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Original art for The Clerk by Nava Mach '27

Emergency Plenary Opening Town Hall Minutes

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


Maria: Hello everyone! Welcome to our first 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. To our right are our co-secretaries Emma and Thea, to the left, our VP’s Kabir and Grant, and the election coordinator Clay. 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. But why use Plenary to bring a ceasefire resolution? 

Jorge: First, because Maria and I as Co-Presidents could not rightfully ignore the importance of the violence in Gaza, especially after the events of last semester. Last semester, time and time again, we were told that we needed to use the “Haverfordian” mechanisms in place to promote inclusivity and dialogue. And as we reflected during the break we saw Plenary as just the way to do that and a structure that was within our jurisdiction as a Students’ Association. Plenary at its core is grounded in all these procedures of Q&A, pro-con, and amendments because it is intended to bring the student body together to discuss issues or concerns as a community. 

Maria: As cheesy as it may sound there is no community without unity. And here we emphasize that we do not mean unity in the sense that every single student shares the same values. If this were the case all resolutions would pass with consensus. If this was the case we students of color wouldn’t experience microaggressions on the day-to-day even though we are part of an “anti-racist institution.” So, yes Plenary is intended to unify the student body even if we don’t all agree and this is grounded in the foundational principles of shared trust and respect which we signed up for when we became Fords.  

Maria: Second, we saw this as an opportunity to actively bring folks in. As such when we drafted this resolution we tried to take into account the many voices we heard last semester. We wanted to talk to as many stakeholders across the spectrum of opinions so we began reaching out to folks from JSU, Chabad, HSP, SJP, MSA and JVP at the start of the semester. We sent a draft of a resolution to all these groups and met in person with representatives from each group. After receiving their feedback we tried to incorporate it as much as possible given each group’s different interests. We then invited any groups interested to co-sponsor the resolution as well. We also gave all groups and community members the opportunity to submit amendments. 

Jorge: Lastly, we recognize that this resolution alone cannot stop the violence happening. However, the goal for this resolution is to build a groundwork for continued activism and advocacy across the Tri-Co and region so that we can build collective support for an end to loss of life and militarism. 

Maria: Now before we begin we will be going over the rules of procedure which as stated by the constitution are determined by the Students’ Council and presented at the start of Plenary to guide discussion and for ratification.

Rules of Order, Presentation, and Voting

Jorge: (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. 

Maria: (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.

Jorge: 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.

Maria: 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 Clay 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

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,  

Jorge: 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,

Maria: 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

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.

JVP Representative: I come as a representative for JVP.

MSA Representative: I am the representative for MSA.

JSU Representative: I am presenting from JSU. 

JVP Representative: 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.

MSA Representative: 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. 

JSU Representative: 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.

Q & A Presentation 

Kabir: 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 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 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 here in the auditorium. If anyone has any questions please approach the mic. 

1: Hello, I am just wondering if this resolution is passed then what specifically do you think is going to change about the ways students do activism on campus in regards to this issue? What immediate or tangible effect will this resolution have if passed?

Maria: Thank you. This is something that we have reiterated since the start. Yes the resolution is written as a value statement but we believe it will have an impact in the community and that’s what we can point to. I think we noticed in the past semester, a lot of these conversations have died out as some people have the privilege to ignore what is going on. By having the space to show what respectful dialogue can look like even when you disagree with someone, the goal is that it can create a trickle effect where people continue to engage with this issue, and enter spaces where people are advocating for this issue.

Jorge: Last semester we heard a lot from members of the community that we are a fractured community and we cannot engage in dialogue. One of the main goals is to prove them wrong and that we do engage in dialogue and we can come together as a community with a specific stand.I think that is something that we are really valuing here, the process of going through these dialogues. 

2: This is a simple clarification.The resolution as read aloud seems to vary from the text on the screen a little bit. Has it been changed or was it simplified for being read?

Maria: Our apologies, we accidentally pulled up the draft to project on the screen. Whatever is on the plenary packet is the resolution. 

Kabir: By discretion of the chair, we will be concluding 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 Clay 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.

Grant: We will begin with someone speaking in favor of the resolution.

3: Hello, I am a member of the JSU board who signed on to co-sponsor this resolution. I am in favor of passing this resolution, grounded in the values of recognizing human rights and human dignity for all Palestinains. We encourage everyone to sign on as it is our duty as students and citizens of the world to call for a ceasefire. 

Grant: We will now call for anyone speaking against the resolution. Seeing no one speaking against, we will call for another pro for the resolution.

4: I think that in all previous anti-war movements all sections of society have made an opposition to these actions. Even if these things seem insignificant it is important to not let things happen in your name go over in silence. I think this resolution can be a part of something and it is important to make these things. If you look into the past there is a precedent of these things working. 

