Students sitting in the bleachers applaud during plenary. Photo by Logan de Raspide Ross '23.

Campus Gathers for Fall 2022 Plenary Meeting

At the biannual student body meeting, students debated, voted, and discussed how best to shape Haverford for the future.

On Sunday, Oct. 23, hundreds of Haverford students gathered in the Douglas B. Gardner ‘83 Integrated Athletic Center (GIAC) for the fall 2022 edition of Plenary. Plenary is a Haverford tradition that takes place once per semester, and is the primary method of student self-government at the College. Students propose resolutions–ranging from reallocation of school funding to amendments to the Honor Code–for the entire student body to vote on. If a resolution is passed at Plenary, it is taken as the will of the collective student body, and Students’ Council is tasked with carrying it out by collaborating with administration and managing funds.

For Plenary to begin, quorum must be met, which means two-thirds of the student body must be in attendance–which, for this most recent session, meant 934 students needed to be present. Prior to Plenary beginning, Philly Pretzel Factory was available and two student dance groups—Bounce and Twist—performed to provide entertainment and help encourage attendance to reach quorum. Similar to last year’s Plenary meetings, the in-person meeting in the GIAC was supplemented by a Zoom webinar, which allowed for remote attendance. With hundreds of students attending using both avenues, quorum was quickly reached within a half hour of the 2 p.m. opening of the meeting.

After the State of the Ford address, delivered by Students’ Council Co-Presidents Rasaaq Shittu ‘23 and Lisette Pham ‘23, and a passage of the rules of order, presentation of student-drafted resolutions began. Anyone is eligible to submit a resolution about any topic, but only resolutions with 200 signatures are accepted for presentation at Plenary. Resolutions pertaining to the Alcohol Policy, Students’ Constitution, and Plenary Rules of Order require a two-thirds majority to pass, while all other resolutions only require a simple one-half majority.

There were five resolutions presented by different students and student groups at Sunday’s Plenary. Three of them passed: one presented by members of Active Minds, a club advocating for mental health awareness, for an expansion of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), one expanding a 2016 resolution affirming the College’s commitment to protecting non-U.S. citizens and religious minorities, and one proposing universal access to dorm buildings via OneCards be restored. Resolutions advocating raising the necessary threshold to pass all resolutions to over two-thirds and an amendment to the campus poster policy did not pass.

The day ended with a re-ratification of the Student Alcohol Policy, the agreement between the students and administration about the student’s responsibilities with alcohol use on campus. Its passage concluded Plenary, which had taken until the evening due to the large number of resolutions and spirited debate inspired by each one.