This past semester, Sarah Lawrence SDSers organized with student organizers and club members unaffiliated with SDS in order to launch a campaign to transform the structure and nature of the SLC student senate. Over the course of the 07-08 school year, there had been incidents of racism in senate’s funding procedures: some events planned for Asian-American History Month were denied funding on the basis of catering to a small amount of students. This incident showed the underlying lack of accountability and transparency in the senate structure.
After starting a dialogue with some senate leaders in February, we agreed to appear at a senate meeting to start a larger discussion there. However, the senate Vice President Lauren Glowzenski tyrannically refused to put us on the senate agenda for weeks and weeks. With no other option, the student activists busted into a senate meeting in March, having forewarned many of our senate allies, and demanded that the agenda be reorganized to prioritize our concerns. Our three demands were as follows:
1) Increase accountability through actualizing the club liason system (which matches clubs with senate members) during club chair training
2) Increase transparency by publishing senate notes, making the funding board open to the public, and ending the secret ballot
3) End racism, transphobia, etc. in the senate structure through having mandatory anti-oppression trainings for senate each fall
After many frustrating weekly meetings with student senate, we finally got all of these demands passed! Throughout the summer we will be helping out with the organizing of the anti-oppression training for senate and cooking up new campaigns for the fall. SLC SDS and our allies are very pleased to watch our senate structure evolve into a more radical, democratic, and participatory structure.