Archives

Letter to the Editor: Making an Educated Decision for Secretary of Finance

By Kelly Ohlrich

Due to the upcoming run-off election, I believe the student body needs to be better informed about the positions they are voting for. As current Secretary of Finance for Student Commission, I feel that I can accurately tell you who is needed for this very demanding full-time job.

Being the Secretary of Finance requires a great deal of energy, patience, and humility. This person is not only in charge of managing over $112,000 of your money, but also constantly works with student organizations to make sure their events can run smoothly. From registration to reimbursement, the Secretary of Finance is your advocate for accessing Student Activities Fee money. Just as this position is extremely important, so is your decision in this Thursday’s election.

To start, this position requires constant and instant replies to emails – always. You can never be late, forget, or skip a meeting, and exceptional organization is needed to balance things smoothly. You must have excellent time management skills, as there is little time to study because you will inevitably put your job and fellow students first. This is not a resume booster. It requires constant dedication and persistence, and a real and deep desire to help your fellow students. Students need a Secretary of Finance who is so proactive that they have already made it a priority and started the job as a commissioner. They must already know what they are doing and have a plan in place for next year. They have even already called the bank personally to finally figure out how to get student organizations debit cards.

I have certainly not been perfect in this position. However, after four quarters, I know what it takes to do this job well and believe that I have done the best I can. This is your money on the line: which candidate will you trust with this responsibility? Take a look at the one who has really been campaigning and reaching out to students – the choice should be clear.

Kelly Olrich ’14 is the Secretary of Finance for the Student Commission.

State of the Campus

This is the quarter of DOGL and all of the other things you guys like so much!

By Darrin Camilleri

Fellow Students,

Welcome back to campus for our final quarter of the year. It was a very long, cold, and snowy winter, but this spring looks to be full of promise. I know that I’m already looking forward to DoGL. Are you?

At the end of last term, we had several changes to the Commission. Three of our seniors stepped down from their yearlong positions to pursue different passions during their final quarter at K: Secretary of Student Affairs Tendai Mudyiwa, Secretary of Communications Kari Paine, and Secretary of Records Colin Lennox. Their service on the Commission has been distinguished by many victories, projects, and initiatives—truly commendable and amazing work that has made us stronger as a student government. I want to extend my thanks for all that they have done for us and for K. Their leadership will truly be missed.
At a special session at the end of tenth week, I appointed—and the Commission unanimously confirmed—their replacements. Now joining the executive board are Secretary of Student Affairs Rian Brown and Secretary of Communications Graham Wojtas. Additionally, Commissioner Wyatt Smith will now serve as Secretary of Records. I am excited to see how their energy and passion for StuComm will transfer over to their new roles.
This past quarter, we have accomplished even more, including: Awarding the Innovation Fund to a new and more representative art project for the cafeteria, taking a comprehensive survey of the campus, fighting for a Safe Ride program, supporting an idea for a new Multicultural Center, and asking for a student member on the Board of Trustees.
We have been doing our best to be advocates for the student body on these and many other issues, but we need your support if we are going to find solutions to these long-term problems. If you are passionate about any of the issues that I mentioned, please find me on campus, send me an email, or connect with me on social media. I want to hear your thoughts on how we can make K a better place for everyone.

This year, it has been an honor and privilege to serve as your Student Commission President, especially because of the many changes that we were able to implement thus far. During my time on campus, I have never seen as much interest in StuComm as I do now, and I credit that to the many new students who have been engaged with our work, particularly students of color.
I recognize that we still have a lot of work to do to make our campus more inclusive, but I firmly believe that Student Commission is pushing the College in the right direction. Please join us in this fight. Our nest is stronger when all Hornets are united and buzzing as one.

Lux Esto,
Darrin

Spring Election Results

By Allison Tinsey

Last week the student body of Kalamazoo College voted-in 12 new members of Student Commission. 515 ballots were cast in the election with approximately 35 percent of the students voting. The Commission will have more elections coming up this quarter including their ’14 – ‘15 Executive Board elections and Fall 2014 elections. This election yielded a small number of incumbents and welcomed many students new to the Commission. Results are as follows:

Mele Makalo- Junior Class Commissioner

Skylar Young- Junior Class Commissioner

Samantha Foran- Junior Class Commissioner

Justin Danzy- Sophomore Class Commissioner

Cassandra Solis- Sophomore Class Commissioner

Maddie Hume- Sophomore Class Commissioner.

