Oberlin Community Needs Strong Senate

To the Editors:

Over this past semester Oberlin students have seen major changes that effect the quality and accessibility of our education and the strength and diversity of our student community.
From the elimination of the MRC interns to tuition increases, the dramatic number of student groups not applying for SFC funding, lack of student participation (and awareness) of trustee forums and changes to the work-study program, it is clear that something is wrong with the student body’s ability to have a strong voice in affairs both on and off campus that have major effects on our community. The major questions are: whose job it is to organize the student body to get issues addressed and how they can do a better job of it.
While there are many groups and organizations that have a voice on campus for different groups of students, the only official body that is charged with representing the student body is Student Senate.
This letter is not intended to be an attack on student senate, they are a dedicated group of students that (for the most part) take their jobs very seriously and work hard to be a voice for the students. Rather this letter is an urgent appeal to senate to realize that more needs to be done and to rethink their mission and role on campus so that they can be a better watchdog for the student body.
Student Senate needs to be more then a voice of the students to the administration, Senate should be the locus of student activities on campus. More then represent students, Senate needs to have a vision for what they want the campus to look like and work to organize the different groups on campus and the general student body to achieve that vision and create an atmosphere on campus where students are active participants in college affairs.
This may be a tall order for Student Senate, which already has a lot of things on its plate, however, many student governments and state student associations have brought in outside groups such as USSA (the United States Student Association) or SET (Student Empowerment Training) to help them develop the skills and vision they need to build a stronger student senate that can serve as an effective organizer and watchdog for the administration and state government.
Now more then ever Oberlin College needs a strong Student Senate.

–Winston Vaughan
College junior

April 19
April 26

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