Students Outraged Over Parkhurst

Student Senate Meeting --- September 3, 2018

Emery Malachowski, Managing Editor

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The Student Senate meeting started at 9pm in the Neff Auditorium on September 3rd. It began with Projects, Policy and SAUR (StudentAdvocates for Universal Respect) committees debriefing the General Assembly on the purposes of their committees.

Projects committee, led by Emily Dowler, is dedicated to achieving small, measurable goals that improve campus life, and they meet regularly on Wednesdays at 9pm. Policy committee, headed by Vidal Glassman, meets to discuss policy improvements and changes within student government and meets on Thursdays at 8pm. SAUR, led by Stephanie Estrada (Pixie) is a social justice initiative that protects and promotes diverse communities and underrepresented groups on campus.

The Senate voted to approve Ambrose Lutwych as Vice President of Student Government. They noted that he will bring new energy to the government because he has never been previously involved, and that his leadership experience stems from his position in Ministry of Games club. This process began with the resignation of Taylor Smallwood.

His approval process is unusual because the previous Vice President, Taylor Smallwood, stepped down while within her term, and therefore the Executive Committee appoints the replacement. As a matter of courtesy Executive Committee extended the opportunity to vote to the Senate through email. The Senate was unable to form a quorum, so Executive Committee allowed for a vote within the meeting after officers were allowed time to question the nominee. Student Government President Harpreet Chamdel explained that she hoped his new perspective would allow student government to shift its focus from being strictly an allocations board or “bank” for clubs, and take on more of a representative role for the student body.

Class boards then explained their current projects. The Senior class is holding open office hours on Tuesdays from 8:30-9:30pm, and are selling various memorabilia to fundraise for Senior week.  The Junior class is currently working on a series of events called Stone Town Sundays, where the campus can participate in activities at the Stone Town Gallery in town. Their office hours are on Tuesdays at 2:30pm. Matthew Damschroder came to the meeting in order to hold an open forum on Parkhurst Dining and students’ opinions on the new plan and dining experience. He  acknowledged that there had been a lot of feedback from students and that he regretted some aspects of the process.

In the meeting students voiced significant discomfort with the financial aspects of the plan. One main concern was how much more expensive the lowest cost plan is currently from what it was last year. The Gold Plan, which was introduced after feedback from students in an email on July 3rd, 2018, costs $2,427.50 for 150 Baker meals per semester and $250 DCB. This is a cost in-between last year’s Plan 2, which was 185 meals per semester with $200 DCB, that cost $2,450 and Plan 3 which was 120 meals per semester and $300 DCB, that cost $1,950. However, compared to last year’s most affordable plan, which was Plan 5 with 20 meals per semester and $100 DCB and only cost $350, students no longer have the option to pick a plan with significantly lower cost and Baker food availability. The General Assembly at the meeting voiced some concerns over this option. While Damschroder cited the much longer hours from 7:15am to 11:00pm as helping to avoid food insecurity on campus, students pushed back by questioning how taking on more loans would help them avoid food insecurity in the long run.

The General Assembly also questioned and compared the commuter plan and the Gold Plan. Some students believed that the plans were comparable and that the residential plan had an unfairly higher price at 170% the cost of residential plan. They believed that through paying for their more expensive plan they were offsetting the cost of the commuter plan. Damschroder said that he did not believe commuters would actually use all the meals that were available to them through the commuter plan, and that the plans supported residential life philosophies. He said that he believed commuters often would not actually consume everything available to them in their meal plan, which would offset that cost. He also said that he believed commuters often were unable to make social connections with the campus in way residential students do, and that enabling them to use Baker would foster a residential mentality within them.