Student Senate reconvenes after summer break

By Jess Hodge | 9/9/15 10:02pm

GVL / Kevin Sielaff President Maddie Cleghorn addresses the senators. The Student Senate convenes Sept. 3 inside the Kirkhoff Center at Grand Valley's Allendale campus.
by Kevin Sielaff and Kevin Sielaff / The Lanthorn

Grand Valley State University's student senate had their first meeting of the school year last week on Sept. 3 to discuss events for the fall 2015 semester.

The senate is made up of 50 students, who each belong to one of seven committees. A president and executive vice president lead the senate while each committee has a vice president. The senate acts as the voice for all of GVSU’s students.

The first meeting consisted of the president, executive vice president and each vice president giving their reports of what they hope to happen in the school year and anything new that will be happening this year.

Maddie Cleghorn, president of the senate, was first to give her reports. She voiced her enthusiasm about the new school year and about what the senate members could accomplish for the GVSU students.

“We have some cool future collaborative projects with the Women’s Center, the Community Service Learning Center and GVPD ” Cleghorn said.

She is also excited about working closely with the Community Service Learning Center this year to promote voter engagement, especially as 2016 is a presidential voting year. Cleghorn also had news about a new “student-driven” approach toward this year's Battle of the Valleys.

“We’re going to take a community approach this year,” she said. “We’re going to try to get the hype up not just from students but people around Allendale and Grand Rapids too.”

Cleghorn is looking forward to filling the spot of vice president for external affairs.

Jorden Simmonds, executive vice president of the senate, spoke next about each member getting their composites done.

Vice President of Educational Affairs Maria Beelen reported about the annual Dickinson Elementary School visit.

“We get a lot of their students to Grand Valley, just to see what college is like,” Beelen explained. “We want them to see the opportunities they can have just by attending college.”

Beelen also spoke about her excitement toward planning the Last Lecture.

Mackenzie Butler, vice president of diversity affairs, talked about how she spoke with the police chief about public safety.

“There’s a public safety liaison committee that I’m not sure a lot of people know about,” Butler said. “If there is ever a complaint about how a police officer handled a situation, you can report that to the chief of police or the website and that complaint can then be dealt with.”

Lastly, Vice President of Public Relations Ella Fritzemeier spoke about Campus Life Night and working on a T-shirt design for the T-shirt swap later this year.

“(T-shirt swap) is where we create a cool shirt for Grand Valley and you can exchange an old high school T- shirt or university T- shirt during homecoming week for the new Grand Valley one,” Fritzemeier explained. “The old T- shirts are donated to Grand Rapids Public Schools for kids to aspire on to higher education.”

GVSU President Thomas Haas also came to the meeting to address the senate.

“It’s a tradition now to come to the first meeting,” Haas said. “We do a little business but also add a little perspective as well.”

Haas spoke highly of the students on the senate and how they are the people representing not only the 25,000 plus students here, but also the alum and the faculty and staff.

“At the end of the day, we are about providing an environment for students to succeed,” Haas said. “That takes leadership and it takes service. You are providing that leadership and service here. It is so critically important that you provide that conduit then to me, my staff, to the faculty and then to all others.”

Haas also held a moment of silence for the late Richard Wheeler, an alumnus of GVSU. A financial aid scholarship was recently created in his honor.

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