2018-2019 student senate adjourns with a final address from President Haas

Photographed by Benjamin Hunt. T.Haas at Student Senate. Thursday April 3rd.

Photographed by Benjamin Hunt. T.Haas at Student Senate. Thursday April 3rd.

McKenna Peariso

It was an emotional general assembly for student senate on April 4. Not only because the weekly meeting featured the final address from GVSU President Thomas J. Haas, but also because it was the final GA with the 2018-2019 body.

“Senate this year has gone on a roller coaster of events,” said Senate President Rachel Jenkin. “Thank you everyone for an amazing year.”

Jenkin, just one of the 12 student senate presidents sworn in by Haas, is part of the handful of senators who are graduating or leaving the body. Both Haas and the many senators preparing for their departure agreed that the opportunities in leadership that senate offers are monumental. During his final address to student senate, Haas highlighted the types of leaders GVSU needs and has continually seen with each senate body.

“Showing up is what it’s all about,” Haas said. “Show up individually, show up collectively and you’re all showing up for the 25,000 students here at Grand Valley State University.”

All senators can agree, showing up and being active is the biggest part of being a GVSU student senator. This effort is needed at weekly GA meetings but also the various events, activities and other committee meetings they must show up for. Throughout his address, Haas highlighted the necessary attribute of leadership and stewardship when serving the GVSU student body.

“Stewardship, leaving GV better than how it was before.” 

The essence of stewardship, or leaving the university better than it was found, is a staple of the work done at student senate, especially so with the exiting 2018-2019 body. These improvements can be seen through the creation of the sexual assault awareness committee, a Lansing trip to request more state funding and even something as minor the placement of a printer in AuSable Hall on Allendale Campus. 

Along with these accomplishments, many resolutions were passed by the 2018-2019 senate body that will likely not see effect for years to come. These include resolutions on creating an income-based meal plan, developing a prayer room on Pew Campus and establishing student voices at GVSU Board of Trustees meetings.

“I have been blessed to work with outstanding student leadership,” Haas said. “Wonderful leaders of leaders here.”

Looking ahead, there’s no doubt that the university is entering a transitional period, especially in terms of leadership. This includes inducting a new senate body, with the final vote to approve next year’s senate’s e-board taking place at the next GA on April 11. Big changes are also coming as President Haas prepares to step down to make way for new GVSU President Philomena Mantella. 

“This Commanding Officer is moving on to let a new one in,” Haas said. “Challenge (Mantella) as you challenged me.”

There were many teary eyes at the assembly, which marked the last for many including Jenkin, vice president Morgan Mattler and Haas himself. Despite the bittersweet end, Haas is excited for the transition and hopes the university will continue on the trajectory he started. As the leadership for senate begins to transcend with the remaining school year, those leaving the body are thankful for the memories.

“I spent every Thursday in this room and it’s such a rewarding experience,” Mattler said. “This senate year has been unlike any other but this group really made the best of it.”

“Thank you from me, the cabinet, and everybody for all of your hard work.”