Student senate creates petition for state funds

GVL / Hannah Hill
Scott Richardson presented with others at the student senate meeting on Thursday, January 25, 2017.

GVL / Hannah Hill Scott Richardson presented with others at the student senate meeting on Thursday, January 25, 2017.

Sarah Hollis

The agenda for the Grand Valley State University student senate’s general assembly on Thursday, Jan. 25, covered several issues. Five students were appointed to fill spots on senate committees; a petition for more state funding for GVSU was discussed; and senators were encouraged to complete 10 Outreach, Research and Engagement forms (OREs) in the next two weeks.  

The petition is an initiative aimed at drawing more attention to GVSU’s comparative lack of funding with other Michigan universities.

“We garnered up a bunch of other schools because higher education advocacy is a huge topic among all schools, and we came together and realized that we need to work together as universities to make this happen,” said Julian VanDaele, a senator on the external relations committee. “We created this petition, which outlines specific demands that we are going to give the Michigan legislature as they take the budget through that process and make their decision on whether or not to give higher education more money.” 

The petition also allowed student senate to be able to amplify the voices of GVSU students.

“State funding is something that we really need every student’s help and support with,” said Jonathan Bowman, student senate president. “It’s something we’ve been working on for a few years now as senate. We’ve written letters to Lansing, we’ve done a lot in the past, but really, we need as many students to support it as possible. President Haas has said that he will reduce tuition if we get a certain percentage increase, so that’s something that he has stood behind. 

“If we can really make sure that we’re lobbying our representatives, our state senators and state representatives to increase funding to Grand Valley, it could really affect our tuition, and I think students really need to know that.”

Other business included appointing senators to various committees. Only one senate committee has space remaining after five newly appointed students took seats on Thursday. These students will not be able to participate in senate votes but will be able to speak at general assembly. 

Brian Bialowas was appointed to the diversity affairs committee; Shayanna Schut was appointed to the external relations committee; Alexander Samosiuk was appointed to the public relations committee; and Anna Szalay and Ashley Oerman were appointed to the educational affairs committee. 

Those interested in joining the senate and sitting on any of these committees will have the opportunity to run for election beginning at the end of March. 

“We want people that are passionate about Grand Valley, that have ideas of how to improve campus and make things better,” Bowman said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. It’s also good if you’re involved; you don’t have to be, but if you have different people that you can talk to about concerns that students may have, or just be open to reaching out to students in different ways. 

“We really want people that really want it and really want to put forth the time because senate is whatever you make of it. A lot of people are surprised by what they can accomplish when they put in the time and the commitment to it.”

In addition to encouraging students to sign the petition to make their voices heard, the senators will also be completing OREs in the next two weeks. The goal of the OREs is to make sure that students have the opportunity to share any ideas or concerns they may have with GVSU. 

“I think people are really surprised when they join student senate about how hard it is to reach out to new students,” Bowman said. “I’ve been on senate for a few years now, and every year you hear a lot of the same ideas—and a lot of the same concerns—from students, which are great, but you hear those a lot from the same people.

“We’re trying to reach out to different groups, to people that we haven’t spoken to, just so that we can make sure that we’re best representing the students. Hopefully through OREs we can reach an even greater amount of students.”

Morgan Mattler, chair of the public relations committee, also said that OREs exist to make positive changes on behalf of students.

“It’s very important for students to be receptive with OREs,” Mattler said. “If they’re not, that’s totally fine, but a big goal of OREs is to really get that student opinion, get that student interest, and really try to attack that as best as we can and help our surrounding student body. We’re here for them, so we really want them to be receptive with us. Be on the lookout for student senators. 

“If someone approaches you, feel free to really engage in a great conversation. We’re all here for our students, and we care. We really do. We want to make the best changes here possible for our students.”

Student senate meets in the Pere Marquette Room of the Kirkhof Center at 4:30 p.m. every Thursday.