Dear Kalamazoo College Community,
Throughout the past month, the Student Commission has been working through the idea of what it means to be an effective student government, how best to serve students, and what would happen if the current Commission no longer existed. From the conversations had, there have been multiple perspectives given, but all consistent in the sense that something has to change. Students are confused about what the body does and do not find the body representative of students. There are also concerns that it does not have efficacy in creating change and is simply a “bank” to student organizations. Recognizing the large demand from students for change, Commissioners want to take the time to reflect on these concerns and act. However, it is extremely difficult to run the Commission “business as usual” while also taking the needed time to critically evaluate ourselves.
The current Student Commission constitution was enacted in 2009. Many amendments have been made to the document to create an entity that can better serve students and I think that those changes have been positive, but aside from budgetary amendments, I do not think the amendments have been able to address the root of the problem. Perhaps the current form of student government is no longer a relevant or necessary structure for enacting change on campus. With these thoughts in mind, the Commission proposed dissolving. The idea was that if there is not an acting student government, with the exception of continuing to fund student organizations, what happens? What does the campus lose and what can it gain? If there is a demand for an organized student voice, then it would develop as it has in many other instances outside of the Commission. Well-organized students with a value behind their work have been able to better Kalamazoo College. Students involved in the Intercultural Movement have made great strides in transforming the campus with much of that work being done today. Through the efforts of students for an ethnic studies program, Dr. Reid Gomez was brought to campus to develop the major that exists as of this year.
Students have been able to make wonderful changes on campus. All it takes is a desire and the dedication to make it happen. With a campus this size and an administration as accessible as this one is, information spreads quickly. The Commission does not then serve as the medium between students and administration when news gets to those with the power to make change without the extra step of having Commissioners bring it to the table. There is a great benefit from collaboration. Information sharing and processing is a powerful tool. With so many groups on campus with a mission whether these groups be academic, extra-curricular, socially focused, and/or any other concentrated group, perhaps there is a better way to pool students and areas of campus together than with the current structure of the Student Commission.
As of now, the Commission plans to put this decision of structural change to a vote by the student body. The vote would have students say whether or not they support the Commission suspending current operating procedures in order to focus the spring quarter on critically analyzing itself and drafting a proposal by the end of spring for what it will become. Working groups of Commissioners and non-Commissioners alike are already being formed to do this work. Every student interested in creating an entity that best serves the campus is welcome to help. If you would like to be involved or have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For the first time in almost a decade, the Commission is looking outside of its framework to make change. This is an incredible opportunity to develop a culture of cohesiveness and productivity at our school and I hope all students that want to make this happen will.
President of Student Commission