Public forum held to discuss charter review policy
Campus Council (CC) held a public forum further discussing the charter review policy on Feb. 16. Discussion was centered on the conflicting opinions regarding the extension of the charter review policy.
Heather Smith ’17, gender/sexual diversity representative of CC, expressed fear that continuing to extend finalization of the CC’s charter review policy would lead to a repeat performance of the alcohol policy, which was repeatedly delayed last school year.
“It’ll be pushed and pushed and pushed, and we can’t afford to do that. I think that we’ve all worked on this … representatives of the campus,” she said. “And I think it’s a pretty straightforward policy.”
Jordan Griffith ’18, at-large representative of CC, echoed Smith’s sentiments. “This is a very timebound sort of activity here. We need to be expedient in our processes. I don’t want to open a can of worms by allowing every single student to scrutinize this,” he said.
Griffith also reflected upon the responsibility of CC representatives duly elected to make decisions and use expertise to create policy. He also emphasized that the edits being made to the charter review policy were not to create an utterly new concept, but rather, simply to narrow a broad policy that already exists in the Scot’s Key.
However, Theresa Spadola ’17, vice chair/at-large representative of CC, expressed the desire for careful revision of the policy. “We’re looking at this as a standing policy as we continue for years to come,” she said. “So we can’t base it on one instance … being a little more clear on what the goal of this document and the only goal of this document is, would be more helpful in future councils.”
Spadola also admitted that the current process of reviewing the policy was not done efficiently. “We’ve decided to review [the Omega’s] charter and [now] we’re writing the policy. I don’t think that is the best thing we could’ve done,” she said.
Bryan Robb ’18, selective organization representative of CC, was concerned that speeding up the policy review would not give Omegas enough time. “I just have the fear of, say, we stick to the timeline given and we send [the policy] out Wednesday. We’re voted on Wednesday through an email vote, which perhaps if we have real comments to make it’s probably not the best answer,” he said. “I have a fear of sending notification to Omega in anything less than three days.”
Faculty are now engaged in the process of charter review, as evidenced through their letter addressed to President Sarah Bolton, Dean of Students Scott Brown and CC requesting that the charter for the Omega fraternity be permanently revoked.
“This is becoming a bigger problem,” said Smith, in regard to the involvement of faculty. “If we keep putting it off, there’s going to be more problems than if we do it just in one session.”
According to Jack Johanning, chair of CC/service and civil engagement representative, releasing the policy and inviting student opinion was not likely to result in many revisions. “Considering how the most highly involved people in the entire campus are sitting in this room and none of them have comments on this, I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of substantive revisions to this,” he said.
Smith highlighted the importance of transparency with the student community, and argued that extension of the policy conflicted with this goal. “When we held our public forum, one of the main issues that students came up with was how there isn’t expediency, there isn’t due process, it takes forever to get things done,” she said. “We’re proving that this is still a problem when we want to fix that very problem ourselves; we’re being hypocrites.”
The extent for student demand of transparency was also discussed. “It’s not like students necessarily said they want to be involved in the creation of the policy, they just wanted to know what that policy was. And we’ve talked about it, we’ve explained it to the students […] the fact that we’ve published in the Voice that we’re creating these policies, the student body knows that it’s happening,” she said.
However, Robb argued that student readership of the Voice prevented the school newspaper from being an effective channel of communication. “I would say the Voice does reach the majority of students on campus but it simply doesn’t reach everybody,” he said. “I did not start reading it, personally, until halfway through my sophomore year.”
Robb suggested reporting upon the charter review policy through the school email instead. However, Smith questioned the effectiveness of the school email. “What if not everyone checks their email, what if they don’t come to the pubic forum […] do we go to each student individually?” she asked. Robb responded that regardless of whether students delete their emails, emails were looked at more and facilitated transparency with students rather than “a Voice article that people don’t read.”
Smith claimed that CC was already being transparent with the student body. However, CC was not expediting the process. “We’re not being quick about it,” she said. “We’re focusing so much on the fairness of one student organization that we’re not thinking about the fairness of the rest of the population on this campus.”