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Fall Plenary 2022 Recap: Students Vote On More, Care About Less

Haverford’s annual Fall plenary was last Sunday, October 23. Although the student body hit quorum in record time, this plenary was longer than many recent examples, spanning just over four hours. Around one-third of people attended on Zoom, with considerably more people leaving the in-person event and rejoining online as the plenary progressed. 

At 2:00 PM, hundreds of students lined up outside of the GIAC, with the line spanning down the pathway near the South parking lot. After 26 minutes, 940 students were in attendance, the most amount of people ever needed to hit quorum. This semester, five resolutions were planned to be up for a vote, another record high. 

As the second plenary to implement electronic voting, many in-person participants faced network connectivity issues and slow wifi, prompting people to vote by class year in the hopes that it would be less of a strain on the internet connection. The internet connectivity continued to pose a problem so Students’ Council switched to informal voting in-person and Zoom polls for some of the later resolutions. 

After Students’ Council Co-Presidents Rasaaq Shittu ’23 and Lisette Pham ’23 quickly read the State of the Ford address and reviewed the agenda and rules of order, the resolutions began. Quorum was then briefly lost but regained within a minute.

Resolution #1: Expansion of CAPS – Passed

Active Minds, a club that advocates for mental health visibility on-campus, presented the first resolution. This resolution aims to give more funding to CAPS to expand its staff, create more group therapy options, and be able to reimburse more students who seek off-campus therapy. Active Minds Co-head Ethan Ezray ’23 clarifies that this resolution aims to give CAPS more “priority to get more funding as opposed to something that has lower priority in the strategic plan. It’s already being funded but we want it to be prioritized more.”

In the Q&A section, Grant DuVries ’26 asked if any program would lose funding due to an increase in CAPS funding. Talia Levine ’25, a club representative, responded with “That would need to be the outcome, but it’s more we want CAPS to get more funding and not that we want other places to get less funding.” Other students probed into where the resolution sources funding and the specifics about what would and would not get funded.

In the pro-con debate, four students spoke in favor of the resolution, citing their personal experience with CAPS and the importance of this conversation being brought up. One of two people who spoke against the resolution cited how “if we want to see these changes we need to have more specific plans for administration moving forward.”

In response to the pro-con debate, Active Minds reiterated that this resolution aims to increase the opportunities for funding CAPS. With no friendly or unfriendly amendments, the resolution went to a vote and passed after many minutes were spent trying to collect enough votes, and quorum was immediately lost.

Resolution #2: HaverSanctuary – Passed

After a few minutes quorum was regained and Yehyun Song ’25 and Estrella Pacheco ’25, the resolution’s co-presenters, were joined by around 20 other people, representing 10 affinity groups, to present this resolution. This resolution proposes to make Haverford a sanctuary campus, which would ensure that undocumented students would be protected from immigration enforcement who do not present a valid warrant. Pacheco points out how right now “Not all students have the privilege of a safe home to return to” and how this resolution would work to ensure that all students would have this privilege. 

Willie Aguilar Montenegro ’25 spoke in favor of the resolution, saying that “Not every student has the privilege of citizenship and does not experience the same privileges during life on campus.” No student chose to speak against this resolution. After the pro-con portion, Song reiterated the importance of this resolution by appealing to athletes, saying that “This is about safety. For athletes who are undocumented, they’re afraid of bringing their parents to watch them play.”

After around 35 minutes of presentation, this resolution went up for a vote and passed. After the lengthy vote concluded, quorum was lost for 9 minutes as students left the GIAC, but rejoined over zoom.

Resolution #3: Voting Majority Reform – Failed

Labeled “boring but necessary,” by its presenter Nick Lasinsky ’23, this resolution stirred much contention within the student body. This resolution aims to require that all resolutions must have a ⅔ majority to pass, as opposed to the current policy which allows for some resolutions to be passed with a majority vote. 

One person was curious about the potential impact of this resolution and asked if Lasinsky had any examples of resolutions that passed between the ½ and ⅔ threshold. He cited the athlete/non-athlete divide but did not have any concrete examples.

In the pro/con debate, five students spoke for the resolution, and five against it. Ashley Schefler ’23 spoke in favor of this resolution, noting that it “will encourage people to write better resolutions if their one failed.” Darius Sloan ’23, spoke against the resolution, saying how “Most resolutions that pass go through Wendy so there’s already a high bar for the resolutions that pass to do something.” Lasinsky responded to the debate by invoking the importance of solidarity when passing resolutions, stating that “There’s something really communal in resolutions that garner support from campus.”  

This vote needed a ⅔ majority to pass, and the vote count was close. There were too many technical difficulties with online voting, so Students’ Council asked people in-person to come up to the table and say their vote. Someone tallied votes on a notebook paper and after counting the in-person votes and online votes, the resolution failed. 

Resolution #4: Increase Student OneCard Access to Dorm Buildings – Passed

Jack Crump ’23 and Isha Mehta ’23 presented this resolution, which proposes the OneCard dorm access policy be reconsidered. This resolution took the longest time, spanning about an hour. Before COVID, students’ OneCard could unlock all dorms for the majority of the day, but because of COVID, this policy has been restricted to only allow OneCards to unlock students’ individual dorms. 

A few students asked about the specifics of this resolution, asking about specific policy changes, such as which dorms do and do not count towards universal access, but the resolution writers responded by stating that they do not have any specific requests and reiterating that “This is a resolution that starts a conversation.”

This resolution also sparked debate. The main support for the resolution was that it is more convenient for students to have universal access as opposed to having to get someone to open the door. After an initial 10 minutes of pro-con debate, students then voted on whether to extend the debate. The vote failed and they continued to friendly and unfriendly resolutions.

This resolution was the only resolution to have a friendly amendment. The first person to propose an amendment was Anna Malkov ’23, via Zoom. She proposed that affinity houses would be excluded from universal access, in response to someone saying how affinity houses could be targeted if a universal access policy were to be implemented. A friendly amendment needs the approval of the resolution writers and an unfriendly amendment only needs 75 plenary participants to approve. Since Malkov’s proposal did not meet either of these requirements, it was dropped. 

Another student proposed a friendly amendment that would establish a committee of a representative spread of students which would present and work with members of the administration on the creation of this new policy. This friendly amendment passed. No unfriendly amendments were proposed so it was up for a vote. 

Before a vote could be taken, quorum was lost. A minute later, quorum was regained, and the resolution passed once enough votes had been collected. The resolution stipulated that if the vote passed, the student approval percentage should be published within the following day: it passed by 56.21%. 

Resolution #5: Expired Posters – Failed

By the time this resolution was ready to be presented, the three-and-a-half-hour time limit for the event had been met. Students voted on whether to extend plenary another half hour or to streamline the process and directly vote on this resolution. The student body did not vote to extend plenary so this resolution went to a direct vote, bypassing the presentation of the resolution, Q&A, pro/con debate, and friendly/unfriendly amendments. 

This resolution, although it was not presented, advocated for the removal of expired posters. The vote failed. 

In a matter of minutes, the alcohol policy was swiftly ratified, and plenary concluded. Students’ Council Co-Presidents Rasaaq Shittu ’23 reflected on the event, saying “I’m pretty frustrated, … I think this plenary could’ve gone significantly quicker if student apathy wasn’t so high.” In particular, Shittu noted the amount of time spent waiting for students to vote, especially over Zoom, where electronic voting was not an issue and many students simply did not cast a vote at the appropriate times. “I’m pretty frustrated in terms of students committing to actually just voting,” Shittu explained. “It’s just tough.”

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