SGA Meeting Minutes – November 6, 2016
- Role Call:
- The meeting began at 7:10 PM with Role Call.
- Present: Katherine Nichols, Ananya Kumar, Abbie Sullivan, Camila Duluc, Elizabeth Hilton, Tyler Brown-Cross, Precious Robinson, Bridget Murray, Kyra Sagal, Sam Heyrich, Catherine Bunza, Sohini Maniar, Mariana Garcia, Genesis Perez-Melara, Nora Dell, Priyanka Dutta, Hannah Henderson-Charnow, Connie Lam, Lillian Oyen-Ustad, Nikki Shakamuri, Abby Chernila, Dilesha Tanna, Margaret Gorman, Lea Williams, Manal Hussain, Leticia Robledo, Adriana Gay, Juhi Aggarwal, Jessica Breet, Emma Porter, Nicky Westerduin, Evelyn Aviles, Jasmine Rangel, Madison Brown, Emily Drummond, Emma Lasky, Emma Levin, Claire Gaposchkin, Sarah Awad
- Absent: May Zhu, Veda Nambi, Makeda Wade, Farida Ilboudo, Phoebe Dopulous, Claire Romaine, Celeste Ledesma
- Hot Topic – Confederate Flags and Institutional Memory:
- Most of the meeting this week was focused on the week’s Hot Topic – Confederate Flags and Institutional Memory. This was to discuss the incident in which two Bryn Mawr seniors hung a Confederate Flag in the Fall of 2014, sparking a school-wide demonstration, the annual Community Day of Learning, and discussion on campus as to what racism looks like at Bryn Mawr and in the world today (how institutional racism manifests itself and how we can work to stop this).
- Students who were present for the incident and students who had not yet come to Bryn Mawr came to the event.
- Students split into groups to answer the following questions:
- Where does community come into these acts of violence and intolerance on campus? How do build community when these acts are constant?
- In understanding we all come from different backgrounds, how do we educate people on this campus as a community without burdening marginalized people? How do international students fit in this question as both a group who might not be versed in American history or need to remind people about their background?
- How do we hold administration accountable? Students graduate in and out of Bryn Mawr, but administration stays. How do not let momentum die? How do we use institutional memory to preserve the memory of administrative failures and student action?
- When these acts are committed how do we hold those who commit them responsible? Where is the accountability?
- During the debrief students came together to discuss the findings of their conversations and ways SGA (the students) can hold not only the Bryn Mawr Administration accountable for racism and racist incidents but also one another as students.
- There was an Interfaith Vigil on Sunday, November 6 (the night of the meeting) in Rhoads Dining Hall. The Fall Student Dance Councert will also occur on Saturday, November 19 at 8:00 PM at Haverford.
- East versus West will take place Saturday, November 12 in Pem East and Pem West. The theme is “space versus leather and lace”. If you are interested in bouncing (especially during the later shifts), please email any of the Pem East or West Dorm Presidents. You must be sober and party trained to bounce.
- Civic Engagement will be running a shuttle to and from Pem Arch to the local Bryn Mawr polling place on Election Day Tuesday, November 8 until 8:00 PM. For more information, please email Elizabeth Hilton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The November Appointments Round is now open. Positions up for Appointment include: Access Services Coordinator (1-2), Alcohol Concerns Review Board (1-2), Customs Committee Head(s) (1-2), Customs Committee (6), Dining Services Advisory Board (4), Elections Board (1), Financial Aid Advisory Board (2), Orientation Reorganization Committee (3), Social Committee (1-3), Sustainable Food Committee (1-3), Traditions Committee (1; Class of 2017, 2018, 2019 only). For more information please visit appointments.blogs.brynmawr.edu. If you have any questions, please email Shaina Robinson at email@example.com.
- The meeting was adjourned at 8:19 PM.
Rhea Manglani ‘17: It’s 7:10, we’re going to start the meeting with Role Call.
Rachel Bruce ’18: Hi everyone, I am required by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to tell you that everything said here tonight will be recorded.
