Faculty Discuss Possibility of Student Referendum on Freedom of Expression Philosophy

Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College

Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College

By Jamie Welch, Editor-in-Chief

Dr. Jennifer Bloomquist, Associate Provost and Chair of the Freedom of Expression Workgroup, said at the faculty meeting Thursday she would not be opposed to holding a referendum of the full student body on the draft institutional philosophy on freedom of expression.

The comment came in response to a question from Dr. Randall Wilson, Professor of Environmental Studies, who called into question whether Student Senate is truly a representative body and asked if it might be a good idea to “cast the net a bit wider in case there is some sort of bias at the Student Senate level.”

When pressed for more information, Wilson clarified he wants to give every student a chance to vote.

“Is that a possibility?” Wilson asked.

Bloomquist responded, “There was some talk in Student Senate because there are student organizations that feel that their senator doesn’t represent them very well. I think that we have the technology…it may be the case that there is no reason to not do it. I’m not against it.”

“Then we can really say that the students are the ones who approved it,” she added.

She then appeared to temper her statement slightly, saying that she would defer to Jeff Foster, Associate Vice President of College Life and member of the Freedom of Expression Workgroup, who is more familiar with how a referendum would work in terms of Student Senate policies.

According to the Student Senate Constitution, by a two-thirds vote, Senate may send any proposal to a full referendum of the student body, which then must approve the referendum by a simple majority for it to take effect.

It was unclear whether Wilson was suggesting Senate send the matter to a referendum or for the college to hold one independently.

Michael Mancuso, Student Senator and Chair of the Student Senate Opinions Committee, who recently said on The Gettysburgian’s podcast “On Target” that he will be “very proud to cast my vote for this [philosophy],” said that he would support holding a referendum of the student body if there is student demand.

“I think if there are calls from the student body for a referendum then it would be a good idea, but I don’t think we should do a referendum for the sake of a referendum,” he said.

Student Senate President Luke Frigon says a referendum isn’t necessary.

“While I like the idea of a referendum, I don’t really see the need for it,” Frigon said. “Not only has the Student Body as a whole gotten several communications regarding the Freedom of Expression Philosophy, but the town hall today was designed to be for student input. We’ve already ‘cast the net’ pretty far. It’s up to students to make their voices heard, and I think both Senate and the Philosophy working group have made every stride possible to accommodate that.”

Editor’s Note: This article was updated at 9:08 p.m. with context on the Student Senate’s constitutional procedures for sending a matter to referendum. (-B. Pontz)

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Author: Jamie Welch

Jamie Welch '18 serves as editor-in-chief of The Gettysburgian, a position he has held since May 2016. Jamie also served as the webmaster and as a staff writer for the features and news sections. He is a computer science major with a business minor. Follow him on Twitter @welchjamesk.

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