GV Student Senate: What’s next?

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GVL / Josh Alburtus

Joshua Alburtus, Staff Writer

As students and staff return for another semester at Grand Valley State University, the campus community’s Student Senate is preparing to take action and return to legislating.

Coming off the heels of the fall 2021 semester in which the Senate investigated issues from Open Educational Resources (OER) to the university’s latest tuition hike, new initiatives are coming into play. 

This semester, its legislative arms are gearing up for further outreach into the campus community.

Vice President for Public Relations, Eldon Pearson, said the various committees will also be collaborating on hosting events and promoting Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Black History Month and Women’s Month.

While various senators and committees resume their work, Senate leadership is aiming for collaborative action of its own.

“President (Autumn) Mueller will also be hosting a past Presidents panel discussion with former Student Senate Presidents about Student Senate, work that has been done, what can still be done, etc.,” Pearson said.

Changes within the university’s administration will also come into play as the Senate continues to work in tandem with officials. 

While still on the lookout for a new Provost, the university has hired Jennifer Hall-Jones as its first Vice President for Student Affairs. The move signals an attempt to amplify student voices in university considerations. 

According to the university website, Hall-Jones will work in part to bring student concerns to the forefront within the administration. This means that the new position will likely work closely with the Student Senate and is striking an optimistic tone amongst its members. 

“We are also enthusiastic to be working with the new Provost and Vice President of Student Affairs,” Pearson said.

In addition to future plans, the senate’s agenda will also include actions and discussions surrounding ongoing campus concerns. A priority set by the senate at the end of last semester is one that has proven to be a persistent topic for the senate’s current administration: campus dining.

Prior to adjourning for the fall 2021 semester, the senate agreed on a preliminary action plan to tackle the months-long concerns raised by students over the university’s campus dining situation and GVSU’s affiliation with the food service company, Aramark. 

A statement from the full senate to the campus community as well as a memorandum from Mueller to university administration were approved in Nov. 2021 and are expected to be drafted in the coming weeks.

The senate’s plan is in response to a multitude of public comments from concerned students. With the new semester now arriving, senate officials are seeking to put that plan into action.

“Over the next semester, Student Senate will be mobilizing and sending a request for action to appropriate university officials and departments regarding the various campus dining concerns,” Pearson said. 

To learn more about the activity of the Senate’s individual committees and their plans for the new semester, students and staff are welcome to attend the Senate Cabinet’s “State of the Student Body” on Thursday Jan. 27 from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. Information regarding the event’s location will be finalized at a later date.