Senate election winners look forward

Following the spring elections, a new group of executive members and committee chairs review the reasons they ran for their positions and detail their plans for the future. Student Senates greatest assets and challenges heading into the new academic year are evaluated.

phil senatePresident: Philip Bennett ’14

Previously served as vice president, 2012-2013

Goals: To foster a stronger relationship between older and younger senators; to improve Senate visibility through increased use of social media and possibly moving the meeting location to Seymour Union; to empower Senate chairpersons to pursue their own projects; to create a more positive and supportive campus culture

Projects: More sustainability initiatives; town-hall style meetings facilitated by Senate and other groups

Already in the works: Creating a new Senate website with meeting minutes and a discussion forum

Senate’s biggest asset: “We had a really impressive crop of first-year senators. They’re all super motivated, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they develop their leadership skills.”

Biggest challenge: Theme housing. “I think we should probably reconsider, even if it’s appropriate for students to undertake this kind of responsibility,” Bennett said of Senate’s oversight of the theme housing process.

“We never really take the time as an organization to evaluate ourselves. … I’d really like to start taking a step back, looking at ourselves, looking at what we’ve done [and] just trying to see what works and what doesn’t.”

senate3Vice president: Devin Hanley ’15

Goals: To boost active participation of the student body in Senate and among senators; to improve perceptions of Senate among students as friendly, open and effective

Projects: “Nothing concrete. I’m involved in a lot of things across several different segments of campus, so if there’s a way I can engage and connect various segments, I think I can definitely unite the student body in working with Senate and voicing their opinions.”

Why she ran: “I’m all about finding that leadership experience and bettering myself as a person and a student leader.”

“I definitely view Senate as a liaison between the student body and the administration, so if we can strengthen that relationship [between students and Senate] in voicing their concerns and viewing us as an approachable entity, that will be very important.”

elisenateSecretary: Eli Mulhausen ’14

Previously served as secretary, winter and spring 2012

Goals: Improving bookkeeping; creating easily accessible digital records of Senate documents; increasing participation in Senate through social media, PR campaigns and events

Previously as secretary: Mulhausen was elected in a special election in winter 2012 after secretary Justin Steele stepped down due to a class scheduling conflict. Mulhausen initiated the search for a Senate logo during his tenure.

Senate’s biggest challenge: Adjusting to the changing makeup of the college as Knox adds 200 students over the next several years, and working with major infrastructure changes, including the renovation of Alumni Hall

“In regards to how the college is changing, it will be interesting to see how Senate changes alongside of that. I think that it’ll be a year of … looking at planning for the future.”

srisenateTreasurer: Srichandra Masabathula ’16

Goals: “To allocate the right amount of funds to the right areas at the right time”; to have more involved discussions about proposals before they come to a vote

Projects: Creating a post-transaction report for clubs to fill out after they have been granted an additional funds request to discuss how funds were used

Why he ran: “I was a member of Finance Committee last year…. I thought my passion and interest [in financial mathematics] would be put to effective use this way for the campus.”

Best thing that happened on Senate this year: “Theme housing, because it was the first time that the Campus Life Committee actually brought in a proposal that was not passed by Senate. Some of the best discussions happened in that meeting, and that’s what Senate is for.”

“If you don’t like something, you have the opportunity to change it. That’s what I love about Knox and Senate.”

nora senateSustainability Chair: Nora McGinn ’14

Previously served as sustainability chair, 2012-2013

Goals: Fostering student pride in student-driven, student-funded sustainability initiatives; continuing to encourage more proposals to the Student Sustainability Fund; pushing for more student input

Projects: Creating a program with downtown businesses that would allow students to use flex dollars at cafŽs and restaurants; continuing to look into small-scale alternative energy opportunities

Previously as sustainability chair: During McGinn’s tenure, the number of proposals to the Student Sustainability Fund has increased sharply, which she attributes to more sustainability events around campus and the addition of Sustainability Coordinator Shawn Tubb. McGinn also helped with the revamping of the grow dome proposal into the high tunnel proposal.

Strengths of Senate this year: “I think [current president] Mike [Gasparro] has done a really good job in the way that he makes sure there is consensus on things É before it gets to the point where we’re voting on them. We haven’t had long, argumentative meetings.”

What Senate still needs to work on: “Getting more people involved in the consensus. It’s hard because everyone’s busy, but just getting more people’s opinions in upfront so that when it gets to voting, we’re all on the same page.”

“This [sustainability] is student-driven and student-funded, and what I hope for next year would be to make sure that’s known to students and is something that’s celebrated.”

victorsenateCampus Life Chair: Victor Schultz ’16

Goals: To encourage more student input on Senate; to talk with students about what they want changed with respect to campus life; to be more transparent and less subjective when it comes to theme housing

Projects: Revamping theme housing to let applicants know what housing options are available and how many people a group needs to live in a certain area

Other ideas: Enforcing the rule that people cannot smoke in doorways; purchasing new showers in some dorms; looking into new printers in campus labs

The Campus Life Committee’s biggest success this year: Completing projects that were taken on, including purchasing new washers and dryers and creating a new safety video

Biggest challenge: Coordinating theme housing

“Everyone checks their email, but you don’t pay attention to things you’re not going to be held accountable for. As a body on campus, we have to reach out more to students and be more visible.”

senate2Technology Chair: Nana Opoku ’15

Previously served as technology chair, 2012-2013

Goals: “My main goal last year is pretty much the same for next year: bridging the gap between students and ITS [Information Technology Services].” Opoku hopes to further publicize his position as a resource for students with technology problems.

Projects: Improving the quality of computer lab equipment; creating a “functional” Technology Committee to pursue larger projects

Previously as tech chair: During Opoku’s tenure, the college purchased more bandwidth and new digital screens in Seymour Union for advertising campus events.

Strengths of Senate this year: Taking a variety of opinions into consideration when making decisions

Senate’s biggest challenge: “A lot more could be done in terms of commitment to make that decision-making process better. Sometimes people don’t seem to care and just want to get out of there.”

“I’d encourage students to come to a Senate meeting to find out what Senate can do for them, because Senate is there for the students and is not going to function without the students.”

senate1Dining Services Chair: Olaloye Oyedotun ’15

Goals: Getting more and tastier vegetarian and vegan options; minimizing the length of lines in the cafeteria

Projects: Creating a committee of international students to suggest new menu options and help tweak current “ethnic” dishes; creating a monthly poll for students to give feedback about food

Already in the works: Choosing one new themed menu for the Oak Room

Senate’s biggest strength: “I liked the budgeting process and how the treasurer and her whole committee were able to streamline everything so we have a lot of excess funds for next year.”

Biggest challenge: “It was pretty difficult for us to get quorum sometimes. É It slowed down some of the processes. People need to plug in and be there.”

“I’m a cook, and I love food. I would love for people to send me their opinions on things they want to change in Dining Services.”

Tags:  campus life devin hanley dining services elections eli mulhausen nana opoku nora mcginn officers olaloye oyedotun phil bennet President senate srichandra masabathula sustainability Technology treasurer vice president victor schultz

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