Senate Asks Kaplan and Weil to Resign
Student Senate voted at Sunday’s plenary session to remove senators and College seniors Matthew Kaplan and John Weil from their current seats.
Kaplan received an 8-1-1 vote in favor of removal, while Weil received an 8-2-0 vote. The vote was done by secret ballot. After deciding on their removal, Senate voted to give Kaplan and Weil the chance to resign, thereby maintaining their records, rather than being officially expelled. Kaplan has since tendered his resignation; as of Wednesday, Senate had not been able to reach Weil for official notice.
The motion for removal was brought up in adherence to Senate by-laws that require Senate to vote whether or not to remove senators that have missed the equivalent of three or more unexcused meetings.
This vote follows a November decision to censure Kaplan and Weil for the number of meetings they had missed at that point. According to student senator and sophomore Ben Klebanoff, Kaplan and Weil continued to be unable to attend meetings after their censure. They accumulated enough “demerit” points that a proposal for their removal had to be brought to Senate.
According to Associate Dean of Community Life and Senate Advisor Shozo Kawaguchi, these by-laws are not new, but the Senate’s commitment to enforcing them is.
“Since last spring, there has been more of an effort being made by Senate to [enforce] accountability,” said Kawaguchi. “This is the first time they’re really making it work.” He added that there may be more discussion about attendance in response to Senate’s recent commitment.
Senate Liaison and College senior Matthew Adler said of Senate’s focus on accountability this semester, “We’re trying to create some legitimacy in [keeping senators from] missing meetings for no reason.” He added that senators should not miss meetings — not even for more legitimate reasons — because, he said, attendance is a crucial part of being a senator.
“Both Kaplan and Weil are good people, and I admire them both,” said Klebanoff, who emphasized that he was speaking for himself and not the entire Senate. “[But] in my mind Senate has a responsibility to serve the student body, and in order to accomplish this senators must be present at Senate meetings. This is why I believe this action occurred.”
Kaplan explained to the Review that many other responsibilities kept him from attending Senate meetings:
“Prior to the [Senate] meeting, I had informed the Senate that my continued duties as the student representative on the Director of Career Services Search Committee would result in me having to miss the meeting,” he said, adding that the night of the meeting in which he was voted out, he was at dinner with the finalist for the Career Services position.
Kaplan added that he has been involved in many other activities this semester that have required his time: organizing community service initiatives and student activities, working as the Senate representative on the Admissions Committee, and applying for grad school.
In response to Senate’s vote, Kaplan said, “I wish the Student Senate would focus more of their energy and resources towards issues that are most pressing to our community…and for working to unite students, faculty and staff, and less time trying to tear good, honest and proven student leaders down.”
John Weil was not available to comment.
“Matthew Kaplan has served as an excellent member of the Student Senate as far as I am aware up until this year,” said Klebanoff. “He has done, and I am sure will continue to do, great things for Oberlin College.”
Because this Sunday was the last plenary session of the semester, new senators will not be elected to immediately fill Kaplan and Weil’s positions. The positions will be refilled in February’s regular election.