Senate Brief: Senate Day of Service and Big Senate Goals

Photo from Senate Day of Service last year.

Photo from Senate Day of Service last year.

SENATE DAY OF SERVICE

After a protracted conversation that ranged from haunted houses to local disaster relief, Senate decided that their Day of Service will be an auction. All of the senators who are comfortable doing so will auction off a “service.” Most of these are yet to be decided, but some ideas proposed included a baked goods basket or friendly Instagram spamming.

“It could be, I’ll comment on every single Instagram post that you have, and say, ‘Hot stuff’—I mean—‘We’re best friends” Isoke Atiba, Senior Class Co-President, corrected herself after senators erupted in laughter. “We can’t capture the hearts of Sarah Lawrence Students by what we do every day,” Atiba said. She argued that the Day of Service had to be something special.

The proceeds from the day of service will most likely go towards the Food Sharing Space, which is open Wednesdays and Saturdays to address food insecurity.

Since appearing in the Diaspora Coalition’s sit in demands, food insecurity has appeared in dialogues across Sarah Lawrence. Ian Gonzalez, Senior Class Co-President, lobbied for the Day of Service to address the issue beginning early in the conversation. His first pitch was a large, social meal for students cooked by senators. “I don’t know how many health codes that would violate,” Gonzales joked. Paige Crandall, Dean of Student Affairs, told senators that the Food Sharing Space is already planning a food drive, and that senators could team up with the initiative.

Though the conversation eventually moved towards an auction, Crandall and other senators were skeptical about its feasibility and profitability. Maddy McNeila, SSSF Senator, cited the amount of effort she and others had to put in to get the Students for Students Scholarship Fund, or SSSF, auction off the ground. “In theory, this auction is great,” McNeila told the assembly. “But we have an auction already, and it takes months of time and planning.”

McNeila doubted that attendees would bid on the talents and small services senators would offer. “I do see both points of this,” Penny Kapusuzoglu, Senate Chair, commented. “If people don’t bid, we aren’t maximizing the amount of money we donate.”

Other senators had faith in the live auction’s appeal. “I think there’s a difference between seeing a name on a piece of paper,” said Sarah Almeida, referring to the SSSF auction’s silent format, “and seeing your friend on stage. Live is different.” Almeida is the SSSF Representative to the Committee on Student Life, and is the Online Editor for the Phoenix.

Demattio quelled doubts that the auction wouldn’t break even by calling the Senior Class Gift chair of the 2017 Senate. That year’s Class Gift involved an auction similar to the one proposed, in which students auctioned off their talents. For instance, one senior known for her acting and directing acumen offered a “Night of Theater.”  Demattio said the ’17 Senior Class Gift Committee raised around a thousand dollars and only took a week of planning. He also lobbied for seniors to be more involved despite constraints of their final-year deadlines.

“Paige, I will fight you on this,” Demattio quipped.

“I’m ready,” Crandall shot back with a smile.

She took this opportunity to raise concerns that some senators be unsettled participating in a talent-sale auction. “If you do disagree with auctioning off people,” Crandall said, to a visible wave of discomfort from the assembly. “You’re auctioning off people’s services,” she corrected. Senators, however, immediately took an informal poll of who would be comfortable participating, and only a  small number of senators didn’t raise their hands.

Previously, senators wanted to design, install, and decorate sculptures containing ashtrays to combat the masses of cigarettes that accumulate along the campus’ roadside smoking spots. Some among  did cigarette pickup as their Day of Service last year. . However, the last time Mo Gallager attended last week’s Senate meeting, she nixed the idea. “Sculptures and ashtrays are not something we could possibly achieve, especially in a day,” Kapusuzoglu reminded the assembly this week.

Volunteers from Senate may also pick up cigarettes around campus before the auction, as suggested by Gonzales. The “roving teams of senators,” as Margaux Morris put it, will also tell passesrby about the event on the day. The date of this year’s Day of Service hasn’t been set, but Demattio suggested having the auction on a Thursday night during normal Senate hours, 6pm to 8pm.

BIG SENATE GOALS MISSION STATEMENTS

The assembly split into six groups in February to address its six Big Senate Goals for the rest of the semester. This week, each group pitched its mission statement.

Senators Sophie Edwards, Tova Grenne, Ilyssa Daly, Sam-James Demattio, and Rosa Mykyta-Chomsky comprise the Sexual Violence Awareness and Advocacy group. They will provide “institutional support” for survivors of sexual assault, according to their statement.

The Accessibility group consists of senators Lauren Cuevas, Jessie Shiner, and Kelsey Copley. They will opt for “smaller issues” of accessibility instead of tackling the “many accessibility issues that are not solvable in the short term.” Their goals include making sure the Bates elevator opens at Career Services and making sure that the new Barbara Walter Campus Center will be as “accessible as possible.”

Belle Edeoga, Sarah Almeida, Sam-James Demattio, and Kayla Anne Santos are on the Transparency and Student Outreach group, which is responsible for making the processes of Senate more open to the student body. They hope to make the “process of bringing concerns to Senate explicit.”

Together Ilyssa Daly, Murray Hannon, and Jessie Shiner are the Sustainability and Campus Upkeep group. Their mission statement began by invoking junior congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who at a Climate Change Town Hall called fighting climate change the “civil rights movement of our generation.” The group recommended that Senate coordinate with the various existing, college-sponsored sustainability groups on campus like G.R.O.W. and the Warren Green Co-op, among others. The group expressed their support for “continue visibility, communal awareness, and repeated recognition of these groups.”

Priya Maskey, Emma Tynan, Jessie Shiner, and Sam-James Demattio are in the Mental Health group, which pitched “equitable and effective mental health services on campus.” They mentioned advocating more therapists who identify as LGBT+, opening Health and Wellness over the weekend, and expanding the six-sessions-per-semester cap on therapy.

Finally, the Faculty and Staff Training group are Emma Oppenheimer, Emma Tynan, Jesse Shiner, and Quinn Burke. They are “committed to educating the faculty and staff on SLC Senate to keep students,” among other things, safe and empowered. They hope to address the “conscious or unconscious” biases from faculty and staff, and to “eliminate systems of oppression from the college.

COMMITTEE REPORTS

Bylaw committee reported changes to language in certain bylaws. They plan to changesome aspects of the election packets to make roles clearer to future potential senators and Executive teams. Publicity discussed how to be more transparent to the wider Sarah Lawrence community, which may involve livestreaming the senate meetings. That in itself might mean changing the structure and language of Senate.

Curriculum is working on a way to simplify registration in the future.

President Cristle Collins Judd came to speak to the Diversity committee about the implication of former Title IX director Al Green’s departure and to discuss filling the conspicuous absences in the diversity offices around campus.

Danny Trujillo reported that General committee discussed the registration process, curriculum and “getting a small group together to look over the timing” of registering for classes.

Student Work representatives reported conversations on making the donning process smoother for transfer and first-year students.

The Sustainability Senators were excited to announce that they were making progress in their goal to eliminate plastic straws and make utensils in Bates more cost-effective.

The Senior Class Presidents reported they have DM’d Frank Ocean to play at Bacchanalia and are waiting on an answer.

The Sophomore Class president reported that of the sophomores who took a survey on what they want Senate to focus on, 15 out of 47 ranked sexual violence awareness as their main concern.

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.