Marly Garrido- Commissioner at Large

Suma Alzouhayli- Commissioner at Large

Jasmine Kyon- Commissioner at Large

Rachel Ellis- Commissioner at Large

Megan Rochlitz- Commissioner at Large

Karl Erikson- Commissioner at Large

When Did Student Safety Become Subjective?

By Zac Clark

Last week Student Commission voted to award a student group $5000 to create a piece of Kalamazoo College history.

Preceding that vote, a student commissioner who I choose to remain anonymous had this to say regarding about or of another student-created plan for campus improvement:
“The Safe Ride program, and the associated Transportation Innovation plan, should not be funded or addressed because where I am from, I am not told to lock my doors at night. These programs and ideas are based off a skewed perception of black men. We are told to ’stay safe at night’ and ’lock our doors’ because of this perspective. These programs are fundamentally rooted in racism.”
The Transportation Innovation plan was the last to be voted on next to Kolors of K (the painting—the piece of history). It had been debated on for hours, but no commissioner spoke in objection or contention after this comment. Most were silent. Others nodded. Twenty, almost unanimous, votes gave the fund to Kolors of K for their proposed painting afterwards.
Students being given the opportunity to create their permanent image on campus is an amazing feat. But a student commissioner, a student in a position of power, utilized an accusation of racism to achieve this goal.

Peers, partners, and friends of mine living on and near campus have been robbed, mugged, beaten, stabbed, sexually-assaulted, and raped, in their transits to-and-from school. These terrible crimes were committed by people of different races, in an environment with high-crime.

I don’t believe that achieving representation through the belittlement of those victims is a part of that image we want to accept. The fundamental right to be safe should not change.

During the following week’s meeting, after StuComm’s complacency was brought up by Student Commission Fellow Rasheed Hammouda, Commissioner Rian Brown insisted this is a problem to be brought up myself to the commissioner who made the initial comments; personally— not a matter for the Commission. Commissioner Ben Baker, Safe Ride’s brain-trust, had said at the time of the vote his discontent wasn’t appropriate to bring up.
But this does affect all of StuComm, and it is something to be addressed promptly. Commissioners with the responsibility of student representation and fund-allocation, allowed that comment to influence their decision, and thus agreed to the silencing of victims under the pretext of equality. While I believe the commissioner who made the initial comment should hold herself responsible, it is more important that all of those who tacitly agreed to her discourse should take part in a campus-wide discussion on the reasons why they felt student safety is up to interpretation—or why it was allowed to be acceptably interpreted before?

StuComm’s Survey Results Show Need For Change

By Darrin Camilleri

 

This past week, Student Commission surveyed 418 students on many different issues that the College has been wrestling with and that students have been pushing for, some new and some old.  Of the approximately 28% of the student body who participated, 63% were female, 35.5% were male and 1.5% did not prescribe to a gender. Additionally, of those who took the survey, 70% identified as white students while the remaining 30% identified as domestic students of color or international students. Interestingly, the political breakdown was much more nuanced than the typical campus narrative: 2% identified as very conservative, 9% as conservative, 21% as moderate, 34.5% as liberal, 17% as very liberal, and 16% chose none of the political affiliations listed.

What was most striking about the results to each question was this: Across class year, gender, race, and politics, the students of Kalamazoo College are resoundingly calling for big changes to campus.

When asked about the three biggest challenges that K students face, answers varied from racism and tuition to scheduling and time management and everything in between. But the most frequent answer by far was stress. However, overall, students report that they are satisfied with their experience at K by a 90%:10% margin, saying things like “I’ve seen a lot of positive development over the last few years, and although there’s still a lot to do, I think we’re headed in a good direction,” and “Although as a student of color it is difficult to be here, I have grown as a leader so It has made me stronger and I would not change that for anything.” And it was clear in the written responses that the biggest reason students enjoy it here is because of the students and professors they build relationships with.

