Discourse / Letters / Student Senate / February 28, 2008

Letter to the Editor: Response to ‘Lowered Expectations’

I felt compelled to write this after reading the editorial “Lowered Expectations” in the February 14 edition of TKS. In writing this response, I had started to refute point by point the author’s charges against Senate and its leadership, but realized I neither had the time nor the space on a page to do so. As Abraham Lincoln said, “If I were to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how — the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end.” With Lincoln’s words in mind, I will respond to these attacks by laying out what the Senate and I, doing our very best, have done for you this past term and a half.

In the fall the Senate brokered a compromise with the Administration regarding the Sworn Officer Initiative that resulted in one sworn officer instead of two. The Safety and Services Committee has been in contact with Campus Safety Director John Schlaf regarding this change and will continue to periodically assess the safety situation at Knox, post-Sworn Officer Initiative. Senate also passed a resolution asking the college to adopt a Good Samaritan Policy to protect students from disciplinary action for reporting an instance of alcohol poisoning or other substance related issue.

The Safety and Services Committee has been working with Dean Debbie Southern and John Schlaf regarding this issue and will continue to do so. Senate also reformed housing lottery to make it more equitable for next year. This change is being implemented by Craig Southern to take effect for the upcoming year’s housing lottery process.

A resolution asking Facilities Services to provide weekly cleaning services to the Townhouses was passed. The Townhouses have been cleaned on a weekly basis ever since. Senate also passed a resolution establishing a Green Fee to support student-initiated green projects on campus next year. This fee was part of the 2008-2009 comprehensive fee proposal endorsed by Senate and approved by the Board of Trustees in November. The Senate also passed a resolution asking the college to provide Bravo on television. Bravo is currently channel 33 on your television.

This term Senate has passed a resolution that will revive and reform the abandoned theme housing system due to popular demand from the student body. Craig Southern is implementing it for this upcoming year’s housing lottery. The Senate has also endorsed the idea of installing condom machines throughout campus. The Senate voted to fund this project at last Thursday’s Senate meeting. Senate has also facilitated conversations with John Schlaf, Tom Axtell, Roger Taylor, Steve Hall on various topics. The new Dining Services Director Helmut Mayer attended last week’s meeting and had a great discussion with Senators and students.

The Senate has also been working very hard all year on the Wallace Lounge project. A committee of Senate leadership and administration officials has been meeting to discuss and create plans for the renovation of that area. Currently the plan calls for a 24-hour lounge/study lounge/multi-use facility with an adjoining games room and eating facility of some sort. The successful completion of this project remains a top goal for Student Senate leadership.

Along with passing resolutions, the Senate and Senate leadership does much work behind the scenes. Committee Chairs have weekly (if not more) contact with the administrative heads of their respective areas. Senators sit on all faculty committees and various other boards, search committees, and task forces representing student views. Committee chairs and members of the Executive Board constantly receive requests from students to fix this or that minor issue. Many of these issues are much more efficiently dealt with by picking up the phone and talking to the Dean or to the Director of Facilities Services, for example, than through a resolution at Senate.

Your Senate committees are working very hard for you. The Dining Services Committee has been successful in securing countless changes to the menu and food offerings based on request. The Sustainability Committee has been working very closely and successfully with the President’s Sustainability Task Force to make Knox greener. The Technology Committee has been successful in getting new public-access printers placed around campus in various residences. These are just a couple of committees and a couple examples of their progress.

I refuse to believe that these constant attacks against Senate are what a majority of students want. I believe what students want are results. Senate and I are doing our very best to get students the results they desire. I would like to thank the dedicated and hardworking Senate Executive Board for all of the time members have put in and all the criticism they have endured this year in securing those results. I would also like to thank the student body for its continued faith in me. I am honored and humbled by it. Now, enough of this editorial writing; its time to get back to working for you.

Brad Middleton

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