Selecting leadership

GVL / Courtesy Tyler Ziola
Student Senate Elect

GVL / Courtesy Tyler Ziola Student Senate Elect

Alex Sinn

The newly-elected Grand Valley State University Student Senate held its first assembly Thursday to elect new cabinet members for the 2015-16 school year.

These positions included president, executive vice president and vice presidents for each of the seven senate committees.

Madelaine Cleghorn, former vice president of external affairs, was elected the new Student Senate president, with 100 percent confidence from the senate body.

Cleghorn said her leadership in senate stems from her passion for GVSU’s role in the community.

“Part of the reason I am so passionate about the success of GVSU is because I can see its potential to be an invaluable asset to the local and state community, and hopefully someday in the national and international community,” she said.

Next year, the senate aims to get the student body more involved and to improve the campus environment.

“I hope that collectively as a senate, we are able to create a campus where every student feels included and engaged,” Cleghorn said.

Some means of achieving these goals include continued dialogue about sexual assault and social justice, new campus events and leadership development opportunities and more participation in traditions, she said.

Cleghorn said she intends for the momentum from last year’s senate to continue, and she hopes to make improvements internally and externally.

“I hope to strengthen the body by increasing transparency between cabinet and the whole senate, as well as take on cross-committee projects,” she said.

Improvements also include reaching out to the student body and helping them be more aware of Student Senate, she said.

“I also want to reach as many students as possible, so they know senate exists as a resource for them,” she said.

One way that Student Senate is a resource for students is through its funding of student organizations.

Jeremy Turnbull was elected vice president of the finance committee, which is responsible for handling and allocating those funds. In his speech before the senate, he stressed the responsibility of handling so much money.

“We are given $1.2 million, which is more than the average American makes in 24 years,” he said.

The finance committee is more than a body that works with numbers, he said; it’s about bringing students’ ideas to life.

“We are more than that,” he said. “We also make these peoples’ ideas – their dreams – reality.”

Turnbull said he wanted to lead the committee because he is passionate about finance.

“I have the desire, the ambition and the vision to improve, to really bring finance forward,” he said.

Lawrence Williams, vice president-elect of the Student Senate resources committee, said senate can help other GVSU organizations work on their goals, as well as its own.

“Senate can not only work on itself, but I would like to assist and advise organizations on infrastructure and provide mediation to constitutional roles,” he said.

Williams, now in his fourth year on Student Senate, has previously sat on the finance and external relations committees. He said that he hopes to make senate a better resource for students.

“One of my top priorities for next year would be to amplify the voice of students through Student Senate,” he said.

The full list of the Student Senate cabinet positions and the names of the newly-elected officials includes:

President – Madelaine Cleghorn

Executive Vice President – Jorden Simmonds

Vice President for Senate Resources – Lawrence Williams

Vice President for Finance – Jeremy Turnbull

Vice President for Campus Affairs – Sean O’Melia

Vice President for Educational Affairs – Maria Beelen

Vice President for Diversity Affairs – Mackenzie Butler

Vice President for External Relations – Matthew Bogden

Vice President for Public Relations – Ella Fritzemeier