How Oberlin Works

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Although far less extensive than the administrative structure of Oberlin, the study body has its own government to represent it to the administration and faculty, distribute the Student Activity Fund, sponsor campus programs, enforce the Honor Code, and handle many other responsibilities. Student Senate represents the student body to Oberlin’s administration and faculty and interviews and appoints members of the student body to faculty committees and other sections of student government. The structure of student government is laid out in the constitution of student government, approved by the student body and General Faculty in 1997, and presently published annually in the Student Regulations, Policies and Responsibilities. The constitution sets out the purpose, responsibilities, and structure of Student Senate, the Student Finance Committee, Forum Board, and appointment policies for Judicial/Community Board, the Student Honor Committee, and Student Union Board. Students work with faculty members to evaluate disciplinary infractions and honor code violations; these are evaluated by Judicial Board and the Student Honor Committee respectively.

In addition to the structures through which the student body governs itself, Oberlin has many opportunities for students to help make decisions that affect the entire institution. The primary means for doing so is filling student seats on faculty committees. Since faculty are responsible for curricular policy, students are encouraged to add their input by joining faculty committees. Student Senate appoints members of the student body to faculty committees; additionally, all senators are required to serve on at least one committee per semester. The responsibilities and commitments of the faculty committees vary drastically, as well as the direct impact on students—the College’s Educational Plans and Policies Committee meets weekly and demands a major time commitment, and the Student Life committee is charged with keeping in touch with current student issues on campus. Other committees, such a Benefits, do not concern students, and therefore do not have student seats.

Many majors also have major representatives or majors’ committees that help faculty get student feedback, plan departmental events, and assist in gathering student feedback for hiring and tenure evaluations.