After a full week of uncertainty regarding the selection of a replacement for former At-Large Rep. Olamide Williams ‘10, Student Assembly President Rammy Salem ‘10 announced at yesterday’s S.A. meeting that the vacant seat would be filled by former University Assembly Rep. Andrew Brokman ‘11 — and so the meeting began with Brokman’s Oath of Office.
Although it was only his first official day in office, Brokman was active in yesterday’s meeting, as he proposed a resolution adding a non-discrimination clause to the Student Activities Offices’ contract for independent student organizations. Brokman has been intimately involved in the U.A.’s recent efforts to pass a non-discrimination clause.
“‘Change is already happening in the U.A., and the U.A. controls the Campus Code of Conduct. By the next U.A. meeting they’ll probably be passing a new clause to the campus code . They’ll be voting on a resolution that will add a harassment discrimination clause to the campus code,”‘ said Brokman. “‘So the U.A. is passing some kind of campus code but it won’t do everything we need.”‘
Because of his involvement in the U.A.’s non-discrimination resolution, Brokman realized that further legislation was in order.
“‘After we [initially] passed that [U.A.] resolution we realized we hadn’t gone after what we’d set out to, because you can’t really legislate what goes on in an independent student organization in the campus code,”‘ said Brokman. “‘It is under the legislative authority of the S.A. to deal with these policies [because] this affects independent student organizations and you cannot do that on the campus code level.”‘
After consulting the contract governing independent student organization, Brokman determined that “‘the language was old in terms of who they protect from discrimination,”‘ which prompted him to draft the S.A. Non-Discrimination Resolution.
He explained the differences between this resolution and the U.A.’s non-discrimination resolution.
“‘I mirrored the language that’s in [Campus Code of Conduct] policy 6.4, which is the code we used to model the [Codes and Judicial Committee] resolution [but] I added a sentence which delineates between those organizations that are democratic and those that are not,”‘ said Brokman.
“‘The [U.A.’s] non-discrimination clause protected classes [of people] in terms of saying they should be guaranteed membership [in student organizations] but it didn’t really say what the rights of members are in independent student organizations, so we added a sentence that says that student organization members should be able to run in [their organization’s] elections and to keep their [elected] positions despite any revelations about their sexuality. It’s neutral in form in that it doesn’t attack those organization’s that don’t choose to elect their membership.”‘
Reverend Kenneth L. Clarke, director of Cornell United Religious Works, expressed his approval.
“‘I salute the S.A. for trying to close this … I believe the day will come when constitutionally gay rights will rise to the level of what the [assemblyman] tells us,”‘ said Clarke.
Although Resolution 44 seemed to have popular support within the S.A., the legislation will not see a vote until next week’s S.A. meeting.
Salem ‘10 proposed another major resolution during yesterday’s meeting — Resolution 46, which would make Cornell’s currently mandatory swimming test optional. He argued that the original purpose of the swim test was no longer relevant because, “‘basically it was necessary to be able to swim to be a proper young lady, so originally this was for ladies.”‘ Though the test was later extended to include males during the second World War, Salem said that its continued existence was unnecessary and arbitrary. “‘People may be arachnophobic but they’re not made [by the University] to get over spiders,”‘ he said.
Salem also pointed out that the danger of drowning is only one of many dangers students face and he said, “‘There are much more likely dangers [such as] intentional self-harm yet we don’t require people to attend counseling; assault, yet we don’t require students to take self defense course; car accidents, yet we don’t require people to take driving safety classes.”‘
“‘I’m not in favor of completely eliminating the swim test, just making it optional,”‘ Salem said. There was some dissension regarding the resolution, however.
“‘If it’s optional there’s no incentive to do it if you’re on the fence other than tradition,”‘ said Chris Basil ‘10, vice president for finance. “‘Making it optional is essentially eliminating it without admitting that you’re eliminating it.”‘
Ultimately the resolution was tabled for future discussion at next week’s meeting.