Criticism of Senior Class Council results in tears

The March 28 meeting of the Student Government Association (SGA) was marked by emotional debate regarding the cancellation of Senior Week.

Tom Sales, senior political science major, expressed his opinion regarding the changes made to the event in a speech that brought some members of the administration, SGA and Senior Class Council to tears. Sales said the administration was deceiving in labeling changes made to the regulation of alcohol consumption during Senior Week as a return to established alcohol policy. He said the College’s “A Guide to Residence Living” allows for students 21 years of age to consume alcohol with some restrictions.

“(The administration is) trying to change our traditions and who we are. We shouldn’t let them do that,” Sales said.

Sales acknowledged the work put forth by the Senior Class Council in planning Senior Week. However, he was critical of the Council’s handling of the event’s cancellation. Sales said the Senior Class Council, and specifically Gabe Alonso, Senior Class Council treasurer, attempted to place blame with the senior class for the cancellation. Only 7 percent of seniors chose to sign up for the event.

“(The Senior Class Council) continue(s) to shift blame away from (itself) and the administration – it’s despicable,” Sales said. “Blaming the rest of the senior class, as Gabe repeatedly did, is unprofessional and shameful; it’s transparent and wrong.” Sales pointed out that Alonso failed to purchase a ticket for the event himself. Alonso later confirmed this in an e-mail interview, saying he had chosen not to attend the event because his friends were not.

“I just hope our classmates understand that (the Senior Class Council) truly put forth an amazing effort to make (Senior Week) as fun, exciting and memorable as possible,” Alonso said.

Magda Manetas, executive director for Student and Residential Development, defended the administration and Senior Class Council. Manetas reaffirmed the decision to ban alcohol consumption during Senior Week, saying the size of the event makes supervision of alcohol consumption difficult. Manetas said the decision was part of a long-term process, which included the formation of a commission on alcohol use at the College, as well as an open forum.

Manetas said Senior Week was canceled by seniors. She said despite improvements to the program, seniors chose not to attend, with the only change in the program being the elimination of alcohol consumption.

“I find it very difficult to accept when some students say that this was not about alcohol and (their) ability to use alcohol,” Manetas said. “We’re being honest when we say that we want this program to continue. I just need for you to acknowledge how hard the Senior Class Council worked.”

SGA members questioned the appropriateness of Sales’ remarks, saying they were rude and offensive and suggesting a private forum would have been more proper. Steven Link, vice president of Academic Affairs, disagreed.

“If this is not the appropriate forum to talk about student concerns, I am quite shocked,” Link said.

SGA passed a Rally Resolution, drafted by Mike Strom, vice president of Legal and Governmental Affairs. Strom said he drafted the resolution as “a way to try and receive more student participation in our rally efforts.” Strom and other members of his committee are in the process of organizing a May 3 rally in Trenton to protest state budget cuts made to funding for higher education.

Link discussed the outcome of a recent meeting with Interim Provost Beth Paul. Link said Paul supports the increase of student governance at the College, including student involvement in the advising process and the utilization of student academic integrity officers. Link added that Paul continues to assess the results of curricular transformation at the College. Alumni are being asked to evaluate the success of transformation in different time intervals after graduation.

The student organization Students in Solidarity was awarded official club status. Members of the organization described their mission statement as the spreading of awareness about the United States’ influence in Latin America. Students in Solidarity members will spread awareness by educating students at the College about issues faced by Latin Americans. Members of the organization also hope to encourage student service initiatives in Latin America.