That being said, students did respond to the survey with a call for change. Students report that the expanded gym hours meet their needs 74%:5%, with 20% having no opinion. Nearly 10% of students have gone through the conduct process, with the review having met expectations to merely 36% of respondents.  And 56% of students report to be aware that social media posts can be used in a conduct case. On the question of whether all juniors should be allowed to live off campus, 73% support ending the residency requirement.

One of the more split questions was around making K a smoke-free campus. Students support the initiative 48.5%:35.65%.  When discussing the Office of Multicultural Affairs, 46% are aware that it exists while 54% are not, and only 20% think that it meets the needs of students of color, first-generation students, and LGBT students. Forty-eight percent of students want to see an expanded office with more staff and programing. On the question of Ethnic Studies, 65% are aware of the campus conversation, while nearly 70% support permanently adding Ethnic Studies as a department.

Furthermore, nearly 69% of students say they are aware of the conversation around Divestment and 71% would support an initiative to divest our endowment from fossil fuels.  The most overwhelming response by students was for a late-night Safe Ride program, with 79% of students saying they would utilize a program like that. Finally, on the question of the Board of Trustees, only 9% feel that the Board is accessible to students and 75% would support placing a student on the Board.

As Student Commission President, these survey results tell me that students overwhelmingly support initiatives that we have been advocating for all year—and sometimes for my entire four years, like a Safe Ride program.  Furthermore, this data proves that that these aren’t simply StuComm’s pet projects that certain commissioners would like to see accomplished. All students want to have their voices heard on these issues and want the Administration to listen. And the calls won’t go away once strong advocates graduate. There is a trend, and the trend will only continue until President Wilson-Oyelaran and the Board of Trustees take action. That’s why I am urging them to listen to the voices of the students in this survey and begin to put the wheels in motion to address these concerns. The safety, well-being, and future of our fair Arcadian hill depend on it.

Full results can be found at reason.kzoo.edu/stucomm.

Criticism from Within

After a deadlock vote on Model UN’s $6,000 budget request, Student Commission continues debate on how to allocate their funds with criticism coming from within.

By Allison Tinsey

Donning suits and ties, Seniors Rami Sherman and Mehmet Kologlu stood in front of Student Commission and over twenty other members of the campus community to present their budget request for Model United Nations (MUN) to attend a conference at the University of Chicago in April.

Their PowerPoint presentation laid out what MUN does as a student organization, how attending conferences is an essential part of being in MUN, and how attending this conference and future conferences could leverage Kalamazoo College’s ability to host a MUN conference of their own in the next few years.

The original budget request from MUN calls for $7,201, which includes registration, accommodation, and travel expenses, but at Monday’s Student Commission meeting, only $6,000 was asked for by MUN. It was expressed that the other $1,201 would come from the Provost Travel Fund and fundraising.

The $6,000 would also keep MUN within the ten percent limit that student organizations are allowed to request as outlined in StuComm’s by-laws. The ‘ten percent limit’ refers to the total amount of money student organizations are allowed to request from StuComm within a fiscal year. Ten percent of the entire StuComm budget from the beginning of the fiscal year is just over $11,000.

MUN had previously requested and received $5,000 from Student Commission for the conference they attended in Montreal and were well within their right to request $6,000 from the Commission.

After MUN’s presentation, they fielded questions and the motion on the table was discussed for approximately 45 minutes. The Commission held a vote to fund the request in full. The Commission was deadlocked: 11 yes, 11 no, and 1 abstention. In the event of a tie, the President must vote. Model United Nations was denied their request when President Darrin Camilleri broke the tie voting no, bringing the vote totals to 11 yes, 12 no, and 1 abstention.

The discussion that took place over the course of the meeting focused primarily on the lack of nuance in the financial policy by-laws. But this is not the first time that these discussions have taken place.

According to Senior Commissioner Anna Asbury, much of her time on the Commission has been spent debating budget requests and the rules that dictate how money is allocated.

