The Oberlin Review
<< Front page News March 3, 2006

Student Senate Results Arrive
Newly Elected Senators Have Plans

The Spring Student Senate Elections ended last Friday and culminated in the election of four new senators as well as the re-election of two current senators.

After the recent Student Senate Referendum failed to reach quorum for several weeks, the quick completion of Student Senate Elections was a welcome change for the senators.

“At least students are interested in who will make the decisions that will affect them most,” said Senate Communications Coordinator College sophomore Anthony Osei.

The race for six seats on Student Senate produced 18 candidates and 963 votes from the Oberlin student body. College junior Matthew Adler was re-elected with 12.8 percent of the vote. Sophomores Colin Koffel, Kantara Souffrant and Callum Ingram were elected with 9.5 percent, 7.2 percent and 6.5 percent of the vote, respectively. They were followed up by College junior Matthew A. Kaplan, who was re-elected to a third term with 5.9 percent and junior John Weil who received 5.8 percent of the vote.

“More candidates campaigned on real platforms, and had posters talking about real issues, than I can ever remember,” said retiring senator and college senior Marshall Duer-Balkind.

Several new senators identified inertia and lack of student involvement in the senate as two key problems they want to address.

“I was nominated by friends as an act of silent protest against the bureaucracy of the Senate and how it is supposed to represent the student body but marginalizes it further,” said Souffrant.

“I hope to get Senate out of the intense introspection it has been caught in lately,” said Ingram. “The biggest help in moving Senate out of this rut and on into what people seem most concerned about will be getting students involved in lobbying the senate and the administration.”

Weil said he adopted his unorthodox campaign style, which included multiple marathon speeches, “[because] I thought I needed something to rekindle the people’s interest.”

“[Student senators should use] public speaking, going to organizations, hanging out in lounges and accosting students or getting students drunk and forcing them to sign petitions [to involve students],” said Weil. “Some of these are not my personal methods.”

New senators also had specific issues that were of personal concern.

Koffel said, “Oberlin must be a leader in environmental sustainability.”

Koffel also suggested adding theater and art space and improving the college website to attract quality students.

“As Oberlin seeks to attract higher-caliber students, it must do so through real actions — not press releases,” said Koffel.

Kaplan took pride in the past Senate achievements he had taken part in.

“I have been very active working to voice student concerns, opinions and convictions to the appropriate decision-makers and leaders on campus,” said Kaplan. “We have made fine progress.”

In addition to continuing with his past efforts, Kaplan has a new idea.

“I am currently working with various administrative constituents to implement a first-year orientation program,” he said.

Souffrant said, “My premier issue really has to do with the retention of students of color.”

Creating a single central committee to dispense stipends for unpaid internships was among the proposals made by Adler.

“Some students shouldn’t have an advantage over others because of their background,” said Adler.

The new senate held its first meeting last Sunday.


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