The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Upcoming Student Senate race reflects new senate structure

GVL / Ella McClintock

The Student Senate organization at Grand Valley State University is a group of students from a wide range of majors who work together as the student government for the GVSU community. The student government is composed of 40 senators, each of which serves on one of five committees. Six senators from the body also sit on the Appropriations Funding Board. 

The joint-ticket pair Quinten Proctor and Paris Lawson are the sole candidates for Student Senate president and executive vice president positions as voting opens for students this week after the Student Senate restructuring plan.

Proctor, the current President of Student Senate, said GVSU senators are responsible for bringing student interests to campus administration.  

“The Board of Trustees charges us with being responsible for representing the student body and ensuring that the student voice is heard in University policies,” Proctor said.

According to Proctor, Student Senate works directly with faculty and University administration to make changes and recommendations, along with passing legislation to “recommend policy changes (and) to support different initiatives and developments that are happening on campus.” 

The Student Senate paused legislation in 2023 for restructuring that changed the composition of the senate body and reimagined the function of student government at GVSU. In the State of the Student Senate Address on Jan. 25, the senate announced the passage of restructuring legislation called the Omnibus Bill.

The Omnibus Bill introduced nine proposals regarding visibility, representation and function within the senate. The new model of the organization holds 19 seats for senators to be elected at large by the student body, 15 seats divided between each college at GVSU, four seats for freshman, one seat for an international student and one seat reserved for a graduate student. This model adds to 40 total senators, an entirely different structure then the previous year’s 50-seat model. The Omnibus Bill created also created a judicial branch and a chief of staff position in the senate, and requires that candidates for president and executive vice president run in a joint-ticket.

These changes have caused some sifts in student senate elections because there are different requirements for each seat, as well as different expectations for those who would like to run for student government.

Student Senate President Proctor and Vice President of Diversity Affairs Paris Lawson are running for Student Senate president and executive vice president. Proctor is double majoring in Political Science and International Relations. Lawson is currently majoring in International Relations and minoring in human rights and legal studies.

The two began their campaign on Feb. 10, announced through an Instagram post under the handle of @vote_proctor.lawson. The post explained that the senate’s structure would be slightly different than previous years because the Student Senate President and the Vice President will be directly elected by the students at large instead of by the members of Student Senate, also resulting from the Omnibus Bill. Proctor and Lawson have continued to post to their candidacy Instagram account, explaining their campaign plans along with reminders to vote for them.

GVL / Ella McClintock

Nancy Hoogwerf, the current vice president for allocation, and Magdalyn Hallead, the incumbent executive vice president, were running as president and executive vice president respectively, but suspended their campaign. This leaves the Proctor-Lawson ticket as the sole voting option for those positions.

Both students joined the Student Senate to try and make an impact on their community. Proctor joined the Senate two years ago. He found the Student Senate was a way for him to make a difference on campus and to be a part of a community of people who had similar motivations. Lawson said she joined the Student Senate because she wanted to make sure every voice was heard and was interested in “creating a safe and positive environment on campus.”

If elected, the Proctor-Lawson campaign aims to keep faculty and student involvement in legislation. “We hope to continue advocating for the needs of our diverse student body and collaboratively work with both students and faculty to do so,” Lawson said. 

According to Proctor, the pair will meet with faculty to “ensure the University has the resources and capacity to adequately support all of the students here.”

Proctor and Lawson said they are determined to make the GVSU campus a community where everyone feels at home.

“I would love to begin work to create a more vibrant and energetic campus community,” Proctor said. 

On Monday, March 18, the Student Senate is holding a “Meet the Candidates” event where students will be able to learn more about the specific campaigns of other individuals running for student government. This event will take place in the Kirkhof Center, and attendees will receive a free donut. 

Student Senate has weekly General Assembly meetings every Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in Room 2204 in the Kirkhof Center. Voting for new senators is open from March 18 through March 25. Voting information is available on the Student Senate’s page on the GVSU website. To keep up with the Student Senate race, visit the Student Senate’s Instagram. 

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