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Writer Misunderstands Senate Consensus Process
Vance Ricks and Guy Vitaglione
The error that placed Wayne Nash's
letter in the April Fool's Day side of The
Guilfordian was an apt one, yet we would
like to respond to the letter anyway.
Ironically, Nash fails to mention that
all of the points and objections he raises
apply with even greater force to Senate's
decision last year to approve the current
policy (which he helped to create). Both
then and now, some students questioned
the legitimacy of the decision and denied
that consensus had been achieved. Both
then and now, some students claimed that
they lost interest in the debate and felt that
the issue was no longer worth discussing.
Both then and now, some students felt that
their opinions would inevitably be ignored,
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come before the faculty sometime at the
beginning of the fall 1991 semester. If
passed, the freshmen entering Guilford as
early as the fall of 1992 would have to meet
the new requirement.
The proposal offers five ways to meet
the requirement. They are:
• complete a semester or year on an
• complete a semester or year on an off
campus domestic program which offers a
different setting from Guilford's
• complete an internship which places
the student in an environment different
Make Serendipity '9l
Safe and Memorable
To the Editor:
This is an open letter to the Student Body.
Serendipity '9l is just around the corner. This
annual event, planned and organized by the Union, has
become a popular student tradition. The enthusiasm
expressed and shared by the student body and Guilford
alumni is one to be marveled at and enjoyed, as it is
indeed a "fun weekend."
For the most part, the tradition of having a "fun
weekend" is alive and well during Serendipity; how
ever, there is another side which detracts from this
positive spirit. Some students perceive this event as a
traditional time to "let loose" in a way which often
v results in the destruction of campus property, disre
spect for others and difficulties with substance and
We now find that there are students leaving campus
during Serendipity weekend because they no longer
enjoy what should be an all-campus celebration for
everyone. In order to ensure that this annual festivity
and decided to remain silent rather than
express their disagreement
When Nash says that "a majority...
won," he is revealing a profound, and
disturbing, ignorance of consensus deci
sion-making. In consensus, the sense of
the group is what determines the decision;
concepts such as "majority," "factions,"
"battle" and "fighting" express an adver
sarial, confrontational mentality that could
partially explain why it took Senate so
long to resolve the drug policy issue.
Nash is correct when he says that the
new drug policy was not supported by
every senator. It is a truism that no drug
policy will be supported by every single
student But with his years of experience
in Senate and at Guilford, Nash should
have learned the difference between una
nimity and consensus. The decision to
from the student's original home environ
• complete a combination of four semi
nars completed during school breaks
• complete a summer program, either
overseas or domestic, which offers an
experience in a different cultural setting
"I feel fairly optimistic," saidCooley of
the proposal's chances of being approved
by the faculty.
Some have expressed objections to the
plan, however. Physics professor Rex
Adelberger has taken four groups to Ger
many since 1978 and he said he plans to
oppose the proposal.
"There are people who find it hard to
live at Guilford after coming from West
Virginia or New Jersey or wherever," said
Adelberger, speaking about the possibility
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
can continue in the future, we, as a community need to
reassess how we can assure that Serendipity be a more
enjoyable and safe event.
Your elected Union representatives have worked hard
this year to establish new guidelines, policies and proce
dures to enhance the enjoyment, safety and management
of Serendipity '9l. The bands and "happenings" will be
great but only if each Serendipity participant shares in the
desire to uphold community standards for the respect of
persons and property. Talk it over with your roommate,
your friends and ask, "What is your personal commitment
to make Serendipity '9l a safe and memorable event for
Bill Rogers, president; Barton Parks, clerk of the
faculty; Charlie Beery, Union president; Steve
Luber, facilities manager
Tradition Lives On
To the Editor
We would like to thank the members of the Guilford
community who supported the 1991 Student Loan Fund
Auction on March 23. As a result of this year's auction,
revise the drug policy may not have been
unanimous, but the fact that there was
disagreement does not mean that a consen
sus was not reached by the group. Thus,
Nash's claim that "complete consensus"
was not reached is simply incoherent.
The crucial error in Nash's thinking is
indicated with his statement: "Admittedly,
we accepted the policy changes when Ricks
asked for approval by saying nothing, but
we did not approve of the new policy."
Wrong. He not only accepted, but he
approved the policy changes by saying
nothing. Consensus relies on members of
a group to express their views. Since no
one (not even the Senate president) can
read minds, it is vital that participants in a
discussion express their opinions verbally.
If people in the group do indeed feel that a
"stalemate" has been reached, it is their
of sending students abroad who wouldn't
have gone before the mandatory program.
'That's a minor change compared to living
in a rural countryside in Europe."
Adelberger sees two reasons for the drive
for mandatory study off-campus.
"Some folks at Guilford are into 'global
perspective,' and they see this as one way
to [promote it]," he said. "Also, it makes
Guilford sound interesting."
"[The proposal would] distract from the
main thrust of the college—to provide an
A memorandum written by Cooley on
behalf of the Curriculum Task Force said
that to make this proposal possible, Guilford
would need to add as many as three more
professors to compensate for the extra
faculty members spending semesters
THE GUILFORDIAN April 8, 1991
responsibility to help resolve the matter,
not sit passively and complain later.
Nash says that in the "group, of whom
[sic]" he is a member, it was felt "that the
current policy would inevitably be changed,
with or without their [sic] input." This
view is disappointing. Senate has striven
to be an open forum, and during the debate
(which began last September) has repeat
edly sought input, especially from stu
dents who support the current policy. But
if, as Nash claims, "the battle was no
longer worth fighting," then it was cer
tainly not worth writing about, either. We
hope that his letter was more a product of
sour grapes than of reflective thought.
The writers are the current Community
Senate president and future Community
Senate president, respectively
abroad. In addition, the memo said, the
Off Campus Education Office would need
"reorganization," defined as "additional
clerical or administrative assistance or a
"We will have to phase [the program] in
over time [if passed]," said Jim Newlin,
vice president for finance and develop
ment "There are two questions here: 1.
Is there the funding for this proposal, and
2. how high is it on our list of priorities?"
He said that if passed by the faculty, the
proposal would have to go to the Strategic
Long-Range Planning Committee and
possibly the Board of Trustees before being
"We're being very careful in moving,"
said Cooley, "But the support and interest
514,000 has been added to the fund. This money is
available through the Financial Aid Office to students
We hope that student, faculty, administration and
staff will continue to realize the importance of this
Cari Boram, Amy Fox, Doug Griffith, Kady
Judge, Michael Kopcsak, Beth Offenberg, Cronin
Warmack and Ellyn Wells
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