A new Student Commission at Kalamazoo College may emerge in Winter 2016, or possibly even sooner. “I would love to have the elections this afternoon!” said Elyse Tuennerman K’18, former Student Commission member.
Tuennerman has been actively discussing the future of the Commission with former members.
“I’ve talked with Brian Dietz and [many former members of the Commission],” explained Melissa Erikson K’17, “and it is my goal to get something up by the winter, at the latest.”
Both Erikson and Tuennerman shared parts of their discussions with other former members. Envisioned as what may come to be known as the “Student Collective,” a body of committee members resembling the former Commission would address student concerns and send representatives to faculty meetings. The idea of an independent financial board, acting as a separate body to handle student organization funding, was also mentioned by both. This division of responsibility would replace the structure of the currently suspended Commission.
The Student Commission was a body of elected students who formed the “government body for students on campus,” explained Travis Hunziker K’18, former Commission member.
This Commission served as a “way of communication between the student body and the administration,” Hunziker continued. Other responsibilities included allocating money for and approving student organizations’ budgets, as well as having members attend and participate in faculty meetings.
In Spring 2015, the Commission encountered a “question of purpose.” The three former members, Erikson, Hunziker, and Tuennerman agreed that many members felt as if the Commission was only focused on its financial responsibilities and no longer effective as a body. Coupled with what has become known as the “Google Doc Incident,” a case of digital vandalism, frustrations with the Commission lead to resignations of members and a student referendum to suspend the Commission’s constitution.
According to Erikson, Hunziker, and Tuennerman, communication has been very fragmented among former members. Tuennerman added, “The trouble at this point is that we’re waiting for the go-ahead.”
Tuennerman said that she hopes for more student engagement.
“Right now we’re looking at how to make this not just the Erikson-Duarte-Tuennerman show,” she said.
“This is an opportunity to build something that the campus needs and wants, and that’s something [that’s] really exciting.”