“Every winter the same conversation happens. This conversation revolves around funding and what to do about our Spring Quarter budget,” she said.

The conversation Asbury refers to happened again at Monday’s meeting. The question was raised about the amount of money that is left to fund large, expensive events that traditionally happen in the spring, including Crystal Ball, the Cultural Awareness Troupe (CAT), and Frelon. Would StuComm have enough money to fund these events – events that have not turned in their budget requests yet – and still be able to fund the MUN conference?

Student Commission operates on a rolling budget. This is outlined in Article V, Section 3, B. a. of the by-laws. While the by-laws also state that StuComm is to be financially responsible, they generally allocate funds throughout the year on a first come, first served basis if the request meets all requirements. The “first come, first served” language is not in the by-laws, but Secretary of Finance Kelly Ohlrich described the allocation process as such.

“We need to have a better system in place that codifies and explains exactly what Student Commission thinks in regards to budgeting for Spring Quarter. There needs to be a clear cut way of how we will deal with Spring Quarter budgeting, so that this conversation does not continue to happen year after year, and so that student organizations can actually know what to expect,” stated Asbury.

“My primary concern is with consistency in the budgeting process,” said Rasheed Hammouda in a message to the Commission after Monday’s meeting.

He added, “I have seen StuComm rationalize their rejection of a budget primarily on a technical or procedural concern, [despite] that technicality being absent in the by-laws. On the flip side, I have seen StuComm rationalize their approval of budgets in a manner that sought to circumvent or mitigate a perceived technical concern that was, in fact, absent from the by-laws.” Hammouda is a Student Commission Fellow who services on the Financial Policies Committee (FPC).

Over the course of his time serving as a Fellow, Hammouda has repeatedly brought up the issue of inconsistency in the budgeting process. He describes his roll as a line judge providing an outside perspective when discussions on the Commission stray toward groupthink. Hammouda points out that there is no nuanced “anticipation clause” within the by-laws that would prevent StuComm from funding large requests that precede those of the spring.

“StuComm is saying that [the anticipated] budgets are all, essentially, preapproved. Beyond this being…unfair, it creates a moral hazard where these ‘pre-favored’ clubs lack the incentive to be as rigorous, thorough, and advanced with their budgeting requests,” he said.

Camilleri fears putting too much nuanced language into the by-laws, stating, “The fact that we have these discussions is based on the idea that we will be looking at each issue individually and that we will be considering its merits individually and also in the broader context of what this budget will mean for the student body.”

Currently, FPC members Amanda Johnson, Rian Brown, and Graham Wojtas are drafting nuanced by-law language to clarify StuComm’s position on the allocation of funds for food. Camilleri said that the draft will be reviewed within the week.

The other point of contention and the ultimate deciding factor for Camilleri was how much money would be spent for the amount of people attending. The requested $6,000 included nearly $4,000 in accommodations alone for 24 people.

“I’m not opposed to the idea of them going to that conference, I’m just opposed to spending that much money on another conference,” said Camilleri.

Model United Nations is allowed to edit their request and resubmit it to StuComm. In the same meeting, Student Commission approved over $6,000 between multiple student organizations to fund Afro Fiesta Desi Soul, taking place a week from Saturday.

Student Commission Update

By Allison Tinsey

At the beginning of the meeting, President Darrin Camilleri appointed Siga Kisielius to replace Ogden Wright’s sophomore commissioner position after he abdicated last week. Kisielius is a sophomore and was chosen among other applicants by the Executive Board who advertised the position throughout sixth week after Wright stepped down. They asked three questions of applicants, including why they wanted to be on the Commission, what committees they would like to serve on, and what their impact could be by serving on the Commission.

Camilleri and Vice President Cameron Goodall recapped the City Commission meeting they attended, where they discussed this weekend’s armed robbery of two Kalamazoo College students, a MDOT request for a covered bus stop on West Main St., as well as a cross walk on West Main. The City Commission was deeply concerned with the assault on the students and will look into getting better lighting for that area. As for the concerns about West Main, the roads are under the jurisdiction of the Michigan Department of Transportation, not the city of Kalamazoo.

