after the Town Hall to confirm they recorded what you said correctly. Lastly, please follow the community guidelines when presenting your opinion or argument. We will project them up on the screen and hold a moment for folks to refresh themselves.We will begin here in the auditorium. We will begin with someone speaking in favor of the resolution.

5: I am pro this resolution. Tikkun olam is Hebrew for repairing the world. I do not see a better approach to repairing the world than ending militarism. My religion has guided me, one thing I like to remember is all life is sacred and all loss of life is tragic and should be taken seriously. The sheer volume of deaths is devastating and the fact that we at Haverford have continued to act like nothing’s happening because it is not immediately in front of our eyes is so upsetting that I cannot put it into words. Everytime I open my phone I see images that have been affected by militarism in this region. Before I got up here, I read the news that a 13 year old boy had just been shot in Ramallah and died. Haverford college is a quakere institution. What we stand for is peace and an end to militarism. Ongoing death is not what this institution stands for and it is not what my religion stands for. Thank you.

Grant: I will now read a con from zoom. 

6: I am a member of the Jewish community, and I write this with regret that I can’t speak up and share my perspective due to fear of backlash, either in person or on social media. These last few months have been incredibly challenging for me and my family. The unbearable loss of innocent lives on both sides is heartbreaking. While I hope we can all agree that the conflict didn’t start on Oct 7th, those who justify the Oct 7th massacre and refer to Hamas as “Freedom Fighters” should reflect on their morality. Rape is NOT resistance, burning families alive is NOT resistance, kidnapping innocent people from their beds is NOT resistance. Holding babies and seniors hostage is NOT resistance. I can hardly believe I have to say this.

Imagine the whole school debating and issuing strong statements about something personal and emotional to you – would you feel welcomed and supported? Sadly, some students base their firm conviction on what they read on social media despite rampant disinformation. Shouldn’t we reach out to one another for meaningful, respectful, even uncomfortable conversations? Wouldn’t you be interested to hear, first-hand, what it is like to live in Israel or Gaza?

While calling for a ceasefire as a quick solution is tempting, wasn’t there a ceasefire on Oct 6th? Didn’t Hamas vow to repeat their attacks again and again until the destruction of Israel?

Israel is not perfect, far from it, and I have a lot of criticism for the Israeli government. However, we have to distinguish between politics and the people. Our moral duty is to recognize the immense pain and personal tragedies. Don’t belittle the pain of those who have family in the region or are directly affected.

I support a ceasefire if and ONLY if it cares for the people on both sides. There are still 134 hostages held in tunnels, with no visitations by the Red Cross. These hostages are likely being kept in cages, tortured, and sexually abused, based on what we hear from the ones already released. Some of these hostages have already been murdered. As you demand a ceasefire from Israel, what are your demands from Hamas? Do you also DEMAND the unconditional release of the hostages? Do you DEMAND that Hamas, who has been terrorizing both Israelis and Palestinians, be removed from power and put down their weapons?

I admire the efforts to create unity and a more welcoming environment. Peace and coexistence can start here on our campus!

I am pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, pro-humanity. I am anti-Hamas, and I hope every person with a moral compass would agree with that.

I pray for peace in the Middle East.

Grant: We will now call for a pro.

7: I think perspectives like that are very important to introduce into these conversations. The purpose of this resolution is to promote these conversations. While that was absolutely necessary to include and valid, I think that really paying attention to the language in the resolution and what is being presented is what we need to be focusing on. I think if we start going into the personal stories in terms of whether this resolution should pass or not, we are going to go back and forth for as long as needed. That is the purpose of town hall and smaller group discussion as this big debate of this resolution. The end of that point I agree with, I certainly agree that if we are for the end of violence then signing this resolution is integral to pushing that forward. Signing this whether you agree or not is the push for those conversations and perspectives to be heard.

Grant: We will now call for a con.

8: One of the whereas statements of the resolution is that Haverford is guided by values intrinsic to its Quaker heritage and to the democratic ethos of liberal arts education. Something said by one of the people that presented the resolution is we seek to promote justice, equality, tolerance, respect, and peace among its members and between them and members of broader communities.

I respect and I trust the values of the students who are being guided by their quaker values in supporting the resolution. I think that is an important way to engage as a Haverford student. I think one thing against the resolution is it makes it sound like that is the only direction that quaker values can go. I also want to acknowledge that I trust and respect students guided by trust and peace and other quaker values. Their decision based on those values not to support the resolution is also a valid option.

Grant: We will now call for a pro. 

Grant: Seeing no additional pros, we now call for a con.

Grant: Seeing no additional cons, we now call for a pro.

9: I first want to recognize everyone that demonstrated their courage and sympathy by sharing their values and points. That is exactly what we are going to do for this resolution. I see that by engaging like this already, we are building progress in the sense of dialogue. I also want to recognize this resolution serves more than just dialogue alone. Haverford as the college needs to step up. This is one way to demonstrate that.  I really hope to engage this further next year. This is only the beginning. It can feel cliche, but I believe it is so important to continue this conversation. It follows up with words and action and demands and sympathy so we can create what we seek to value. This is the first step of many, but let’s not overlook it. Let’s get this momentum going. Let’s really pass this resolution.

Grant: Thank you. That concludes the pro/con debate. The presenters will now be given 3 minutes to respond.

Jorge: Thank you so much for all the pros and cons. One of our last speakers said this is part of the process and is key to being at Haverford and exercising student governance and holding students and administration accountable. Thank you everyone for participating and expressing your opinions and engaging. Whether you agree or disagree we want you to engage or vote. We want to show the president in the years to come that we have the ability to do this and debate and talk about topics that matter to our community. That is not only because we have people from that region but also the United States is a big actor and because we are a quaker institution with quaker values

Maria; I appreciate everyone’s comments. Thank you everyone.

Grant: That now concludes the official presentation and discussion of the resolution and we invite the co-chairs back to conclude the remainder of the town hall.


Maria: Thank you all for coming and engaging. We appreciate everyone’s courage.We hope this is just the beginning of that. We want to remind folks to vote by 9pm. Please remind everyone to vote.

Jorge: We already have 813 students participating in the process. We need 200 more. Please remind all of your friends to participate and vote. 

Maria: We are formally adjourned.

Note: The name of the JVP/JSU Representative was removed due to privacy and safety concerns.

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