Student Senate offers recommendations for panther statue location, updated on BLM flag petition

Analicia Haynes, Editor-in-Chief

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The Student Senate heard an update regarding the Black Lives Matter flag petition and offered their recommendations on the possible relocation of the panther statue.

When it comes to the petition, Alicia Matusiak, the student vice president of student affairs, said there is only so much the Student Senate can do, and what they can do is recommend whether or not the Senate offers their support for the flag based on what the best interest of the student body is.

This recommendation comes in the form of a resolution that the senate discusses and then votes on, but it is up to the university administration and Eastern President David Glassman whether or not a flag is hoisted on campus in the South Quad.

Matusiak apologized that the process was taking longer than expected, but she said she wanted to talk to as many sources as possible who have knowledge on the topic, get as many opinions as possible to make sure the senate makes an educated vote and she wanted senators to talk to as many students as possible.

This is so it ensures that the student senators will not vote based on their own opinions and instead will have an idea of what the student body thinks.

As of right now, Matusiak said she and other senators have already talked to Lynette Drake, the interim vice president of Student Affairs, Jessica Ward, the assistant director of the Office of Student Standards, coordinator for gender and sexual diversity and is on the diversity committee.

She also said she is rescheduling a meeting with Mona Davenport, the executive director of the Office of Inclusion and Academic Engagement and will meet with Shawn Peoples, the Title IX coordinator.

Matusiak said she is doing her due diligence to make sure she has enough information and meets with the appropriate people and looks at the big picture before bringing a resolution to senate.

She said ultimately the Student Senate wants the campus to be inclusive and show diversity while making sure the campus remains safe and considers everyone’s best interest.

She also said she and other senators are looking to see if there are other ways of showing diversity and inclusiveness.

Matusiak said she plans to have a discussion at the next Student Senate meeting and invited Morgan Colvin, who helped start the petition, to give a presentation at the next meeting.

So far, the petition has 408 signatures.

Zac Cohen, the acting speaker of the senate and executive vice president, updated senators on the process of possibly relocating the panther statue from its planned location of the Library Quad to the Commemorative Courtyard (between the Triad and McAfee Gym).

Cohen said the statue is currently in storage, and after meeting with Glassman and Paul McCann, the interim vice president of business affairs, the proposal is to move the statue in front of the courtyard, facing the Library Quad.

Cohen said when a location is finally determined, the statue will stand on a concrete slab. The university is expected to pay for whatever costs might come up from placing the statue.

Cohen asked senators for their opinions, and Student Body President Rebecca Cash recommended that they place the statue directly in the middle of the courtyard.

Nia Douglas, the chair for the student affairs committee, agreed that the statue should be closer to the middle of the courtyard, maybe not in the middle where plants currently are, but in front of that.

Cohen said he will take the recommendations to Glassman, and McCann and will present the final details at the next senate meeting.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].