This past week at our senate meeting, we had the special opportunity to meet with members of the College’s senior staff, including President Strikwerda, Dean Calenda and Vice President for Administration and Finance Robert Wallet.
Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Betty Rider, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Community Relations David Biedleman and Executive Director of Marketing and Communicatios Liz Braungard were also in attendance. During this meeting we focused our discussion on four main topics which we found to be of the most importance with a general Q&A at the end.
Our first topic was mental health. We focused this discussion on concerns students have brought to us about counseling services and discussed the possibility of having later hours, as well as hiring two new counselors instead of one.
Another concern brought up was ways we could improve on advocating for mental health and raising awareness of discrimination on campus as a whole. Additionally, we focused on the possibility of better advertising for mental health accommodations through disability services and the Student Handbook. We ended our discussion brainstorming ways to improve our mental health services and awareness overall.
Our next topic was Disability Services. It had come to our attention that many students feel as though disability accommodations are not being met. Therefore, we spent this period trying to gain a better understanding of how the school handles disability services.
Rider explained there are days of professional development where faculty members participate in workshops that revolve around responsibilities related to students and the faculty’s role in medical emergencies. Another area of focus was more accessible buildings. Wallet explained the financial concerns surrounding building renovations.
The third topic was campus security relatons and interactions. During this time the roles and responsibilities of campus security officers were discussed, as well as concerns regarding resolution processes in various policy violations. Student Senate plans to follow up on this by scheduling a meeting with campus security officers in order to obtain a better scope of areas of concern.
The last topic involved all concerns relate to residential life. The biggest areas of conversation under this topic were related to the housing contract and the fee to break it, as well as the mandatory meal plan. While discussing this topic, we compared policies at competing colleges to our own in hopes of finding a policy preferable to students.
The general Q&A provided a wrap-up session for any remaining concerns not necessarily related to the previously mentioned topics. Due to the time constraint we could not discuss these concerns in great detail, but we plan to provide senior staff members with a follow-up letter in hopes of seeing outcomes.
Additionally, we will be hosting another meeting with senior staff members next semester that all members of the student body are welcome to attend. Our minutes from this meeting will be sent out to the students soon so everyone is able to read in depth what was discussed.
If anyone has any concerns, I encourage them to reach out to Student Senate and we will address them with the senior staff members.