We at The Occidental Weekly have lately focused our editorial efforts on the current, content-rich U.S. political climate. This week, we look inwards at the power of the student body to make tangible change within our campus community. From civic to student engagement, we must recognize the resources we as students have to advocate for ourselves.
Every two years, students vote on their preferred method of room draw. Residential Education and Housing Services (REHS) asked Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) to assist with the vote this year, to which they agreed. Yet, Feb. 9, one day before the ballot closed, REHS informed ASOC that they would need to take the room draw vote off the ballot. ASOC President Paul Charbonneau (sophomore) denied this movement. REHS then disregarded the student body vote, electing random room draw instead, to ease the workload of new staff members.
Two weeks ago, ASOC began a campaign by circulating a formal statement to students informing them of the progression of events, calling on REHS to repeal their retraction and on all students to join them in their efforts to pressure REHS to sticking to their word, policy and the college’s mission.
Charbonneau sent a follow-up email three days later insisting students continue their engagement. Last Friday, four days after this second email from ASOC, Chad Myers emailed the school on behalf of REHS announcing they would proceed with a room-draw process based on seniority, “per the original student vote” citing ASOC’s petition and The Weekly’s coverage as contributing to the pressure put on them to change their minds.
These events should serve as a reminder of the institutions — especially those that are student-run — we have available on this campus that wield significant influence. So often students propagate the myth that student government does not hold power. The revocation of the room-draw decision proves just how grave a misunderstanding this is: giving into a disengaged mindset has consequences that can affect the crucial amenities of our daily lives.
ASOC’s campaign against REHS’ decision is a motivating example of student engagement in action. We live on a small campus with varied amenities in housing which affects our well-being. The events of the past several weeks illuminate the power of a united student body. They inspire us to continue to come together, organizing ourselves methodically and creatively around the issues that affect us all.
After reveling in the student body’s success, let us take the time to reflect on the mechanisms that allow for such an achievement: student government, journalism and the ability to organize across student constituencies. Let us not forget the power we have when we are united and continue to use our influence to make this school a more honest, transparent place.