Section: archive

Student Council Constitution Updated After Dormant Decade

By Grace Hitzeman

On Sunday Jan. 20, while President Obama was being sworn in for a second term, the members of Student Council were handling the affairs of Kenyon student government. This particular meeting had an important purpose to revise the Student Council Bylaws, which hadnt been updated in a decade. The changes made that afternoon and those still in the works will reflect the evolution of Student Council over the last ten years and more accurately express the duties of its various subcommittees. We enacted nothing extremely controversial or influential. We just made it that the Student Council Constitution and Bylaws are better organized, said Senior Class Representative Jennifer Vihon 13.

One significant change is the removal of the Student Life Committee, Student Lectureships and Social Board from the Bylaws, indicating their independence from Student Council. The future of Student Lectureships was discussed in detail after a suggestion that it might not last much longer due to lack of student interest. In the case that Student Lectureships lacks the representation to sustain itself, its responsibilities could perhaps be transferred to the corresponding Faculty Lectureships group.

Student Council may address the Student Lectureships committee again at a later date. The balance of power within student government was also a subject of revision, as the old constitution implied that Student Council is considerably less important than Senate. The revised constitution levels the playing field by equalizing the two groups.

Because of the removal of Student Lectureships from Council, a vacant voting seat became available. The topic became a source of much deliberation when Sam Baker 13, past Delta Kappa Epsilon President and co-chair of the Business and Finance Committee (BFC), seized the opportunity to propose that the extra vote be given to the Greek members of Student Council. According to Baker, the Greek community, being a third of campus, and occasionally having a unique view on issues, would be valuable as a voting member on Student Council, though he recognized that other non-Greek groups were also worthy of a voting seat. Some Student Council members opposed the idea, saying that a Greek vote would over-represent Kenyons Greek population, especially since a Greek Council already exists to delegate to them. A Greek vote, however, would also make the Student Council quorum the required number of people present to conduct a vote, currently eight people out of 18 easier to meet. Student Council considered lowering quorum so there would no longer be an extra voting seat to fill, but it ultimately decided to maintain the required minimum of eight attendees. An additional reason not to add a Greek vote was that a Greek member would also have to be added to Campus Senate in order to sustain equality between the groups.

Several alternatives were suggested by both members and student attendees including voting by email, giving a vote to any group that represents 25 percent of the student body, and adding an independent voting member to Council following Senates example in addition to a Greek voting member. Members of Student Council felt, however, that this last proposal would lead to othering and divide students into Greek and non-Greek groups. Furthermore, all of the other seats in Student Council are meant to represent non-Greek interests, even if the person who holds them is also a member of a Greek organization. The Greek Life Representative to Student Council did not attend the meeting on Sunday.

Other minor changes were made in the Bylaw clean up. These included: removing the Student Life Committees ability to review dining service options, correctly stating the names of the Housing and Dining Committee and the Buildings and Grounds Committee, and removing the section stating that the Academic Affairs Committee would sustain student advisory boards. The BFC section on restricted assets and investments and the section on Campus Safety will be reviewed at a later date in conjunction with the Student Council President, both BFC co-chairs, Dean of Students Hank Toutain and Director of Student Activities and Greek Life Christina Mastrangelo. The non-existent BFC Special Projects Committee was struck from the Bylaws, and it was decided that proposed amendments to the Bylaws will now require unanimous support from the body up from two-thirds support.

Student Council President Faith McDuffie 13 has long considered these to be necessary changes, and hopes they will help students who want to become involved in Student Council next year have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

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