Home Education Mandatory contact information creates debate among Student Senate members

Mandatory contact information creates debate among Student Senate members

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Feminism and mandatory student emergency contact information were the main topics discussed by Student Senate members Wednesday evening.

College of Arts and Sciences Senator Emily Burns, Women Affairs Commissioners Emma Wright and LGBT Affairs Vice Commissioner Hannah Dunn opened the meeting with the “This is what an OU feminist looks like” poster campaign. The campaign is promoted through the OU Women’s Center in hopes of changing the stereotype of who feminists are.

The three women encouraged fellow senate members who may identify as feminists to get their picture taken for a poster composed of students, faculty and staff.

“Being a feminist is for everyone,” said Burns as she encouraged members to participate in her cause.

Feminism sometimes has a negative connotation to it and the three senators are attempting to break the barrier.

“The feminist stigma sucks. We aren’t bra-burning, man-hating socialists,” said Wright.

All three women gave their personal definition of what a feminist is and proposed the idea that certain people may be feminists and not even know it.

Feminists who would like to have their picture taken must sign a release form as the poster will be places all around campus, displaying a diverse group of people.

The second issue discussed Wednesday night was the possibility of making emergency contact information mandatory for every student at Ohio University.

“With the house fire at Palmer Fest last year, parents calling about their student potentially thinking about suicide and other critical situations, something needs to be put into place to find a student or contact their parents,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi, who supported the issue. “Every school I have been at over the past 15 years has made this a requirement. [OU] seems to be an anomaly.”

The university has records of all students living on campus. Therefore, this issue most directly affects students living off-campus. Information looking to be collected includes current cell phone number, email address, street address and parental contact information.

Student who live off campus have been at OU for either three or almost four years. Even though emergency contact information changes, most students forget to update that information after leaving the residence halls.

“When we lose a member of the Bobcat community, it sure hurts all of us. If implementing this change saves at least one life, I think it’s worth it,” said Treasurer Evan Ecos.

Questions were flying around the Senate floor in regards to the topic. Members discussed concerns about “big brother;” who would be able to access the information and the liability issue.

As of now, the university has no way to force OU students to give proper contact information in case of an emergency. With or without emergency contact information, OU is held liable for the safety and well-being of its students. If something were to happen to a student and a parent wanted to sue the institution for incorrectly handling it, they could.

Lombardi and Jennifer Hall-Jones, assistant dean of student affairs, are encouraging this change to be implemented, not only to prevent legal situations but also to promote the best outcome for every bad situation.

“There is an assumption that the university knows all the contact information about every student and the issue is that we don’t,” said Hall-Jones.

The ‘big brother’ concern was brought up multiple times, as it is the main argument against implementing this change. An example of the university misusing information, brought up by a senate member, was during the election season: the Obama campaign somehow got a hold of all OU students’ email addresses to send advertisements to them.

Lombardi assured senate members that only immediate university faculty would have access to this information and that outside sources such as OUPD would have specific parameters as to what information they would be able to see.

“I encourage you, go home, ask questions about it and think it over before we debate it and vote on it at the next meeting,” said Ecos.





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