<< Front page Commentary May 14, 2004

Hoffman apologizes for outburst at Senate meeting

To the Editors:

I apologize for angrily yelling at Student Senate on Sunday. It is not my intention to demonize anyone, but the processes of the Student Senate as a whole regarding the question I proposed in the recent referendum were shady, and I’m not talking about Eminem.

After spending three hours in a Student Senate meeting debating with them trying to get my questions passed, they finally went on to the referendum. The student body voted on them, but at this Sunday’s meeting Senate voted not to publish the results of one of my questions because it was “too confusing.” People were confused about the constitution question and about how gender-neutral housing would play out practically.

Also, people had the option to abstain from my question if they thought it was too confusing. My question was the only one that was targeted. I would not even have known that the results were stricken from the record if my friend Curtis Ferguson hadn’t called me from the meeting. The Student Senate did not want me to come to the meeting, a meeting which is supposed to be open to all the student body. When I arrived, they all laughed at me. I was able to get in a few words of common sense about keeping my question, but it mattered not. They voted to move on because there was too much on the agenda.

For all those who found the question confusing, I will attempt to clarify. Oberlin College student health insurance pays up to $300 for the cost of an abortion, but you only have the option of taking the whole plan as is or rejecting it totally. This “conscience clause” already exists at Harvard University.

The following is from an
article on Harvard’s website: “Few Harvard students are aware that
Harvard’s insurance program, which every student pays for through the Student Health Services fee, subsidizes abortions.

“Even fewer, perhaps, are aware of the ‘elective abortion refund’ which students who ‘have strong moral objections to sharing the cost of elective abortions’ may receive from the Student Insurance Office.” The results are the following: 600 voted in favor of having such a policy; 516 voted not in favor, 425 voted to abstain.

I admit that I do not know all the implications of trying to establish this policy at Oberlin. It might require getting a new insurance company, but shouldn’t Oberlin students have the choice? As the name would imply, the pro-choice movement has been built on the concept of choice.

If a student does not favor providing money for abortions because they believe unlike other health services it is destroying life rather than saving it, shouldn’t they have the “choice” of having money go towards pre/post-natal care instead? I talked to the co-chairs of SURF and they as a group are not “officially upset” that the question was on there.
Oh, and in case Student Senate conveniently forgets to give the results of the other question, they are the following:

Abortions never acceptable — 28, abortions acceptable for life of the mother — 39, abortions acceptable for life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest — 159, abortions acceptable for any reason in the first trimester — 499, abortions acceptable for any reason to the second trimester — 342, abortions acceptable for any reason until the moment of birth — 406.

This is to the 226 students who voted one of the first three options: where are y’all? How come I do not see you at OPLUS meetings?

–Rick Hoffman
College junior


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