Reminiscent of Student Senate meetings, the Student Life Committee spent the majority of its Thursday meeting embroiled in debate.
While some time was spent discussing the charters that were awaiting SLC approval, a large portion of the meeting was spent discussing the process of chartering.
Senior Sarah Fineberg attended to talk about the chartering proposal, written by herself and Sarah Stein-Greenberg to change the chartering process. Invited by Dean of Students Peter Goldsmith, Fineberg was accosted by debate concerning the proposal, rather than questions she had originally come to answer.
The proposal, which had gone to the General Faculty in September for input, has undergone several major changes. The largest of these changes is the addition of an appeals process that would allow for an appeal of the decision made by the Eligibility and Review Board, the group of senators that would be responsible for the process. The appeal would then go to the Student Union Board for a second review. The SUB is made up of faculty and staff, as well as students, unlike senate, which is comprised onlyof students.
The changes made in the proposal, which primarily came from GF input, were large enough that Fineberg was taking the proposal back through the various committees it had passed for re-consideration.
"I'm puzzled by our relationship to this proposal," said James Millette, chair of the African-American studies department and a committee member near the end of the discussion.
Fineberg noted that she would be taking the proposal to Senate on Sunday, but that she hoped to get a formal vote of confidence from either SLC or the General Faculty Council before she went to GF with the proposal.
SLC was also able to pass all but one of the charters that had been waiting for its approval since the beginning of the year. The charters will be up for discussion at the Nov. 23 GF meeting.
Of the charters, only two, The Grape and the Oberlin Grapplers Association came up for discussion. The Grapplers Association's charter was then tabled. Mike Muska, director of athletics and SLC member, questioned the definition of a safe space.
"This brings up the point the subcommittee was grappling with," said Tina Zwegat, assistant director of the Student Union and member of the committee.
Muska and Zwegat were both concerned that there was no definition of safe space within the charter. Muska noted that students may not understand what should be incorporated into according to what a trained professional would consider a safe space. Without the definition specifically incorporated into the charter, OGA might be able to practice in an unsafe environment, putting the College at risk.
The charter's authors will be speaking with Zwegat to add the definition. SLC hopes to vote on the OGA charter, at the November GF meeting after the change has been made.
The Grape charter was also brought forth as a discussion topic but was passed. According to SLC member Junior Jane Glynn, The Grape has acted in a libelous fashion, misquoting and misrepresenting certain people. The Grape, which is a political magazine, could therefore be at risk of being sued for libel, which, in turn, could put the College at risk.
"It's a liability issue," said Glynn.
While the charter was passed, SLC made a note to revisit the topic.
"This is an organization in an educational context," said Goldsmith.
Goldsmith and others seemed interested in making sure that the members of any publication are educated in the issues of libel and journalistic integrity.
"We must commit ourselves to have a broader conversation," he said.
Copyright © 1999, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 128, Number 8, November 5, 1999
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