Concerning the Executive Board’s meeting with the President and Deans, Goodall remarked that the Innovation Fund ideas were well-received and they avidly discussed the viability of many of the ideas and where alternative funding could come from to make more than just one of the proposals come to fruition. They also discussed expanding and building upon Multiculturalism and Diversity at Kalamazoo College. While the administration recognizes the need for expansion, they also feel that the College is doing what they are capable of at this time compared to other schools. “It was a bit disappointing,” commented Camilleri.

Before the commencement of Monday’s meeting, the Commission was tasked with accommodating 22 Kalamazoo College students there to represent their budget requests and Innovation Fund applications later in the meeting. During the discussion of budgets, Model UN brought forth a budget request to attend a conference at the University of Chicago in April that would cost $6,000. The majority of the request was for hotel accommodations for the 24 participants. The vote on the request was tied 11-11-1, forcing President Camilleri to vote. Camilleri voted “no” and the request was denied. In the next request, Afro Fiesta Desi Soul was allocated $6,353.40 for the event taking place next week, on Saturday. The request included supplies and food for various student organizations. This year will be the fifth collaboration and will include six organizations. Innovation Fund applicants then spent the remainder of the meeting presenting their ideas to the Commission as a whole. The Commission will deliberate and vote on the Innovation Fund applications at next week’s meeting.

Innovation Fund Draws Applicants

By Allison Tinsey

Student Commission’s Innovation Fund grants $5,000 to a student initiative that will benefit the campus for the long-term. StuComm received eight applications and narrowed the pool to six and will make their final decision during next week’s meeting. The student population was asked to express support for the initiatives in a survey. A brief description of each innovation is below and the information was provided by Student Commission and the applicants.

 

Access to Storytelling

The goal is to provide appropriate updates in equipment on campus for liberal artists of the 21st Century. Our physical, tangible goal is to buy 5 Canon T3i Digital Single Reflex Cameras with associated equipment to make modern, adequate film-making possible for all students across campus. The equipment would replace older cameras and could be used by multiple students in multiple departments to tell stories to audiences on and off campus.

 

Intelligence Squared, Kalamazoo

With this project, through bringing expert and well-renowned speakers to campus and allowing students to participate and listen to well reasoned debates, the innovators intend to broaden K’s horizons to create even more well-rounded and informed members of the campus community. These debates will provide arguments on current issues that will educate, challenge, solidify, and at times, change the views of members of the K-community as they learn valuable skills. This initiative is based off of the Intelligence Squared US organization and the debates will be carried out Oxford-style.

 

Kolors of K

In response to the Evergood mural in Welles Dining Hall, this innovation seeks to create a more representative art piece giving students from all walks of life and interested with varying experiences the opportunity to work together and create something beautiful. The Evergood mural is a reflection of the school from over 70 years ago. Kolors of K will be a collaborative effort to show the diversity of Kalamazoo College students now and for years to come, in order to make a symbolic change toward a more progressive College.

 

Leadership and Development Challenge Course

This unique challenge course will help build teamwork, communication, trust, leadership, and support in all groups, all while having fun, and challenging yourself and others. The LDCC will be located in Kalamazoo College’s very own Lillian Anderson Arboretum. All members of the community can enjoy the outdoors while learning how to make their group on campus a closer community. Additionally, the course will be incorporated with a program that will help students develop their leadership skills. The course will create an opportunity for students to grow as leaders and facilitators.

 

Let It Bee

Over the past few decades, native bees have experienced severe population decline across the nation. Let it Bee is a proposal for the installment of bee friendly ’buzz boxes’ on the periphery of Kalamazoo College’s campus. This permanent and dynamic project involves multiple departments across campus, including Facilities Management, Biology, and the Woodshop, who will collaborate with students to establish, maintain, and study these spaces. The buzz boxes would be safe havens for native bees in an ever-developing urban environment. They would raise awareness about the effect that humans have on the local environment and have an impact that would extend far beyond the limits of our campus.

