Senate Discusses Repercussions and Reporting of Bias Incidents

By Garrett Adams, Staff Writer

A donation to the Emergency Fund, a discussion with Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities Ron Wiafe, and a motion to potentially release club representatives from attending all Senate meetings were all on the agenda at Monday night’s Senate meeting.

President Pat McKenna ’20 began by explaining that Student Senate is allotted a certain amount of money each academic year and they are given the responsibility to adequately and fairly distribute that money to the various clubs across campus. Some years, there is extra money that is not spent, either by clubs not taking full advantage of the budget or the board wanting to hold onto a certain amount.

The funds that go unspent at the end of the year are then sent into a Senate rollover account for such a time that Senate may allot their full amount or need to acquire more money. McKenna reported that there was around $40,000 sitting in this fund. “From my four years involved in senate . . . we’ve never found a way to use that money to help students.”

McKenna then went on to explain the Student Emergency Fund, which started back in 2018 so that students could apply for up to a thousand dollars to help pay for emergency expenses such as an expensive flight home after a death in the family.

The Emergency Fund was discussed as a prelude to an upcoming meeting where Senate will propose an action to donate around $15,000 dollars with a crowdfunded $15,000 to match it through college networks.

McKenna also called for other constructive ways for the Senate to spend the money.

Hassan Williams-Kone ’21 proposed that Senate also fund the Myra T. Herron fund. In 1967, Herron became the first African-American woman to graduate from Gettysburg College. The fund helps underrepresented students fund their academic ventures.

Next, Wiafe addressed the group next to discuss bias incidents and how they are handled across campus. He walked students through the reporting process, which typically involves completing a Community Concern Form. The form allows for the student filling it out to identify the type of incident (i.e. physical, verbal, etc.), and then students can indicate if they want to “report only,” or call for either informal resolution, or formal resolution.

“Report only” enters the information into the college database with no following action, while “informal resolution” involves the victim and the accused in a mediation process or conference should the victim be willing. The formal resolution initiates a formal investigation into the incident by the college; should the accused be found responsible, they will be adjudicated through a formal process.

These punishments and the actions are under critical review by faculty and students, and at the meeting, students raised concerns with some of the positions the college was taking. Some suggested that skits and costumes that mocked or targeted marginalized populations deserved harsher punishments.

The form that was given to those present at the meeting caused some frustration as they pointed out that the first violation of either one of the acts above could result in nothing more than an apology letter.

“Pardon my language, but, it could come out half-assed and they wouldn’t mean any of it.” Senator Ziv Carmi ’23 said.

Intent also became a heated debate among the Senate, and students discussed whether the intent of a particular costume was meant to be harmful to a certain identity.

Others called for more bias prevention, including more specialized programs for First-Year Orientation that go deeper into bias and how to respect other peoples, cultures, and identities.

Some students were worried about upcoming bias during the presidential election and stated that the college should be ready to handle certain types of hate speech across the community.

When asked about the discussion after the meeting, McKenna said, “I was really happy with the level of engagement . . . I think it’s important for the administration to see that there are people here who care about issues like bias incidents.”

The meeting then moved into budget requests.

The Black Student Union, College Republicans, Latin American Student Association, and the Emergency Medical Services Club all came forward for funding and received full amounts.

Parliamentarian Shane Carley ’22 then began to explain a new idea being pushed by the executive board to no longer require club representatives at Senate meetings. “We want to create a culture where people want to come and participate. We want to encourage voices that are passionate,” he said.

Although club representatives would no longer be required attend, they would be welcomed and encouraged to do so.

Senate will meet next Monday, Nov. 26. President Bob Iuliano is slated to attend.

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Author: Garrett Adams

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