The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

New Student Senate, new challenges

GVL/ Elizabeth Schanz

Grand Valley State University’s Student Senate recently held both its first meeting of the year and a Cabinet Special Election for the 2023-2024 school year. The election was held to fill open positions made available following the resignation of many senate members at the end of the last semester and over the summer. 

At the Aug. 31 meeting, the senators were sworn in for the year and it was determined who would fill the roles of many major positions in the senate, including the position of Student Body President. By filling many cabinet positions, the Senate hopes to move forward with new goals and to “restructure” the organization. 

Newly elected Student Body President Quinten Proctor was elected into his role at the meeting. At the end of the winter 2023 semester Mallory Everly was elected as president, a role previously held by Faith Kidd; however, she resigned over the summer leaving the position open. 

Proctor, who held the role of Executive Vice President (EVP) going into this fall semester, said he originally did not intend to run for president at the end of last school year and initially ran for the public relations position. In his position as EVP, he filled in for many of the roles typical of the president as the senate operated without an official president throughout the summer. 

After facing many changes to the makeup of the senate over the summer, Proctor said it felt natural to run for president during the special election and wanted to “lead the charge” through this position. 

“I am excited to work for the students here at Grand Valley and get stuff done,” Proctor said. “My whole career goals revolve around wanting to help people and make a difference in the world, and right now, I have a great opportunity to make a difference at Grand Valley as student body president.” 

Similarly, the special election determined who would fill other Student Senate Cabinet positions: Magdalyn Hallead as EVP, Yash Hazari as Vice President for Senate Resources, Jacob Flickinger as Vice President for Allocations, Selina Martell as Vice President for Public Relations, Jonathan Quist as Vice President for Campus Affairs and Paris Lawson as Vice President for Diversity Affairs. 

Going into the fall 2023 semester the Student Senate announced on their website and social media that they would be “under construction” and undergoing changes throughout the semester. Although the formal plans have not been officially laid out, the senate’s social media posts outlined internal restructuring, bringing in an external consultant, rebranding, “slowing down” or a “student first” mentality for senators and focusing on accountability overall. 

Proctor said essential functions the Student Senate has in terms of the general student body, like funding, will remain the same but many of the changes will be internal. These changes include what senate committees there will be, time commitments, new stipend structures and scheduling. Similarly, Proctor said he wants to determine the Senate’s focus in terms of senators’ presence on university committees.

“We’re looking at where we’ll have the most impact with potentially fewer people in the meantime,” Proctor said. 

Proctor said the Student Senate wants to redetermine its focus in order to best serve students. 

“We do have the power to pass legislation, and the university usually does an amazing job at working along with that to get it implemented as best as possible, but a lot of the times where we get the most work done is one-on-one conversations between senators and a faculty member,” Proctor said. “It really does happen behind the scenes constantly.”

In the meeting, Proctor highlighted the impact the Student Senate has made including the completion of the new safety cover addition to the Little Mac Bridge on the GVSU Allendale Campus following legislation the Student Senate passed in winter 2022. 

Additionally, he noted changes to the credit/no credit deadline. The Senate passed legislation that allows students to have more time to make decisions on choosing a credit versus no credit option for their courses that now aligns with the 75 percent tuition deadline.

GVSU President Philomena Mantella, who led the oath for the senators, referenced the current position of the Student Senate and what she hopes for moving forward in her opening speech. Mantella said to the Senate there were “many empty seats,” and noted the effort to rebuild the Senate after COVID-19 “to broaden the reach and reputation” of the Senate. 

“How can you urge others to come into the space and provide the kind of leadership you’re providing? How can you encourage others in their leadership journey?” Mantella said in her address. 

A fully staffed, typically structured GVSU Student Senate body has 50 seats, six of which are reserved for freshmen to get appointed. Currently, Proctor said the senate has 12 members and expects throughout the coming school year, the Student Senate will operate at a smaller size than it has in the past. Additionally, the senate held interviews following the Aug. 31 meeting and continues to accept new applicants via Laker Link. 

Proctor said the Sept. 7 meeting will further explain the restructuring proposal for the Student Senate. The Student Senate General Assembly meetings are held on Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. in the Pere Marquette River Room (room 2204) located in the Kirkhof Center and are open to the public.

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About the Contributor
Elizabeth Schanz
Elizabeth Schanz is the Lanthorn's Editor in Chief for the 2023-2024 school year. She previously worked as Arts and Entertainment editor, News editor and a staff writer for the news section throughout her three years at the Lanthorn. Elizabeth is a multimedia journalism and dance major with a minor in history. In her free time she likes to paint, go out for sushi and loves hanging out with her dog Sadie and cat Claire. She is also part of the Fredrik Meijer Honors College and Momentum dance club.
Graduating Winter 2024
Major: Multimedia Journalism and Dance
Minor: History