Student senate holds first general assembly of 2018

GVL / Sheila Babbitt
Students discuss topics in their small groups at the Student Senate meeting on January 11th, 2017.

GVL / Sheila Babbitt Students discuss topics in their small groups at the Student Senate meeting on January 11th, 2017.

Karina Lloyd

The Grand Valley State University student senate convened Thursday, Jan. 11, for its first general assembly of the semester. The evening’s agenda included two guest speakers from the university, a public comment period, president and vice president reports and a working general assembly session. 

Guest speaker Bobby Springer, director of the Pathways to College Office, discussed the plans for the campus’ Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Week. He urged students to look at their day off as an opportunity for celebration and student involvement. 

“(This is) a day on, not a day off,” Springer said. “Do we have the day off so students can sleep in and do whatever they want and come back to school the next day? No. We have the day ‘on’ so students can get engaged with this meaningful working going on on campus, … so we can engage in the work of Dr. King.” 

Felix Ngassa, professor of chemistry and chair of the University Academic Senate, also spoke at the general assembly to discuss the role he plays at the university and answer questions from attendees.

The session’s public comment period brought the senate’s attention to two student organizations: The bystander intervention program Peer Education and Prevention (P.E.P.) Talks, in which trained GVSU students educate their peers about sexual assault prevention, and the Student Veterans Association, which was represented at the general assembly to inform the senate of the organization’s ongoing activity.

Following the president’s and vice president’s reports, the senate split off into groups to create a “working general assembly” in which they addressed possible scenarios they may face in the coming year, analyzed past and future projects, and studied a series of headlines.

“This week we are trying to start the semester a little more involved,” said Jonathan Bowman, student senate president. “We’ve broken up into seven (randomly selected) groups with one person from each (of the seven student) committees. They’re just going to be brainstorming different projects they could work on for the school year, different incentives that they might want to partner with other senators on.”

For one of the activities, senators were asked to think of ways to handle different on-campus issues or scenarios.

“We have some different scenarios we want the groups to work through and (decide) how student senate (should) respond,” Bowman said. “It may be a different issue on campus: … If a student organization had (a) huge concern and they want senate to do something, how would we react? How would we get involved and make sure the situation was handled correctly?”

Though this is not a usual practice during general assembly, members thought it was an important practice to begin the new semester with. The exercises allowed the senate members to work on their problem-solving skills to be able to work with people outside their own committees and prepare the senate for the semester’s work ahead. 

“We’re hoping it starts to get some ideas flowing,” Bowman said. “I don’t think people realize how effective working together can be, and also I think student senate has a lot of things that we can accomplish if we work toward (our goals) and work together to accomplish (these) things. 

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