New faces on Student Senate

GVL / Laine Girard
President Ricardo L. Benavidez, along with fellow cabinet members, are happy and excited for the new year, the new semester and their new members.

Laine Girard

GVL / Laine Girard President Ricardo L. Benavidez, along with fellow cabinet members, are happy and excited for the new year, the new semester and their new members.

Claire Fodell

No resolutions were discussed or voted on at Thursday’s Student Senate meeting, but Grand Valley State University’s Pere Marquette Room was still buzzing with positive energy as the body appointed eight new members and talked about the progress to be made this semester.

Senate President Ricardo Benavidez said he is hopeful that this semester, his last in the position, will be an extension of the work the senate started last semester. He plans for the senators to keep up with their progress in religious inclusiveness on campus and strengthen the relationship between the graduate and undergraduate student population.

Along with these projects, Benavidez said he hopes to work more on the fall break resolution that was shut down by the University Academic Senate last semester.

“It’s an important issue for students, so we don’t want to just give up. They said no once, but we’ve kind of opened the door to more possibilities with the faculty,” he said.

Benavidez also said he plans to keep up the progress of the physical changes on campus and work to ensure the campus reflects the needs of the students.

“There are a lot of issues that we’ve been running into especially with new construction on campus, just making sure that the new construction is up to par with what the students expect with accessibility,” he said.

In addition, the senate will be making sure new construction adheres to the requirements for more gender-neutral restrooms, which was mandated in a resolution passed last semester.

Also during the meeting, the senate appointed new members to fill empty committee seats.

“The longer somebody’s on the body, the more progress they can make, so I’m really excited that a lot of our new senators are young, and I’m looking forward to what they can bring this semester and hopefully into the future,” Benavidez said.

Cameron Saghaiepour and Mackenzie Butler were appointed to the Diversity Affairs Committee, while the Public Relations Committee gained Craig Harris and Mackenzie O’Neil.

O’Neil, a freshman and a film major at GVSU, said she is eager to start work in her new position.

“I’m just excited to help plan events,” she said.

Along with planning events, O’Neil hopes the skills she learns in the classroom will help her find a creative way to spread awareness about the senate.

“I’m not sure if they have a highlight video that they do or something that could be posted on the website, but I think that would be really interesting just so that people could see a little bit behind the scenes of what senate does,” O’Neil said.

In addition, Jake Bax was appointed to the Finance Committee, David Inda joined the Educational Affairs Committee, and Reuben Peck and Terrell Couch filled two spots on the Political Affairs Committee.

The new senators will replace many of those who left their positions at the end of last semester because of scheduling conflicts or graduation. Some last-minute scheduling conflicts have caused a few more empty seats in the senate, but Vice President for Senate Resources Danielle Meirow said the spots will be filled soon.