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ASCMC Senate Beat: November 17, 2015

November 17, 2015

ASCMC Senate Beat: November 17, 2015
by Jeremy Anderson

At last night’s ASCMC Senate meeting, CMC students and faculty gathered to discuss how to rebuild the larger CMC community. Executive Vice President Iris Liu ‘16, who chairs the ASCMC Senate, wanted to foster an honest sharing of ideas by inviting attendees to “begin considering and appreciating dissenting views,” while also listening without passing judgement and responding in a respectful manner.

An apology from Administrative Affairs and Appropriations Committee Chair Claire Donnelly ‘17 preceded the discussion. Donnelly expressed regret for being in the controversial Halloween photo, which showed two white women wearing stereotypical Mexican sombreros, ponchos, fake mustaches, and holding maracas. Unlike former Junior Class President Kris Brackmann ‘17, who resigned following the incident, Donnelly stated that she would not resign from her position as a Senate committee chair, and was eager to continue her work on ASCMC to make CMC more inclusive.

The conversation began with students highlighting the benefits of last week’s events. One student appreciated that regardless of opinion, last week’s events sparked discussion about “real issues.” Another student was inspired by the way people were able to come together, urging students to continue talking, expressing, and being respectful of others even when uncomfortable. He viewed talking as a way of healing. Another student encouraged others to have these conversations in smaller groups as well as with those whom they disagree.

On the other hand, some students expressed concerns with the movement. One senior was upset by the villainization of former Dean Mary Spellman, who he thought made significant contributions to CMC, and by the fact that the protest took place on Veteran’s Day. A freshman was concerned with the possible federal investigation, in light of a student pursuing a complaint against CMC with the U.S. Department of Education, and the repercussions it could have. A student shared that many people have thrown accusations without fact, influenced by filtered sources, but pressed students to seek out correct and reliable information.

Some of the leaders of the movement from CMCers of Color who were present at the meeting clarified misconceptions about their messaging and acknowledged mistakes. They stressed that this process began eight months ago when they attempted to go through the proper channels by talking to college administrators and ASCMC. A student member of the PSR committee on campus climate alleged that the idea for a safe space for students of marginalized backgrounds had been shut down when it was first raised. Another student mentioned that Dean of Faculty Peter Uvin had been hesitant about the proposal for a general education requirement regarding “social, historic, and cultural experiences of marginalized communities.” Students from CMCers of Color also clarified that the group as a whole did not call for the resignation of Dean Spellman, nor did they endorse the hunger strikes, although empathizing with those individuals.

The meeting finished with the discussion of an ASCMC Diversity and Inclusion Chair Constitutional Amendment. A member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee Christopher Humphreys ‘18 presented the constitutional amendment and a draft of the application for the new position and answered questions about the position. Senators approved the Diversity and Inclusion Chair Constitutional amendment and the Diversity and Inclusion Chair will be selected in the coming weeks.

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