Student senate votes on faculty awards

GVL /Matt Read Student Senate meets on Thursday November 13th, 2017. They opened with discussing their social media outreach.

GVL /Matt Read Student Senate meets on Thursday November 13th, 2017. They opened with discussing their social media outreach.

Anne Marie Smit

At its general assembly on Thursday, Dec. 7, Grand Valley State University’s student senate gathered to vote on the Student Award for Faculty Excellence (SAFE) and the Laker of the Year award. Guest speakers Kristen Evans and Sue Korzinek also addressed the assembly. 

Each year, GVSU students nominate faculty for the SAFE award, which recognizes professors who go above and beyond for their students both in the classroom and individually.

Vice President Dan Ziegenfelder read students’ personal statements for each of the nominated professors, and then some senators discussed their personal experiences with the professors. 

The majority vote for the SAFE award was for David Clark, assistant professor of mathematics. Senator Carly Aller spoke about Clark’s teaching style and how it has impacted her learning experience.

“He’s one of the best professors I’ve ever had in my life,” Aller said. “He has a different style of teaching, so it’s not just based on tests. You can retake anything, basically. So you can (redo) your homework to get the grade you want. So, really, in his class you get the grade you put into it. He has surrounded his whole career on this teaching style, which is revolutionary. 

“I really enjoy my classes with him, and he definitely deserves this award.”

For the Laker of the Year award, the majority voted for John Martin, associate professor and director of the Concert Band, the University Band and athletic bands. Senator Cameron Jones said Martin is deserving of the award because of the scholarships he has started to help students pay for their tuition.

“The fact that he started scholarships to pay for students’ education, the fact that they can be at this school because of him, I’m going to be voting for him,” Jones said. “Starting scholarships, to me, it’s the best thing to do because (otherwise) poor students wouldn’t be college-bound.”

Guest speaker Evans, assistant director of recruitment and training in housing, addressed the assembly about resident assistants (RA) at GVSU. She spoke about student experiences at GVSU compared to other colleges and universities.

“What we know from our research is that the students at Grand Valley are very happy with the facilities, they generally feel very safe on campus, and they feel like there are a lot of services and resources available to them compared to peer institutions,” Evans said. “What we do find, however, is that students at Grand Valley tend to be more homesick and feel less of a feeling of engagement and belonging than students at peer institutions.”

Evans said one of the roles of an RA is to help combat student loneliness on campus by keeping students engaged in community activities.

“One of the primary roles of an RA is to ensure that everybody that is living with us feels a sense of engagement and belonging as a community,” Evans said. “The No. 1 job is to make sure that students aren’t just going to their room, going to class, going to their room, going to class. We want them really embedded in the culture at Grand Valley.”

Evans then announced that RA applications for next year are open and due on Wednesday, Dec. 20. She asked the senate to encourage their friends and classmates to apply for an RA position. 

From there, Korzinek, the associate vice president and chief information officer for information technology at GVSU, spoke about the initiation of “myName” on Banner starting in February 2018. 

“We’ve been after the vendor, the student information systems, to do this since 2005,” Korzinek said. “I’m going to say that I believe the transgender issues actually pushed the vendor, finally, into offering something like this. 

“Besides the transgender reasons, there are other reasons. There are people who might be married who want to use their maiden name, pen names, nicknames, all kinds of reasons. I think it’s a great opportunity.”

Student senate will not meet next week or during break. The next general assembly will be Thursday, Jan. 11, at 4:30 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center Pere Marquette Room.