Present: Katherine Nichols, Ananya Kumar, Abbie Sullivan, Camila Duluc, Elizabeth Hilton, Tyler Brown-Cross, Precious Robinson, Bridget Murray, Kyra Sagal, Sam Heyrich, Catherine Bunza, Sohini Maniar, Mariana Garcia, Genesis Perez-Melara, Nora Dell, Priyanka Dutta, Hannah Henderson-Charnow, Connie Lam, Lillian Oyen-Ustad, Nikki Shakamuri, Abby Chernila, Dilesha Tanna, Margaret Gorman, Lea Williams, Manal Hussain, Leticia Robledo, Adriana Gay, Juhi Aggarwal, Jessica Breet, Emma Porter, Nicky Westerduin, Evelyn Aviles, Jasmine Rangel, Madison Brown, Emily Drummond, Emma Lasky, Emma Levin, Claire Gaposchkin, Sarah Awad
Absent: May Zhu, Veda Nambi, Makeda Wade, Farida Ilboudo, Phoebe Dopulous, Claire Romaine, Celeste Ledesma
Hot Topic – Confederate Flags and Institutional Memory:
Rhea Manglani ’17: We changed the structure of this meeting a bit to make sure that we can devote most of our attention to the Hot Topic. If you’re a moderator, please stand up. This is like middle school graduation. Thank you for doing this. Usually hot topics are held further into the meeting. We want to thank Nkechi as well for her time in working with us to make this happen.
Rachel Bruce ‘18: Last week we presented a short history of the Confederate Flag incident. To give a quick review: In Fall 2014 two senior students hung up a Confederate flag in front of their dorm room in Radnor and then moved it inside their dorm room, but made it visible through the window for people outside. Administration took 2 weeks to act (have the health center and deans send out emails), and meanwhile the student body was forced to reconcile on its own. A demonstration was organized by students and held after a lack of response from the administration. When it came time to discuss the Confederate Flag Incident at SGA shortly after, the representative council voted on whether minutes should be taken or not and ultimately voted to not take minutes.
Shaina Robinson ‘17: This moment illustrates a weakness of SGA. The argument to not take minutes was to create a “safe space” where people could talk freely and openly. Instead, this action took away a crucial point of history for students. The learning that came from this conversation is no longer available. The experience of students of color, particularly African American students, on this campus, the hurt felt both inside and outside of Radnor, and the beginnings of mobilization by students were all erased by this action. Moreover, instead of creating safe space, the meeting became an accountability-free space where the comfort of white students superseded the needs of the campus at large. Whatever ideas were exchanged, whatever debates occurred, and whatever moments of clarity were offered became lost by this action. Students who feigned ignorance over the hurt that this flag caused could continue to feign ignorance as the record for this discussion was gone.
Jocelyne Oliveros ‘18: So the premise of SGA is that we are all members of SGA and welcome this diversity of thought, ideas, and experiences within our campus. Often times, this idea has been translated as a means to take up positions of extreme neutrality in crisis situations. So in the wake of large movements, multiple executive boards and representative councils have chose to uphold oppressive structures under the guise of neutrality and comfort. Throughout SGA’s history, there undoubtedly many moments of SGA not taking stands on various controversies, or offering larger platforms to marginalized voices.
Swati Shastry ‘18: And as this student body continues to diversify and change, SGA must respond to those needs and grow out of its platitudes of white comfort and administrative convenience. SGA must uphold the honor code while simultaneously challenging the bounds of the honor code. This means upholding accountability for both students and administration while serving as a space for learning to happen. SGA must maintain its institutional memory so that future years can situate incidents in history and use it as a resource as well as a source of ideas for organizing.
Rhea: As an E-Board, we’ve talked about encouraging more people of color to join SGA and illustrate all the potential that SGA has. However, as a group of five students, who have our own identities outside of SGA, we’ve talked about building community. In recognizing this school’s population is both domestic and international, runs the gamut on gender identities and sexualities, and expresses diversity in a number of ways: racially, economically, and religiously, we know there are many perspectives at the table. It is our hope to build a community that is able to educate without burdening marginalized people, that is able to hold individuals and larger structures accountable, and always chooses to preserve its memory as a means of ensuring accountability and community history.
