College Council proposal to decrease student representation stirs up student engagement

By Alyssa Solis

At this month’s College Council, students were rallied to attend and protect the sanctity of student representation at Pitzer College. The Faculty Executive Committee put forward a motion to eliminate three student seats from the Campus Life Committee, resulting in resistance on the part of the students.

Pitzer senior and Senate Chair Jonathan Rice says that this issue wasn’t just about three seats on Campus Life Committee, but that it plays into the larger issue of student representation.

“Reducing the number of students on the Campus Life Committee not only would remove students from that committee alone, but would also open the door to further removal of the student voice from Pitzer’s governance process,” Rice said.

The removal of the three student seats was proposed last year to the Faculty Executive Committee, where it was allegedly approved. Braden Holstege, a junior and student representative on the Faculty Executive Committee, said that whether the issue was properly voted on is questionable. He also says that the issue is not as black and white as it seems to the casual onlooker.

“It’s important to note that the proposal as brought forward to College Council this year was never approved by this year’s FEC,” Holstege said.

Holstege maintains that the original proposal stemmed from a disagreement between students and faculty members on Campus Life Committee last year about the use of CLC funds for OrgSync, a program that is part of a campus-wide effort to streamline student-run organizations on campus. He said that faculty members felt that they were outvoted by students on the issue, and sought to alter the ratio of faculty to students on the committee to prevent it from happening again. However, the makeup of the Faculty Executive Committee has changed since last year and the current members had mixed feelings about the issue.

He also said that it is important that students don’t villainize the entirety of the administration, some of whom didn’t explicitly condemn the proposal but who made sure that students were on even footing to fight against it. “Trombley motioned for the issue to not be voted on until this year, essentially giving the student body time to organize against the proposal.

Allowing the motion to wait until this year allowed Student Senate the time to discuss the issue and mobilize the student body, which Rice set out to do by informing the student body of the issue via student-talk.

Rice described the turnout of students at the College Council meeting as ”incredible”, and said that it played an instrumental role in the defeat of the proposal.

Holstege was less impressed. Some critics of College Council say that the governing body is structured so that the odds are stacked against the students if the faculty decided to vote as a bloc. Holstege says that if enough students show up, they have the power to derail any proposal that would act against them, but that he is not hopeful about the prospect of attaining that level of student engagement. Rice says that to change the fundamental ways in which this body is structured, an important conversation needs to be had by all Pitzer students.

Both Rice and Holstege had a similar message for the student body regarding future issues with student representation.

“Students have to be vigilant in maintaining their voice. We must exercise the power that is invested in us, otherwise it is worthless,” Rice said. “I hope that this gave more students a chance to see how governance at Pitzer works, and that students will want to continue to be a part of this process.”

Holstege, never lacking in brevity, simply said, ”Show up to College Council.”

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