Starting Fall Term, Student Senate split up by class in order to plan and put into place projects that aim to improve the Knox campus.
“The main purpose of the class projects is to harness the initiative of the senators for the organizational aspects of the projects,” senior senator Josh Voravong said.
The projects also seek to respond to the values and interests of the senators’ fellow classmates.
“We go to our class and ask them what they want and then try to implement a project that responds to those desires,” freshman senator Caleb Gumanow said.
In surveying their class, freshman senators noted the perception of an insufficiency in the counseling and health services departments, particularly with regard to alcohol and drug abuse and mental illness.
“We have counselors in a general sense, but we don’t have someone who deals specifically with mental illness or drug and alcohol abuse,” Gumanow said.
The freshman class project aims to add a staff position in Counseling Services or Campus Life specifically for mental illness and alcohol and drug abuse. The freshman senators will meet with Director of Counseling Services Dan Larson to find out how to proceed. They are still unsure if the project would necessitate a new hire or simply the repurposing of existing staff members. If a new hire is decided upon, “[the freshman class senators] will participate actively in the hiring process with the Campus Life office,” Gumanow said.
Some of the other projects are decidedly less ambitious: the sophomore class seeks to implement an awareness campaign to reduce food waste in the Hard Knox Caf, and the senior class plans to partner with Business Club to organize a “senior day” near the beginning of spring term, where alumni will give career advice and practical information about paying student loans. All of the projects are in early stages of planning but will be implemented before the end of the academic year.
The funding for the projects has not yet been secured. Theoretically, it will come from the Senate Discretionary Fund and through partnerships with student organizations and other campus bodies. The sophomore awareness project will have minimal monetary costs, and will likely be funded by the Discretionary Fund. The costs for the senior project will likely be shared by the Discretionary Fund and Business Club. The counseling position that the freshman propose may be paid for by the Health Services Office, with possible supplements from the Discretionary Fund.