As I’ve seen organizing efforts in and outside, they’ve taken a lot from records from alumni and written records. I just want to thank you all for coming out tonight. So we’re going to split into small group discussions. If you are a facilitator stand over here and I’ll count you one through six.
I’ve assigned the small group as follows:
- Paola, Michelle
- Mercedes, Ananya
- Nkechi (and if you can join: Alexa)
The Assembly and students/members of SGA present broke for ten minutes to engage in the Hot Topic Discussion. Time was extended once by five minutes.
Rhea Manglani ‘17: So group one answered, “Where does community come into these acts of violence and intolerance on campus? How do build community when these acts are constant?” Another group answered, “In understanding we all come from different backgrounds, how do we educate people on this campus as a community without burdening marginalized people? How do international students fit in this question as both a group who might not be versed in American history or need to remind people about their background?” Another answered “How do we hold administration accountable? Students graduate in and out of Bryn Mawr, but administration stays. How do not let momentum die? How do we use institutional memory to preserve the memory of administrative failures and student action?” And another, “When these acts are committed how do we hold those who commit them responsible? Where is the accountability?”
Since this is a really large group, I know this might be intimidating even though one person focused on this. What’s a good idea of community building? Where does community come from after acts like this happen? New plan, just to start I’ll point to one group.
Kyra Sagal ‘17: Our group focused on the community question. Some of the things we talked about were how professors could talk about these things in their classrooms. Some have, but maybe if it’s a matter of incorporating into syllabus or just having five minutes at the beginning of class could be helpful.
Joy Chan ‘17: So we talked about how we make international students understand things that go on campus and how to not place the burden on marginalized identities. One thing was the spaces that are already there and building off of those relationships (like work)— not allowing these things to be washed over.
Nkechi Ampah ‘17: I think it’s interesting that we talked about this idea of community building because yeah, international students, how are we going to get these students to understand as if we’re not all from different cultural contexts. Because we all come from different backgrounds, our community itself is already fractured. If we don’t bring our bodies and our races into the conversation all the time of course when something happens or is going to happen, that’s overwhelming.
Rhea Manglani ‘17: Does anyone want to add anything?
Nkechi Ampah ‘17: Did the administration group come up with anything? I think it’s hard to come up with things.
Precious Robinson ‘19: An idea that came up was maybe having someone on the administration whose specific job description is making sure you can promote diversity within the admin’s thinking. Everything we’ve done at this college has been around student action. Students have had to fight within their own identities. It shouldn’t be another burden on my shoulders in fighting for my identity with the administration as well.
Jessica Breet ‘18: We also discussed that and it seemed that BMC pushes a lot and when it does happen everything seems to fall on admin’s shoulders. Pensby was created to help alleviate that. Well it has been around and they have three full time employees and they’re overworked. We should just hire someone. I know we’re small but I think it would be worth it.
Angela Motte ‘17: I think I’m a little more pessimistic in regards to this. I think it’s a problem that is institutionally based. This college was made for wealthy white women, and that traumatic history, that’s we’re incorporating now. We will always have that. As someone who is a history major and someone who focused on this, Bryn Mawr perpetuates trauma and violence. We need to re-work the system itself. I think it’s harder because we are only here for a set amount of time itself. Administration is looking out for themselves because they need jobs and I validated that because of today’s economy. Students speak for themselves. That’s something that worries me for the future.
Alexa Gjonca ‘17: Going off Angela’s point, as a group we thought a lot about ways o creating a community that’s constant as we leave. A lot of community is based on traditions because of community make us one. That’s destabilizing now because of what’s happening. We need to make sure that stays after we go, Angela brought up a really great point, Bryn Mawr has a calling out culture. Instead of having a safe space instead of sitting in their culture, we need to have a dialogue. A lot of how we think of ignorance is by calling people out. Maybe by calling people out is by changing the basis of that. People have different ideas going on, coming together, having a solid base that may stem from SGA, so administration knows they can’t ignore it.
