Fall Plenary Inspires Debate and Discussion

The student body convened last Sunday for Plenary, a long-standing Haverford tradition, to contribute to the future of the College.

On Sunday, Nov. 5, Haverford’s student body convened in the Douglas B. Gardner ’83 Integrated Athletic Center (GIAC) for the fall 2023 iteration of Plenary. A meeting of the entire student body, Plenary is a critical aspect of student self-governance at Haverford, as it provides students with the opportunity to propose meaningful resolutions for the entire community to vote on. These resolutions can range from redistribution of school funds to changes within the school’s Honor Code.

In order for Plenary to begin, quorum must be reached with two-thirds of the current student body must be present to listen to and vote on resolutions. While waiting for students to trickle into the GIAC, two student dance groups, Bounce and HaverRitmo, performed. By the time they had concluded, at approximately 2:30 p.m., quorum was reached, and the meeting began.

Students’ Council Co-Presidents Jorge Paz Reyes ’24 and Maria Reyes Pacheco ’24 delivered the State of the Ford address, highlighting what the council has been working toward during the first two months of the fall semester and its plans for the rest of the year. They then passed the microphone to the student body for a period of community comment, an opportunity for students and student groups to speak directly to the whole campus at once. This year, students representing Bi-Co Mutual Aid, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Haverford College Democrats, the Committee for Environmental Responsibility, and the Haverford College Art Collective gave brief addresses. 

Following community comments, the student body voted to approve the rules of order and the agenda, allowing the presentation of student resolutions to begin. First, the current Community Outreach Multicultural Liaisons (COMLs) presented a resolution to change the election procedure for future COMLs, which quickly passed without debate. Reyes and Pacheco then presented a resolution that sought to revitalize the Students’ Council constitution, including adding things that had been previously removed, such as the annual facilities funny, altering election procedures, and clarifying the roles of multiple student roles. This resolution, too, passed with over 66% of the student body’s vote.

The third resolution for the day, presented by Oliver Wilson ’26, called for raising student wages to match the minimum wages of Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore colleges and to match inflation. The increase would be implemented gradually over the next three years, with a final goal of raising the minimum wage to $16 per hour by the 2026-27 academic year. Students proposed questions relating to faculty wages and work-study, and the resolution received abundant support during the pro-con phase of the debate. Eventually, the resolution was passed unanimously by the student body.

Ratification of the Alcohol Policy, presented by the Joint Student Administration Alcohol Policy co-heads, was the final item on the Plenary docket. The policy reaffirms the responsible use of alcohol on campus and serves as a written agreement between students and administration about the students’ responsibilities to do so.

With the policy’s successful passage, Plenary concluded, having only taken two hours total due to the quick reaching of quorum and efficient debate and voting. To celebrate the success, Dough Heads Waffles brought a truck to campus, providing treats for Plenary attendees.

Read the full Plenary transcript.