Senate discusses First Generation students, campus police


The Student Government Association Senate met in Blanchard great room Tuesday night to discuss recent issues on campus, including transgender students’ experiences, the Five College First Generation Conference and the SGA budget. The meeting also featured the Deputy Chief of Campus Police, Barbara Arrighi, who introduced various programs run by Campus Police and answered questions regarding noise complaints and alcohol consumption amnesty.

The meeting began with student questions and concerns, during which students lined up in front of the microphone to voice their concerns. One student com- plained about not having any therapists available during the weekend on campus, as the Counseling Service only operates Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s problematic because “most students live here,” she said, “and your [mental health issues] don’t stop during the weekend.” Afterwards, chair of Sen- ate Emily Stewart ’19 reminded attendees of the privacy concern of posting photos of students’ found OneCards on Facebook, suggesting that students email owners directly instead.

In the next section, president of the SGA Marwa Mikati ’17 updated the group about recent issues under discussion. First, the experiences of transgender students on campus were brought to the attention of both the faculty and administration. At last week’s faculty meeting, faculty members actively discussed the matter, and the administration announced that it was also seeking student feedback to evaluate the situation, Mikati said. Second, Mikati mentioned housing possibilities for Frances Perkins Scholars and international students during the summer this year. Frances Perkins Scholars, as in previous years, will be able to stay and store their personal belongings. International students who fare subject to the increasingly strict U.S. immigration policy that banned the entry of seven Muslim-majority countries’ citizens and restricted the entry of other nations’ citizens will also be permitted to stay.

In addition, the proposal for shuttles to and from airports is still being examined, and the result will come out next week.

After that, Stewart shared her take-aways from the Five College First Generation Conference, which was held at Smith College on April 7. Stewart informed the senators of a broader definition of first generation students, which now includes and is not limited to orphans or parent-less students. Acknowledging these non-traditional cases and respecting people’s self-identification in this category is crucial, Stewart said.

Stewart also noted that imposter syndrome and survivor’s guilt are psychological burdens borne by many in this group, and therefore it is important for these students to find a community on campus comprised of peers who can share their feelings.

Thinking ahead to next steps, Stewart mentioned a strategy used by Amherst College, in which T-shirts were printed for first generation professors and students during orientation that enabled the group to identify people who shared similar experiences. Stewart suggested that students seek support through MoZone training, joining First-generation Low Income Partnership and practicing self-care.

After Stewart’s talk, Arrighi took the stage to introduce the Campus Police and address students’ concerns. The Campus Police department is a bureau of 64 people and spread throughout three campuses: Mount Holyoke, Smith and Hampshire. They operate 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and are on duty during all holidays. Over the course of the last year, the office received 110,000 calls and 1,285 reports, demonstrating the essential role the department plays in campus life.

The hiring requirements are strict and demanding. All employees must go through training at a full police academy. They also have to be retrained in criminal law, ethics, emergency response, mental illness and more. Under law, Campus Police cannot hire a person with a masters in a subject other than law enforcement or criminal justice. “We do a tremendous amount of outreach,” Arrighi said, “But [qualified people] tend to go to federal and state police forces. It’s a hard sell.”

A student suggested forming student mediation groups for minor conflicts in residential halls, rather than bothering Campus Police late at night with noise complaints. Arrighi responded with approval. “Talk to your SCA, talk to your CA, talk to yourself,” she said. “There’s no way we need to deal with noise during 11-1 on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s just nuts. I know you guys should have fun, because you work hard.”

Students also inquired about amnesty in the drinking policy. Arrighi clarified that amnesty only applies to the person who makes an emergency call for another. For those who are too afraid to call for help for overdrinking, Arrighi said: “It’s not [the] crime of the century. The referral is to help you.” She explained the con- sequence of the first referral: “You’ll be sent to meet with Karen Jacobus. And for anybody who knows — Karen is an angel!”

Arrighi urged students who are concerned about Campus Police to look at the Annual Security and Fire Report, a thick booklet released annually in November. “It has everything [that’s] happened at Mount Holyoke that we have to report to you,” Arrighi said. Yet it’s “the least read thing on campus,” she said, “It should be made a mandatory reading in classes.” Arrighi also pointed out that an e-version is available on the Campus Police page, under the Clery Report tab in the left-hand column.

Lastly, Lan Ha ’17, treasurer of the SGA, updated the attendees on the budget and spending of the Ways and Means sector. This spring, the SGA has worked with the 87 student organizations to which they allocated more than half of their funding. This funding is distributed according to activity applications — the SGA members have spent 4.5 hours each week to review 108 documents this semester. During the 2016-2017 school year, according to Ha, half of the budget is used for events on campus and one fifth on conferences and tournaments; other minor costs include operations and coaching. In the two biggest categories, events and conferences, the major expenses are contractual services, or the invitation, transportation and lodging of guest speakers, food and beverages, event security and supplies.