Nkechi Ampah ‘17: I completely agree in terms of everything you just said. I think that it’s a thing that always happens or comes out is that are we calling people out are we speaking to them nicely so that they will understand. I worry that we silence voices of POC while trying to explain their hurt felt while trying to educate silence. Making it known that we need white allies. When white people say something about racism people listen more. POC have been doing it for a long time.
Evelyn Aviles ‘17: Talking about the Swastika and how to keep the momentum going. With the Community day of learning, it’s the same people who end up in workshops. We can’t mandate something that the administration does. Nothing they say is mandatory. We can’t get people to show up. Thrive is incorporating things there. Things like this, I don’t know I don’t have a solution.
Paola Bernal ‘17: I think it’s also that we keep bringing up this idea of community and safe space and as much as I want to keep going for that and keep this idea, I’m also recognizing that this itself is kind of hard because this space is temporary for a lot of us, not permanent. We come in and we come out. I think in focusing on institutional memory because we have people who were not here for it and how can they better. They should have to dig for hours for information. There should be people who have access to this in the administration. This information should be provided and it should be known. I personally believe that there is no one idea of community and though we have some ideas there is no one idea.
Evelyn Aviles ‘17: There was somone sitting here, Nora Dell, who started committee to archive. She said it’s really difficult and that the only way to sift through this is to have triple that.. to automatically record something. There’s no way to really log that once it happens. That’s a lot of work. If anyone has any ideas there.
Rhea Manglani ‘17: I saw Angela first and then Ananya. I just want to say that I there was fifteen minutes for discussion and now only two minutes. If you want to extend time there’s something called until speaking order or we can do ten more minutes. So I’ll give you those two options: speaking order, or five, or ten minutes
Angela Motte ’17: Motion ten minutes.
Rhea Manglani ‘17: I’ll assume that’s what everyone wants. If you’re in RepCo I’ll end meeting early because this is a lot of time. Sorry, we’re not going super official tonight.
Angela Motte ‘17: I was last year’s SGA secretary. That was a really good resource. Having faced a lot of backlash from admin, plus as students, I think it’s really great what people like Nora Dell have done. I think it’s something admin should do. The idea of institutional racism is rooted in racism because these structures are socialized and again because of these structures in place it’s hard to get the nature because of the structure itself. That’s hard, really hard. I was gonna say a bad word but I’m on the record. As institutional memory goes we will always have pushback from admin, that’s the nature of it.
Ananya Kumar ‘18: Creating communities that are also inclusive of academics. We go away and the student body changes. We need something in place.
Rhea Manglani ‘17: Anything else on community or institutional memory or even accountability? We touched on administration’s accountability but only a little with student with call out culture.
Swati Shastry ‘18: So our group was talking a lot about the Honor Code and how that fits into accountability with this. Did it go to the Honor Code? Is that it for accountability? Once they have the Honor Code hearing is that where the Honor Code ends. Also the values of the Honor Code say we have to respect someone so freedom of speech and I feel like we should not use the Honor Code in this way because Gabby said that like what happened on like the BMC Ride Share thing that happens someone quoted something from the Honor Code. We have an honor code so we have to watch our tone in the way that people are calling people out. That made me feel upset. White people will use it to police other students. Should you be nicer in these situations?
Jessica Breet ‘18: And the irony that we have this culture but it was all kept under wraps but I think that it should be exposed. Until the final exposed names, that’s how I found out and how other people found out. How something so terrible can be kept under wraps when they should have been called out on it. Really, it was to protect future careers of two people. Identities needed to be protected, so they were shipped off campus to live lives nicely in their opinion, filled with bigotry.
Rhea Manglani ‘17: One thing I thought about with accountability is learning. That’s a question I have with you all. Accountability. I think sometimes there is a weird voice not wanting to be the person who calls someone out on it.
Emma Porter ‘17: We talked a little about this. How to we cage what’s offence ad how we go about it. Restorative justice and continuative education as a form of punishment. We hesitated with punishment. I hesitate to use the word punishment because it’s not necessarily what the point is. It is to restore and I guess like, I lost my train of thought, but I wanted to bring that into the conversation.
