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Fall 2023: A Pre-Plenary Rundown

As the fall semester approaches its midpoint, Haverford students are preparing for Plenary, a biannual event that serves as a platform for raising, discussing, and debating critical campus issues. This Sunday, November 5th, students will consider three resolutions, as well as ratify the Alcohol Policy. 

In a pre-Plenary email sent last Thursday containing the Fall 2023 Plenary Packet, Students’ Council Co-Presidents Maria Reyes Pacheco ‘24 and Jorge Paz Reyes ‘24 urged the importance of attendance, no doubt due to the failure of Spring Plenary 2023

The email also gave special recognition to the campus walkout that occurred last Wednesday at Bryn Mawr and Haverford. This demonstration, organized by student groups in response to the administration’s stance on the conflict in Israel and Gaza, included a demand for accountability from Bryn Mawr and Haverford, and a brief occupation of President Raymond’s office in Founder’s Hall. Organizers criticized the administrations’ neutrality on the events, and urged the colleges to involve themselves in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, increase support for Palestinian students on campus, and provide opportunities for community education on the Palestinian liberation movement.

The email conveyed, “It was truly a powerful demonstration of our campus coming together to seek justice for the lives lost. As Students’ Council, we stand in solidarity with the demands brought by SJP [Bi-Co Students for Justice in Palestine], JVP [Bi-Co Jewish Voice for Peace], and SALT [Students for Abolition, Liberation, and Transformation].”

Moreover, the recent student demonstrations prompted notable structural changes to Plenary. The Co-Presidents are announcing an open-mic session, occurring in the 10 minutes following the Co-President’s opening remarks, to better address community concerns and to ensure that Plenary serves as a platform for students to voice their opinions. 

The pre-Plenary email also promised additional information regarding satellite rooms, accommodations, and other logistical details for Plenary in the coming week.

Once Quorum is reached, the open mic session held, and the rules of order ratified, the student body will engage in presentations and voting on three resolutions as follows:

RESOLUTION #1: COML (Community Outreach Multicultural Liaisons) Election Procedure

Presented by: Jillian Aguilar-Garfias ‘25, Samuel Diaz ‘25, Maya Cheam ‘25, James Wayman ‘25, Sydney Rucker ‘26, Eliana Brown ‘26

The proposed resolution revolves around a critical aspect of the school’s governance system, specifically focusing on the timing of elections for Community Outreach Multicultural Liaisons (COMLs). COMLs serve as liaisons between community members and Honor Council by handling Social Code issues related to identity, acting on behalf of the student(s) involved in violations of this nature.

At present, the election process for COMLs follows a staggered approach, with one pair chosen in November and the other in April. While this sequential system may have been designed to ensure a balanced representation of experienced and new members in the Council, it has inadvertently led to challenges related to the training of COMLs, potentially affecting their ability to perform their roles effectively.

The core problem lies in the discrepancy in training periods. The pair elected in November enjoys an extended training period, while the pair elected in April faces notable delays in their preparation. Such differences in training schedules introduce a divergence in their readiness to effectively fulfill their roles as liaisons within the diverse school community.

To address this concern, the resolution proposes a practical solution: the simultaneous election of both pairs of COMLs during the April elections. This adjustment would enable both pairs to undergo training concurrently, leading to a more streamlined and timely preparation process. Additionally, the proposal emphasizes the importance of aligning these elections with Students’ Council elections, to enhance coordination within the school’s leadership structure.

RESOLUTION #2: Students’ Council Clean Up

Presented by: Students’ Council

The proposed amendments to the Students’ Constitution encompass a range of changes aimed at enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the governance system within the school.

The first set of amendments focuses on constitutional updates, recognizing that amendments can be presented at Plenary by Students’ Council to refine internal functions. This is in response to the evolving needs and dynamics of the school community.

Second, the resolution emphasizes the need to update the descriptions of officers and representatives within the constitution. These amendments are driven by the recognition that the roles and responsibilities of student leaders have evolved to encompass new offices and positions that are crucial to student life and representation. In acknowledging this transformation, the proposed changes aim to ensure that the Constitution accurately reflects the current structure and function of the student government.

A third point addresses the establishment of a Constitutional mandate for the Facilities Fund. Historically administered by Students’ Council, this fund plays a vital role in improving the campus atmosphere and quality of student life. By enshrining its existence and purpose in the Constitution, the school guarantees that the Facilities Fund remains a permanent and integral part of its operations. This serves as a testament to the institution’s commitment to sustaining and enhancing the campus environment for the benefit of all students.

Lastly, the resolution addresses the time-consuming training required for Students’ Council’s Executive Board members. The proposal suggests an alteration to the Students’ Council election timeline, with the aim of electing Executive Board positions in February. This shift is designed to ensure that elected members can receive training before the summer and be appropriately compensated for their roles.

RESOLUTION #3: Raise the Student Minimum Wage

Presented by: Oliver Wilson ‘26

The proposed resolution raises several important concerns regarding the student minimum wage at Haverford College and aims to ensure that student workers are fairly compensated and their working conditions are improved, and tying this to the school’s Quaker principles that emphasize advocacy for workers’ rights as well as to the 2020 student strike.

Currently, the campus-wide student minimum wage stands at $10.50 per hour, making it the lowest among the Tri-Co institutions. Meanwhile, recent wage increases at Bryn Mawr College and Swarthmore College have significantly raised minimum wage standards, with Swarthmore College aiming for $15 per hour by July 2024. The resolution cites Haverford’s failure to adjust the student wage in line with inflation has resulted in an effective wage cut of over 15% since the beginning of 2020.

The resolution highlights the disproportionate impact of these wage disparities on First-Generation, Low-Income (FGLI), and BIPOC student workers.While students at other schools in the Tri-Co have engaged in collective action to advocate for wage increases, Haverford students have not.

The proposed resolution calls for the establishment of a Student Wage Task Force, consisting of student representatives from various impacted communities, alongside key college staff members. If passed, the resolution outlines that the committee’s first meeting would be held within one month after plenary. 

This task force aims to recommend raising the minimum hourly wage for student workers over the next few academic years to $14, $15, and $16, beginning in 2024-2025, 2025-2026, and 2026-2027, respectively. The wage increase also would occur independent of staff wages. The resolution also extends this pay increase to summer work positions, addressing unpaid work-related issues and advocating for a universal policy for Workday. Additionally, the resolution proposes that the student minimum wage is increased every two years to keep pace with inflation or other increases in the cost of living.

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