Accomplishments and aspirations

GVL / Emily Frye  
Student Senate President Andrew Plague and Executive Vice President Emma Moulton

GVL / Emily Frye Student Senate President Andrew Plague and Executive Vice President Emma Moulton

The Grand Valley State University Student Senate has wrapped up another busy semester. Senators are now taking time to reflect on what has been accomplished this fall and are already looking ahead to what they hope to accomplish in the winter.

Andrew Plague, Student Senate president, said he is proud of the work he and his fellow senators have done to create meaningful relationships with campus administrators, who have played important roles in this semester’s achievements.

Plague highlighted Rainesha Williams-Fox, the vice president for diversity affairs, for her accomplishments reviewing the recommendations from the gender identity and expression committee and Wendy Wenner, the acting university vice president for inclusion and equity.

“Rainesha has been particularly instrumental in helping to draft a trans-inclusive club sports policy,” Plague said.

Another of the senate’s noteworthy actions, Plague said, was the decision to increase funds for graduate student organizations and student academic research and travel. He worked closely with Jorden Simmonds, the Student Senate vice president for finance.

“We were fortunate to have the funds for student academic research and travel matched by the Provost’s Office,” Plague said. “Thanks to Jordan’s diligence, we were able to make this rare mid-year increase that will help serve some unmet needs.”

Emma Moulton, Student Senate vice president, said she is most proud of the student-driven conversation regarding the need for sidewalks on 48th Avenue and other locations in the campus community.

“I’m really proud of the leadership our campus affairs and external relations committees showed in addressing that issue this semester, especially after several students were injured in accidents,” Moulton said. “They worked really hard to make sure that the student voice was heard both by Allendale (Charter Township) and the university.”

Moulton added that the campus affairs committee is working with facilities to improve outdoor lighting on campus, which is an important topic related to campus safety.

Although the senate has accomplished much, Plague acknowledged that they still have work to do to address the big issues on campus, such as sexual assault and the price of textbooks.

Sexual assault, Plague said, is a topic that many people are becoming more comfortable discussing. However, there is still a need to raise awareness.

“I am reassured by the work administrators are doing to make sure that as an institution, we address this issue properly,” he said. “Next semester, I hope we can do more to talk about consent and what it means to be an active bystander. We all have a role to play in changing the culture and keeping each other safe.”

He added that the senate will continue to work on how to “bridge the gap between administration and students on issues of major concern, such as sexual violence and campus safety.”

The senate is also hoping to help students with rising tuition costs.

Most students know how difficult it can be to pay for a college education. Skyrocketing tuition and high costs for required texts do not make life easier.

Plague said GVSU can help students make their education more affordable by donating to the senate-created Student Legacy Scholarship, which provides money for students from other students. Another method is to contact those in government about increasing funding for college.

“Under the leadership of Vice President Scott St. Louis, our educational affairs committee has been working to bring attention to open textbooks and more affordable textbooks,” Plague said. “They will continue to put pressure on professors to adopt more cost-friendly materials for their courses.”

The senate is continuing its work to create a prayer and meditation space on campus for people of all faiths or non-faiths. Next semester, Plague said he will meet with students of various religious traditions to discuss creating a temporary space until a long-term solution is created.

In addition, Plague said he will continue his collaboration with John Berry, executive director and founder of Design West Michigan, on the new GVSU design thinking initiative.

For more information or to contact the Student Senate, visit