Grant: We will now call for anyone speaking against the resolution. Seeing no one speaking against, we will call for another pro for the resolution.

5: I feel like in a college where our main emphasis is on dialogue and talking, no one’s belief exempts them from dialogue and open communication. I am a Jewish student and my belief has changed a lot from dialogue. Being open is what this resolution aims more and student solidarity and being able to get together and talk in an open way is a powerful statement to make.

Grant: We will now call for anyone speaking against the resolution. Seeing no one speaking against, we will call for another pro for the resolution. Seeing no pros, we will ask for any additional people speaking against the resolution. Seeing no more cons, we will conclude pro con debate.

Jorge: Chair, can we have more time for cons, I know it is hard to speak up. Is that allowed?

Grant: Yes, we will allow more time.


6: Would the chair take another speaker for the pro?

Grant: Yes.

6: Between the library and the DC is the Haverford College Peace Garden and Peace Pole. On this pole is inscribed, “May peace prevail on earth”. These are irrefutably the values of our college, and without question we should support this resolution. 

To my fellow Jewish students: please, if you have something to say, say it. We have wanted dialogue for so long, so if you have something to say please say it. But for me, the words of the prophet Isaiah ring out loud and clear:

“And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, and they shall study war no more.” (Isaiah, Chapter 2, Verse 4). Support this resolution. 

Grant: We now call on anyone to speak against the resolution. Seeing no cons, we call on anyone to speak for the resolution.

7: Hello everyone, I speak as a student from MSA. I want to remind everyone that Ramadan is around the corner. People in Gaza have been denied the ability to pray and observe Ramadann. Calling for a ceasefire as a student association is very powerful, especially to give admin the push they need in their stance to call for a permanent and immediate ceasefire. I support this resolution so that people can observe, Islam, Christianity, Judaism or any religion without the fear of being attacked or murdered.

Grant: Thank you we have time for one additional con.

8: I think regardless of how you feel about the issue as a whole, we can all agree that the last five months have been tragic. On one side of the conflict, you have the tragedy of October 7th, where more Jews died on that day than any day since the Holocaust. On the other side of the conflict, you have the violence that has followed in Gaza, in which a horrifically large number of people have died and the images coming out are conscience-shocking.  I think that we need to hold both of these communities in our hearts. I think the values of dialogue and empathy are admirable and what we need to strive for. I guess my issue with the resolution is minor. The resolution calls for an end to one of the tragedies, but it doesn’t call for the end of the other, as it doesn’t call for the release of the hostages. I oppose this resolution because it doesn’t include parallel language to the call for a ceasefire with the release of hostages. I think as a community we can hold both sides in our heart. 

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

Jorge: Thank you everyone. We appreciate everyone’s insights. First we are really grateful you engaged. That was great. It gave us a lot of insight on the resolution. One thing I would like to address when writing the resolution with the different community stakeholders is that one of our main goals was to present something that all the stakeholders could agree on. That was a very difficult challenge. We have so many different perspectives as a community. It was really hard to find a common ground for the specific text. At the end, the three main things we wrote as our value statements focus on the student body, the communities around us and the officials for a ceasefire. We did not get into the specifics of solving the conflict as we are not equipped to do so. We are seeking peace as a community and want to stand with the values of Haverford. I know for some community members this may not be enough but we want to stand for peace as a community. That’s why the three main things of the resolution are calling for a ceasefire. Within the context of the region, we tried to balance by providing numbers on both sides. That is why the resolution looks like it does. Thank you for all of the pro and con debate 

Kabir: 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 in what was definitely not an easy discussion but a meaningful one. It had a lot of silence, but I think it is good for us to sit in our silence. Oftentimes we can get so stuck in our own bubbles and comfort that we don’t actually get to listen and hear from one another. We hope that this town hall was just the beginning of that.

Jorge: We know that this is only one space where discussions like these can happen and we encourage you all to continue using the guidelines we used in all your discussions whether it be in the classroom, at the dining center, at practice, or in your dorm. 

Maria: Lastly, after we adjourn the Google Form for voting will be sent out, so please encourage your friends to vote and engage! With that, thank you all for coming. Don’t hesitate to schedule a meeting with us in the coming days and we look forward to seeing some of you on Sunday as well. 

Jorge: Due to the nature of asynchronous plenary, the voting will be open from today to Sunday., we will have a closing town hall on Sunday that will have Q&A and pro/con. I will say encourage your peers to engage in dialogue. Have conversations on your own and on Sunday. Please engage and come. We are formally adjourned.

Note: The names of the JVP, MSA, and JSU Representatives were removed due to privacy and safety concerns.

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