Here’s an awesome detailed reportback from Olivia of OU SDS (in Athens):
here’s a basic list of what athens sds has been doing and is planning to do:
–last year, we collected signatures to put several questions on the student
senate ballot asking students to rate how much confidence they have in the
administration’s ability to govern the university. 78% of voters (1/4 the
student body, the highest number of voters in OU history) responded they have no confidence in the administration. the faculty presented the same vote where 77% of respondents (about 1/2 the faculty) voted no confidence. the president publicly dismissed the votes, calling them “inconclusive.” to follow up, this past fall, the board of trustees publicly expressed their full confidence in the
president and subsequently created a policy where the president would be
evaluated every 5 years (at the end of his or her term), rather than each year, and would not accept input from constituent groups. the student senate then presented a resolution rejecting their proposal and urging the president to speak up in the name of shared governance (something he pretends exists).
neither the president nor the trustees budged.
–also last spring, sds member will klatt ran as an independent candidate for
president of student senate and only lost by 16 votes. (note: the other 2
candidates campaigned extensively and had parties consisting of about 30 members).
–last winter, several sds members were targeted while participating in an
anti-war rally by an administrator who alleged we (not the organizers of the
event) had to leave immediately because we didn’t have the right to be there– we had not reserved the space to hold the protest. we soon found out that the university has a policy that restricted “free speech” to several arbitrary and highly inconvenient “zones” on campus; these spaces must be reserved in order to be able to, in essence, be occupied– and even then, only by established student organizations and only at particular times of day. we demanded the formation of a committee (on which several of us served) to re-write the university policy and submitted a proposal to the administration who ignored many of our recommendations. the new policy can be found here:
–this year, we have put together a party (called the birthday party) to run for student senate for next year with many sds members on it, as well as members of the republican and democrat groups and others. although the student senate only has the power of suggestion, we are going to push to become a decision making body. we’re running on the platform of:
1. voting rights for all constituent groups on the board of trustees;
2. checks and balances – giving constituent groups the right to make actual
decisions regarding issues that effect them;
3. making the general fee committee a policy-making body – the “general” fee is our money and we want to have control over what it goes to;
4. reforming the harsh, reactionary alcohol and marijuana policies that were made against the recommendations of the student-run policy making committee.
Some longer term goals include:
1. pressuring the state to lower tuition by returning to a tax-based system
rather than out-of-pocket;
2. getting our student-run radio station back on the air after 8 years of being exclusively online after the FCC changed a policy;
3. actual, concrete, visible steps to reducing the university’s energy use,
rather than just signing on to the “campus climate challenge” which does not
require any change for 10 years, and even then only minimal changes;
4. we see diversity as transcending just race, but also encompassing religion, thought, sexual orientation, class, gender, and sex – therefore we want the university to include ALL diversity when recruiting future students;
5. we acknowledge that the university has been taking steps to improve student health services, but we feel it is important that STD tests are free or
significantly more affordable, and mental health services are more available and higher quality.
–at the end of the quarter, we are going to have a day-long benefit concert
with all local bands whose proceeds will go to the students who were forced to drop out of school because they were sued by the RIAA for downloading music illegally. we’ll have free cds and raise awareness about the issues of
intellectual property, copyright laws, and the like.
–like last year, every friday (the last half of spring quarter) we have a “free
store” in the center of campus. the idea is that everyone brings stuff they
don’t want anymore to the designated spot and is free to take whatever other people brought to get rid of, even if they haven’t brought anything. we have
some info on consumption and whatnot.
–some goals for the future:
1. if elected to the student senate, we want to push to get voting rights for
both the constituencies’ senates and for ALL trustees. that, to us, is shared
2. we hope to build connections with other student groups in order to exchange ideas, work together on projects, and build a strong and cohesive alliance to stand up for student rights.
3. we want to continue to hold forums and workshops on campus in order to
4. we want to hold the administration accountable for suddenly firing 37 union employees (mostly maintenance and grounds) last year, giving the current “budget crunch” as their reason. however, they simultaneously hired 3 administrators. we and the union consider each other allies and want to continue to demand their rehiring.
5. although not immediately, we want to demand that the university stop buying paper from companies such as office max who employ some really fucked up and unethical business practices.
6. we want to continue to build a sustainability-minded student body and
community in order to make significant reductions in OU’s negative environmental impact. for example, expanding the recycling program, realizing the existing composting idea, encouraging future renovations to be sustainable, etc.
7. see: senate party platform.
To get in touch with Olivia, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.