February Senate meeting brings campus updates
Students waiting for the Senate meeting to reach quorum. Photo by Andy Trinh

February Senate meeting brings campus updates

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The New College Student Alliance (NCSA) Senate meeting began with a slow trickle, taking almost 30 minutes to reach quorum. With recent changes to the Student List, Forum and other modes of communication, Senate meetings now serve as one of the only ways to publicly announce or discuss issues important to the student body. The items addressed included upcoming events, hammocks on campus and the forum. 

The first item was presented by first-year Angel Methax on behalf of the Accessibility Learning Center (ALC), advertising the group’s Disability Awareness week to be held from Mar. 25 to 29. Events will range from Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, a rehash of the ALC’s Tie Dye event and a “day in the life” event. Methax said they are open to suggestions for events the campus community might like to see on Thursday and Friday.

NCSA Vice President Kyla Baldonado informed students that the Alliance was  still looking for a Chief of Staff, and applications were to close Feb. 15. The Chief of Staff role includes running cabinet meetings and meeting with the NCSA President and Vice President, among other responsibilities. Baldonado said that any student looking to become more involved with student government might be interested in this paid position.

Senate President Fish Sauer discussed the state of hammocks in the Nook, particularly with regard to how many have been left strewn along the ground unattended, as well as the few that have been eating into the bark of the palm trees. First-year Kara-Lise Maloy chimed in to bring up a petition she recently advertised on Instagram and intends to bring to the Student Allocation Committee (SAC) for the funding of newer hammocks. A link to the petition can be found here. Third-year Emily Ash added that in the past, students had created a “hammock club” in order to bring hammock funding proposals to the SAC.

Updates on the current state of the forum and possible plans moving forward were presented by Forum Moderator and thesis student Spencer OpalLevine. Many students have been in the dark on its status. OpalLevine said that the New College administration has been looking to move the forum away from school emails for a while now, and he was looking into temporary solutions students would not be resistant to using. He explained that a custom forum could cost anywhere from about $3,000 to $10,000 depending on what features students want. 

“I believe that the Student List should be up soon, hopefully. I’m not fully sure what’s going on on that end. Basically, my job is to approve messages and I’m completely locked out,” OpalLevine explained. The Student List became unavailable in Dec. 2023.

Screenshot from the now-defunct forum from thesis student Galen Rydzik regarding the change in Student List policy.

NCSA President Grace Keenan provided context regarding the Student List, explaining that it still exists but is not being properly managed. “There were some complaints about too many emails being sent out–I’m not sure if those were official complaints, or if they were documented in any sense. [Administration’s] response was to hand over Student List management to Communications. Communications was inundated with too many requests than it could handle, so they just stopped, is what I could gather.” 

Keenan said there is a plan in place to see what can be worked out with Student Affairs. Currently, she continued, students@ncf.edu is still operating but cannot be used for student-to-student communication, so the priority is on reviving the forum. Second-year and SAC representative Lily Steward stressed that organizations such as the SAC, which are required to share meeting minutes with the student body, are now struggling to abide by those guidelines with no operating forum or Students’ List. Keenan shared that the legislative body of NCSA is experiencing the same issues, and temporary solutions were being explored.

When asked why Google Groups, the current system New College uses to manage certain email lists, wasn’t a viable option, OpalLevine said administration is wary of being accused of negligence, depending on discussions that may happen through student emails on the forum. OpalLevine conveyed a preference for something with tighter privacy for students, considering New College’s current presence in the news and issues that have occurred in the past regarding the visibility of the forum.

“I’m graduating this semester, so you are going to have to find someone else to replace me,” OpalLevine told Senate meeting attendees. “Ideally, this is going to be a team . . . I’ve been manually approving all of this. When it came to the school, it [administration] was like ‘No, we don’t want to do this.’ . . . they have more resources than one student.”  

OpalLevine explained that, inexplicably, he had been entrusted with approving the listserv postings of important emails, such as whether the fire department was arriving or water potability emails. He said he believed such announcements should not be dependent on a single student’s availability. Keenan added if anyone would like to be privy to further discussion, the NCSA Cabinet meeting would address the forum in the Old Mail Room (OMR) on Feb. 15.

Senate Pro Tempore Safari Swanson stepped forward next to state that he would be stepping down from his position due to lack of time. He delivered a haiku in farewell: 

A mouse in the hall

Loud and clumsy he scrambles

Back to his room.

The poem was met with ardent applause. Sauer and Keenan discussed the possibility of appointing a new Pro Tempore. The Senate Pro Tempore position is unpaid, and the office holder is expected to serve as substitute for Senate President, should they be indisposed. 

Second-year Beaux Delaune presented updates on the Center of the Universe Party (COUP), reiterating that Star Crossed Lovers COUP will be happening Mar. 2. The COUP co-host took the opportunity to advertise the vendor sign up sheet for the fundraising Garage Sale on Feb. 25, which will be hosted by second-year Alexandra Denner and thesis student and Catalyst Editor in Chief Gaby Batista. Delaune also mentioned they would be selling COUP merchandise at the Garage Sale, and they then shared the link to the COUP DJ set sign up.

“You have to [sign up to DJ]. This is how COUP runs. We don’t supply the music. Please sign up for the 30-minute sets,” Delaune emphasized. They also solicited help via another link for setting up the Saturday of COUP, for both a morning and afternoon shift. The link to the Garage Sale vendor sign up sheet can be found here, the COUP set-up sign up here and the DJ sign up list  here

Delaune asked students to help clean up and not be bystanders, warning that if COUP was not exceptionally clean, another COUP might never happen. Batista added that COUP is a much older tradition than any students in the room and students should be intent on making sure Graduation COUP can still occur. 

“We’re going to start cleaning up the OMR at 2:30 a.m., [Z-Amphitheater] potentially at 2 a.m. and everything else may be done after 3 a.m., so we’re going to be up until potentially 7 a.m.,” Delaune concluded. “Please don’t make us stay up until 7 a.m. cleaning everything up.” Sauer suggested that signing up for clean-up is a good way for prospective COUP hosts to figure out what sort of planning they would be volunteering for.

In the meeting’s final item, Chair of Student Life and second-year Adom Neizer-Ashun shared the list of winning themes for upcoming Walls: Dad Wall, Disco Wall, Tumblr Wall, Cxntry Wall, Punk Wall, Rainbow Party, Cvnt Wall, “Gay Son, Thot Daughter, Nonbinary Nuisance” Wall, Dino Dive Wall and ABC Wall, with dates to be shared by the hosts. 

Third-year transfer Stephen Warne asked whether Robertson Park or the Chickee Hut would ever be open for booking for a Wall or student event. Senate Chief of Communications and third-year Hannah Barker answered that Robertson Park can only be booked by the New College President’s office and the Chickee Hut falls under academic space jurisdiction. 

Sauer told the Catalyst that tentative dates for the next Senate meetings are March 13, April 10 and May 8.  He ended the Feb. 13 meeting by stating,  “I will try to get the [future] dates up on Novoconnect, so if you need to add to agenda items between now and the next Senate meeting, please submit items through Novoconnect.” 

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