By Sophie Lange, Staff Writer
The Student Senate meeting on Monday focused on the events that occurred this past weekend, and many other student concerns were raised. Senate also discussed Gettysburg College President Bob Iuliano’s visit to the upcoming meeting on April 24.
Student Concerns about the Incidents over the Weekend
President Miranda Zamora ’23 opened the meeting by acknowledging concerns about the student arrest on Saturday and the suspicious person on campus on Sunday. Director of the Office of Student Activities and Greek Life (OSAGL) and Senate Advisor Jon Allen was in attendance to field questions.
Students inquired about whether the student arrest was disputed by the College. Allen explained that the College asked the mayor to respond but had not necessarily disputed the arrest. In response to questions about whether a situation like this had occurred before, Allen said that as long as he has worked for the College, the school has never reached out to the mayor for a comment.
“I think what we have done is not a legal action but more of a request as an entity within the community,” Allen said.
Allen was looking into whether the student was arrested by the Gettysburg Police Department (GPD) on public or private property, though he said he did not believe it was on campus property.
Several students raised concerns about GPD as an organization and GPD Officer Kevin McDonald. Allen explained that because the College does not have jurisdiction over GPD, they cannot control its behavior.
Senator Jack Murphy ’24 was the first to express discontent with Officer McDonald during the meeting, claiming that the number of arrests made by that officer specifically has caused Adams County to have the fourth-highest number of arrests in the state of Pennsylvania. However, this statistic is false, and Adams County actually has the fourth-lowest number of per-capita arrests in the state.
Senator Anna Benson ’23 noted that Officer McDonald’s conduct, particularly toward female-identifying students, has made people feel uncomfortable and unsafe in multiple situations.
Benson said she has “seen firsthand some of this behavior…When it comes to students feeling uncomfortable [with how] someone who is part of the Gettysburg Police Department [interacts] with them and [makes] them feel, then that does become a student issue.”
Benson asked if this is something that the school would be able to take action toward if it were to be brought to their attention. Allen explained that they typically direct concerns to Executive Director of Campus Safety Alex Wiltz because he is the most direct line to Gettysburg Chief of Police Robert W. Glenny Jr.
Wiltz also educates students on how to file a formal report on an officer and gives Glenny feedback from students, whose identities remain anonymous.
Regarding a man attempting to enter Athena House and Stine Hall on Saturday, students asked about why it took so long for Campus Safety to notify the campus community via email and why they did not use the emergency notification system. Allen told them it was because they did not know the perpetrator was an ongoing threat.
Students asked about whether there was an increased police presence on campus after the first incident, to which Allen replied that GPD had left the scene after watching recorded footage of the perpetrator leaving campus.
Students also wanted answers about rumors that had been spread during the incident. These rumors included a woman hiding in the bushes outside Huber attempting to harm students, the perpetrator attempting to fight his way into Athena House, and the suspicion that this was a sex trafficking scheme. Additionally, Murphy asked about the rumor of the perpetrator acting as an Uber Eats driver.
Dismissing the rumors, Allen said that Campus Safety had not substantiated any of these claims and that people were given bad information “without malicious intentions.”
In response, students called for more transparency and asked that people be made aware of current situations and rumors through official channels to counter the mass panic that occurred. They also asked who determines what is considered a threat. Allen explained that Campus Safety’s risk assessment team makes these decisions.
Several students asked why this situation did not warrant a campus-wide lockdown, citing an incident in 2019 where a felon was on campus. Allen explained that in the 2019 situation, the felon was brandishing a weapon, so a lockdown was warranted. The students inquired about how Campus Safety knew with certainty that the perpetrator was not in possession of a concealed weapon. Allen said that whether he possessed a weapon was unknown, so a lockdown was not warranted.
Finally, students asked if the red pickup truck harassing students was connected to this incident. Allen said that, to his knowledge, it was not. He encouraged students to try to get the license plate number of the vehicle.
Treasurer Hannah Repole ’24 gave the budget update. Currently, there are $6,079.30 remaining in the budget and an additional $18,699.53 in the rollover fund. Repole said that the majority of the remaining money should go back into the rollover fund at the end of the semester, and this amount is higher than previous years.
Inclusion Officer Allie Acero ’23 held a moment of silence in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The Senate Opinions Committee informed members that they would be meeting with the Athletics Department about the cheerleading team.
The College alerted the Senate that, due to an increase in offered financial aid, they are unable to raise student workers’ wages at this time unless they make department cuts. Students made several suggestions including forming a student workers’ union, cutting staffing in Penn Hall and increasing transparency.
Members of the Senate then thought of topics to bring to Iuliano’s attention when he visits the next Senate meeting. Topics included but were not limited to: student wages, the health center, transparency, policing, rights for the cheer team, preferred names and pronouns being used, where tuition dollars are going, housing quality, increasing library hours, the quality of servo food, and internet issues.
Zamora emphasized that Iuliano wants the meeting to be a discussion, and she reminded Senate about the importance of respect. She also stated that disrespectful behavior will be stopped immediately. Some senators asked that a cap be placed on the number of commenters per issue to allow them to get through as many topics as possible.
Senator EJ Gill ’23 asked where the line between tough and disrespectful was.
Zamora replied that “there is a line between tough and… disrespectful. Keep in mind the language; no one should be cursing. Please do not curse at the president of this college. I don’t want people insulting administrators…, saying that they’re incapable… That is just rude… Even though sometimes it doesn’t seem like it, they are doing the best that they can.”
Gill responded by saying that “some of them are incapable.”
Zamora asked him to refrain from speaking in that manner.
Gill replied by saying, “Well, sometimes, the truth hurts… You might be best friends with [Iuliano], but we’re not.”
Again, Zamora asked him to be respectful, expressing that administrators “are people, too, [and] they do work for the school. I am simply asking [Senate] to be respectful… He is taking time out of his day to be here… I would just ask that you please keep your tone in mind, please keep your choice of words in mind, please keep your language in mind. Calling people incapable… is rude. That is not something that we want to do [because] that keeps administration from working with us, whether you think it’s the truth or not.”
The International Club requested $1000 to rent inflatables for Holi, which is an event they have held in previous years. Their full request was granted.
The Senate tabled three pieces of policy relating to the Budget Management Committee (BMC). The first policy would change clubs’ base budgets to $1,600 per year instead of $800 per semester. The second would codify the way Repole ran BMC previously. The third would create separate budget accounts for anchor events, base budgets and other events.
Previously, these policies were written into a single policy, but since being tabled at the April 10 Senate meeting, they were split into three policies.
Senate will meet again on April 24.