By Betul Aydin
Campus Senate will vote to approve a new membership structure on Thursday as part of its effort to reestablish its presence on Kenyon’s campus.
The proposed body will consist of 13 members and reduces the number of student representatives from 11 to six in hopes of having better representation on the board. This body will also be comprised of two faculty members, two members of the administration and two members of the staff.
Established in the 1960s, Senate serves as a governmental structure that streamlines communication between administration, faculty, staff and students. In collaboration with Student Council, the Senate deals with a wide array of issues, including the smoking policy, the student handbook, the discussion of freedom of academic speech and alcohol-task force recommendations.
For the past several years, Senate has struggled to execute its role on campus effectively. It has lacked student and faculty co-chairs at various points throughout its history, and held meetings irregularly, according to Ben Douglas ’18, the co-chair of Senate. The resolutions the Senate has proposed have sometimes failed to impact campus policy. During the 2016-2017 school year, Senate held elections to fill vacant positions and worked to reform the body.
These troubles have surfaced in part because the Senate constitution is outdated now that new administrative positions are addressing issues Senate was originally meant to deal with. The body’s exact function has become unclear.
Last year’s Senate was composed of 21 members, 11 of whom were students and 11 of whom were members of the administration. These members worked on bylaws to redefine the Senate and update its legislation to increase its effectiveness. Even after taking these steps to become more functional and unified, Senate faced a series of challenges.
“It is just really hard to get 21 people together consistently,” Douglas ’18 said. “It is a lot of students, and a lot of faculty, but no non-senior staff.”
Senate is currently revising its constitution. In order to increase transparency, the bi-weekly Senate meetings will be open for anyone who wants to attend.
“We want it to be really a place where information can be shared and where issues can be discussed in a more cohesive manner,” Douglas said. “We want people to be part of the discussion.”