The New College student Senate meeting on Nov. 8 yielded a few new updates for students, including an announcement about the proposed Cultural Picnic, an update on the Indigenous Land Acknowledgement Statement and possible changes to the New College student Forum.
The first agenda item was the Cultural Picnic update. The Cultural Picnic was an idea originally started on the Forum, with students discussing ethnic food markets and grocery stores near the New College campus. In the past, groups including the People of Color Union (POCU), Black Student Union (BSU), Latinx Club and Hillel proposed the idea under the auspices of the Diversity Committee to bring together people from different cultural backgrounds and highlight their cuisines as a way to socialize and learn from one another.
New College Student Alliance (NCSA) Co-Chair of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Jasmine Doyle spoke in the meeting about this event. “We’ve had three thus far. Well, this is the [planned] third one. It is basically a potluck where everyone from their allocated culture brings a dish that is important to them, maybe tell a story about it,” Doyle explained. “Another thing, if you know any faculty members or staff that might be interested in participating in a cultural picnic, please spread the word.”
This event is open to any student, faculty or staff member who may be interested. The tentative date for the Cultural Picnic is Dec. 2, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The second agenda item was an update from NCSA Senate Chief of Communications Hannah Barker on the Land Acknowledgement Statement that is currently in the works, voted on in the last Senate meeting on Oct. 25.
“Update on the land acknowledgement. This week I met with our lovely co-chairs of the DEI and we started getting the ball rolling a little bit, [learned] a little bit more about the formatting of how a land acknowledgement should be,” Barker said. “I’m going to be doing some more research on the best practices of creating a land acknowledgement. I am working with Professor Jessica Young, one of our, I think, only Indigenous faculty on campus, to help develop this. Then I’m going to bring it back to our DEI co-chairs once it [seems] like it’s ready for the final review before bringing it back to the Senate.”
The third agenda item was the formation of a Forum Overhaul Committee, presented by Forum Moderator and thesis student Spencer Opal-Levine. Opal-Levine’s presentation also addressed a vote in the previous Senate meeting.
“Essentially, you guys voted to form a committee to find out what’s happening with the Forum. Currently, the state it’s in is kind of a mess if anyone has used it. I created a poll [showing] the main issues I personally think currently exist,” Opal-Levine said. “We’re looking for people to build this committee here to evaluate what is wrong with the Forum, and maybe rebuild it into a new Forum or overhaul what we currently have.” Opal-Levine’s survey identified large numbers of incoming emails, number of alumni and visibility of emails as key issues. The form is for anyone who would like to voice concerns or give feedback. Applications to join the Forum Overhaul Committee are included in the form as well. The link to this form can be found here.
The last agenda item was the Special Committee Update from Senate President Fish Sawyer.
“We’ve got an update on the information from the Special Committee that we had last time,” Sawyer stated. “We received an email from administration asking us to cease and desist, in which we are compliant. We have handed over our materials to the Cabinet and the ball is kind of in their court on this. If you have questions related to these materials, you can contact them at the NCSA.”
There was not much information about this cease and desist filed against the Special Committee because the information and material in question are personal documents. Another matter was introduced and voted on after the listed agenda items. Students in the Senate voiced concerns about the police presence at COUP. This led students present at the Senate meeting to talk about the possibility of hiring a police liaison, resulting in a motion. Sawyer asked for a show of hands and the motion passed. Senate members are now looking into hiring one.