Senate Brief: Senate Day of Service and Big Senate Goals

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SENATE DAY OF SERVICE:

Senate voted to create and install sculptures that double as ashtrays around campus as their yearly Day of Service this year. It’s unclear if Student Life will approve the installations.

The details are still to be determined, but Senate’s rough outline for their Day of Service is installing beautifying standing ashtrays around campus with help from the student body. Senate would split up into several groups, each with two senators with visual arts backgrounds and one senator from the Executive Committee, to oversee and participate in each project.

The idea came from a previous discussion about the possibility of having ashtrays installed at the walkway outside the library and other smoking hotspots around campus. Last year, Senate’s Day of Service saw senators helping to pick up cigarette butts at these hotspots.

Student Life would have to approve any permanent installation on campus, Paige Crandall, Dean of Student Affairs, told senators. Crandall said that Student Life would be especially hesitant to approve standing ashtrays in any form.

Crandall told senators that the Taskforce on Smoking, a group of student smokers and faculty who either smoked or used to smoke, met while working out Smoke Free SLC policy in 2014 and 2015, and recommended to not have standing ashtrays on campus. The Taskforce’s main concern, according to Crandall, was that the ashtrays would encourage smoking.

Senators were unconvinced by that argument. “That’s the same argument as saying birth control encourages sex,” Dehlia Mitchell-Gray, Admissions Committee, said. In a more extreme example, Aliza Yousey, Treasurer, likened it to arguing that clean needle exchanges encourage heroin use. “We have to get away from that argument that [ashtrays] cause smoking,” Yousey said.

Moreover, senators thought that the student body whose representatives participated in the Smoke Free SLC group had different needs to the current student body. “We’re a different student body now. We have different needs than the student body four years ago,” Rosa Mykyta-Chomsky, Student Athletic Advisory Committee, said. “We’re changing as a school. Just because that’s what they wanted, that doesn’t mean that’s what right for us.”

Senators asked Crandall to clarify that the language in Smoke Free SLC isn’t required by state or federal law. “Legally, legislation-wise, you can’t smoke in residence halls. Everything else you see, that is [decided by the administration of] Sarah Lawrence,” Crandall said.

“Part of the reason that ashtrays didn’t work back then is that people used to smoke everywhere,” Mykyta-Chomsky said. Ashtrays would be more useful now that Smoke Free SLC concentrated smoking to certain spots on campus, senators reasoned. Morris agreed: “I think [ashtrays] would be very effective with the patterns of smoking on campus as they stand.”

Since opting not to install permanent ashtrays, Sarah Lawrence has taken other initiatives to curb cigarette litter, including giving student smokers personal ash tins. The college encouraged students to ash their cigarettes into the tins, then empty the tins when they had a chance. Despite the college’s high hopes the tins were not as ubiquitous as intended.

“Raise your hand if you still use tins,” Yousey asked senators. Three raised their hands, but only one actively used the tin for their everyday smoking.

Senate will work out the details of their Day of Service in next week’s meeting.

BIG SENATE GOALS:

This semester, Student Senate’s “Big Goals” are:

  • Sexual violence awareness and advocacy

  • Accessibility

  • Transparency and student outreach

  • Sustainability and campus upkeep

  • Mental health

  • Faculty training

This first session of the year focused on “brainstorming how to better tackle these issues this semester,” as last semester “big senate goals got away from us a little bit,” said Penny Kapusuzoğlu, Senate Chair.

Senators suggested some preliminary ideas such as posting the senate agenda on social media before meetings, posting senator bios in Bates, and tasking the incoming sustainability senator with coordinating the various sustainability groups on campus.


COMMITTEE REPORTS:

Admissions and Enrollment discussed whether visiting students should be allowed to sit in on classes, and how to better support visiting students and this families. Diversity spoke with President Judd about the changes to the Office of Diversity, which lost its two full-time staff members two weeks ago and is currently only staffed by students. The committee didn’t give any details of the conversation. Student Life discussed students’ feelings of isolation on campus, and Judd’s charge to “combat that sort of isolation in the future”. Student Activities mentioned their next big event will be their Women in Athletics Day, which will take place on February 5 in the Campbell Sports Center. The Sophomore and First-Year Class Presidents spoke with Anne Marie Damiani from Career Services about a potential internship panel open to all students.

Jerry O’Mahony ‘19

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.