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Spring 2019 Plenary Preview

On Sunday, February 17, students will gather to discuss three resolutions for Spring Plenary. The only resolution not presented by Students’ Council pertains to the environmental footprint of Haverford College. It urges both the administration and student body to commit to creating a more sustainable Haverford.

“I think the gist of the resolution is there are a lot of decisions that need to be made over the next decade where we have the chance to make more or less environmental friendly choices. This resolution is expressing the student body’s support for the thinking about the carbon and environmental impact in the making of those decisions,” said Ceci Silberstein ‘19, one of the resolution writers.  

“In my view, there are three principal parts. First, the student body supports moving the date for [Haverford College’s] carbon neutrality from 2060 where it it currently is to 2035. The second part is to make sure that students are engaged in moving towards carbon neutrality [and are willing] to contribute to deep complicated conversations surrounding that goal. The third part is that the Committee for Environmental Responsibility will audit the student council budget for things that contribute  to carbon pollution. This is both to deepen the culture of environmental responsibility among the students but also to put more pressure on faculty, administration, and the board of managers to think about the ways they can be acting in a similar way,” said Joseph Stein ‘21. Silberstein and Stein, along with Ian Davis ‘22, Johanna Batterton ‘21, and Vaidehi Agarwalla ‘19 will be presenting the resolution this Sunday.

Students’ Council will be presenting two resolutions as well, one dealing with the creation of a Students’ Council Librarian position, and the other with election reform.

“One of the resolutions is about restructuring council. More specifically, we are adding the position of a Student Council Librarian that functions similar to Honor Council’s Librarian. They will be tasked with thinking about institution memory, looking back at the history of Student’s Council, looking back at past plenaries, and making sure the site and the constitution are up to date,” said Student Council Co-President Maurice Rippel ‘19.

For the busy members of Student Council, often these tasks fall to the wayside, making the creation of a librarian position imperative. The Student Council Librarian will be chosen through the appointments process—not through an election—and will serve three semesters.

The second resolution from Students’ Council proposes changes to student elections. It will adjust dates, the length of the nominations process, and percentages for quorum in hopes of standardizing student elections. The resolution also sets aside $600 dollars to cover campaigning costs for Student Council and JSAAPP, which will be distributed equally among candidates.

“The idea behind the resolution was basically just going off on this year and our issues with elections—last semester specifically. It is trying to begin to combat student apathy surrounding voting and trying to make it less confusing, easier to vote, and a more engaging process,” said Student Council Co-Secretary Mariana Ramirez ‘20.

Illustration by Sarah Jesup
Disclaimer: The details of election restructuring are to be discussed/clarified during Plenary. This timeline does not necessarily reflect the complete detail of the resolution.

While the different resolution writers hope for their resolutions to pass, they also hope that the community will engage in fruitful discussions about them at Plenary.

While Rippel is confident the Student Council resolutions will pass, he hopes to see some debate: “I would hope that there are conversations surrounding these resolutions, that it isn’t just Student Council talking at the campus at large. I’m hoping there is some push back but I don’t foresee people being really against [our resolutions].”

In hopes of stimulating dialogue, Student Council has been having conversations about what a successful plenary looks like.

“There are conversations in the works for changing the physical space and having conversations about how to make plenary more engaging, more accessible. Really just having conversations about what an engaged student at plenary looks like: is that someone who is doing their homework? Is that someone who is listening to music?” said Co-Secretary Katie Leiferman ‘20.

On Friday, Student Council will release a statement to the community encouraging students to be respectful of the space—discouraging the usage of headphones for example—and take the opportunity to engage in campus conversation.

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