Nkechi Ampah ‘17: In regard to restorative justice, Eli Claire, who wrote Isle in Pride, wrote novel about intersectionality. It related being marginalized in understanding perspectives of marginalized people. Being in itself a strange juxtaposition, what are we being restorative to? Two students who committed the act, they were able to do that every day if they lived in a community that did that. Were they living in a community that w want to be restored? Like students of color often feel their marginalized status by being at this place and when they were allowed to come here faced struggle on a daily basis. We are a community that has been put here together.
Rhea Manglani ‘17: All right, so we have about three minutes left. We’ll take final comments. Does anyone have anything to wrap up?
Alexa Gjonca ’17: Going forward, it’s important to not stop here. Conversations that happen because we want to be a community that wants to talk with each other. That takes calling in and calling out. Maybe there’s someone on your hall that’s really ignorant and says messed up stuff. Why we want to create a community? Community that comes together more than when there’s trauma. It would be really sad to leave this institution without figuring out a way to have a productive conversation that is not pivoted around white comfort.
Precious Robinson ’19: I think it’s really important to be accountable to hold things accountable but I think that as long as there’s an administration that can shield we are not protecting from physical harm but judgment. As long as we have an admin that refuses to hold students accountable we will never have a system. It’s not just making sure that KCass sends out here usual I love diversity emails. It’s actual actions that cater to diverse people.
Rhea Manglani ‘17: One more thing we’re going to do is announcements. Announcements are a time when any member of the Bryn Mawr community can make an announcement. We have ten minutes for this agenda item. If you have an announcement, come up.
Joy Chan ‘17: Hi, Joy Chan, class of 2017. First one is that there is an Interfaith Vigil tonight in Rhoads Dining Hall. There’s a film that’s happening in Rhoads tonightas well. Another is that the Fall Student Dance Concert is in two weeks.
Evelyn Aviles ‘17: Evelyn Aviles, class of 2017. Dorm President of East.
Jasmine Rangel ‘17: Jasmine Rangel, class of 17, Dorm President of East.
Madison Brown: Madison Brown, class of 2017, Dorm President of West.
Emily Drummond ‘17: Emily Drummond, class of 2017. Dorm President of West.
Jasmine Rangel ‘17: And as you can assume we are talking about East West. It’s this Saturday, Nov 12th. The theme is “space versus leather and lace”. We need people to bounce in both dorms. If you would like to bounce, tell us.
Emily Drummond ‘17: We need later positions.
Jasmine Rangel ‘17: You also have to be sober and party trained.
Elizabeth Hilton ‘19: I’m the Civic Engagement Representative. Tuesday is Election Day. Civic Engagement running a shuttle all day to voting location in Bryn Mawr. Civic Engagement members will be set up in Pem Arch to answer any questions.
Gabrielle Smith ‘17: How late will it run?
Elizabeth Hilton ‘19: It will run until 8:00 PM.
Shaina Robinson ‘17: Hi everyone, the November Appointments Round is officially open. Positions up for appointment are Access Services Coordinator (1-2), Alcohol Concerns Review Board (1-2), Customs Committee Head(s) (1-2), Customs Committee (6), Dining Services Advisory Board (4), Elections Board (1), Financial Aid Advisory Board (2), Orientation Reorganization Committee (3), Social Committee (1-3), Sustainable Food Committee (1-3), Traditions Committee (1; Class of 2017, 2018, 2019 only). The application will be open until November 14th and you can check appointments.blogs.brynmawr.edu for any updates.
Rhea Manglani ‘17: Quick apology to Precious— you had a great comment and I didn’t get to say that before. Take this out, spread it. Again, thank you for all being here and for taking your time be honest. We need a motion to end the meeting?
Lillian Oyen-Ustad ‘19 motioned to end the meeting.
Rhea Manglani ’17: Is there a second?
Bridget Murray ’17 seconded the motion.
Rhea Manglani ‘17: This is a Representative Council vote only. Your options are yes, no, and abstain. Yes? No? Abstain?
The meeting was adjourned at 8:19 PM.