 

Transport

This project would provide transportation to any students to local grocery stores like Target, Meijer, or Wal-Mart on Sundays. The program would be available for students with limited or no means of transportation, especially since the buses do not run on Sundays. The initial funds would come from the Innovation Fund, but to continue the program the participating students would be asked to pay a small fee similar to a bus fare. This would allow consistent access to perishable and refined packaged goods during the school year.

 

Heavy Lifting

By Mallika Mitra

 

Extending Hours: K students now have a wider window for working out. Here, Nana-Yaw Aikens ''16 lifts at Anderson Athletic Facility, where the hours of operation have been extended.

Student Commission and the Office of Student Involvement have worked together to extend Anderson Weight Room hours.

According to Emily Sklar ’15, Student Commission Secretary of Athletics, the trial period of extended gym hours began on Saturday, Feb. 8 and will continue for the duration of the quarter.

Winter is a busy time for the gym and the administration could not officially extend gym hours so quickly.

“Student Commission wanted to see something happen quickly…we weren’t comfortable with waiting until the spring,” Sklar said.

To help solve this, the student workers in the gym will be paid through funding from Student Commission and the Office of Student Involvement via the Student Activities Fee.

“Thus far, we have collected feedback from students about how they feel about the gym [hours] and talked to a few students to see what gym hours they would like to see,” Sklar said. “Student Commission’s Athletics Committee wrote a proposal for Student Commission… and [Student Commission] voted to show their support.”

The gym hours for the trial period will be from 7am to 11pm Monday through Thursday, 7am to 10pm on Friday, 12pm to 8pm on Saturday, and 12pm to10 pm on Sunday, said Sklar.

She added that the gymnasium will be open for five additional hours, which will help club sports and intramural sports gain access to practice. It will be open at 12pm on Sunday.

Sklar explained that in the last year, two students organizations have been established to create a healthier lifestyle for those who are not on sports teams: NETS and K Team. She said that she has been working with the Ultimate Frisbee captains and these two new students organizations to allow the students involved to have more gym time.

According to Sklar, because the women’s lacrosse team is now a varsity sport, club sports are having more trouble getting time in the gymnasium.

Furthermore, Sklar expressed that if students want to support having extended gym hours, they should show up to the gym during the additional hours for the duration of the trial period.

 

Student Commission Brief

By Graham Key

At the opening of Monday’s Student Commission meeting, Commission President Darrin Camilleri presented a graphic breakdown of endowment sizes for all colleges in the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA), including Kalamazoo College.  The graphic, made available to Camilleri by the college administration, is part of a growing effort to make the K endowment more accessible to the student body.

Commission Vice President Cameron Goodall announced his new draft for the Student Commission Fellows program.  According to Goodall, the applications will be made available during Sixth Week.

Secretary of Finance Kelly Ohlrich announced the FPC’s recommendation to approve a $1500 budget-request made by the Pre-Law Society for their annual alumni dinner.  Following the passage of a friendly amendment to correct a typo on the meeting agenda, which had erroneously set the budget request $200 lower, the commission approved the request.

Ohlrich also announced that the Innovation Fund campaign received eight applications, three over her expectation.  The contents of the applications will be held in secrecy by the commission until sixth week for reasons unapparent to the Index.

First-Year Commissioner Andrew Kim updated commissioners on his meeting with the Student Life Advisory Committee (SLAC) about the upcoming Monte Carlo casino night.  According to Kim, SLAC will distribute 925 bracelets for students who preregister for the casino night, the limited number to conform to the fire code’s 999 person cap in the Hicks Center.

Junior commissioner Emily Sklar announced that the hours of operation for Anderson Athletic Facility will extend from Saturday of Sixth Week to the end of term.  According to Sklar, the cost of extended hours will fall on the Student Commission budget and the budget of the Office of Student Involvement.

During the public comment portion of the commission gathering, First-Year Sarah Bragg asked Camilleri about his plan of action regarding an allegation against the Financial Planning Committee made by Bragg the previous day.

According to Camilleri, there was miscommunication between the FPC and Bragg regarding who can sit in on FPC committee meetings.

“We plan on fully examining the situation,” Camilleri said.