This Monday, junior Tevin Liao was elected the new President of Student Senate for the 2016-2017 school year. TKS sat down with him to talk about his goals, plans and hopes for the upcoming year.
The Knox Student: How long have you been involved in Senate?
Tevin Liao: Since I was a first-year; my first year I was given the opportunity to be the first-year representative, so I was on exec board then, then I became Campus Life Chair the year after. I am currently Vice President. So not only have I been on Senate for three years, I’ve also been on the exec board for all three years.
TKS: Why is Senate important to you?
TL: I find it important because one, I’m always one that would like to see change on campus, and while I may not be the most knowledgeable in everything, I’d like to think that I’m very strong in logistical pieces. So as I continue working in Senate, that’s something I’m able to do: I’m able to help the people who want to go and make a difference, and provide them as many resources as I can.
TKS: When did you decide to run for President?
TL: I think it was something that I’ve been thinking about for a very long time, ever since I ran for Vice President, actually. One of the questions during the debate then was if I had the intention of becoming President, and as I continued to work more with the administration and with other students I realized that being President would be the next best way to be able to continue helping people.
TKS: Were you at the debates this year?
TL: I was not. I was at a rehearsal for the Dance Ensemble piece.
TKS: What are your plans and goals for the upcoming year?
TL: So the current plans that I have right now are to at least continue use on the projects that President [senior Charlie] Harned started, so namely the renovations of the basketball court. There are projects that I have thought of in the past, namely switching the campus current security systems: instead of using a traditional lock and key, switching over to key card systems. That’s something that has been kind of in my back pocket for a while, but I’ve never been able to find enough people or resources to be able to look into that. One thing that I’ve realized in my entire time with Senate exec is that the president is more there to help the individual chairs, whereas the president has their own agenda to push. And that’s how I kinda see myself going into this: I’m not going to go in there saying I’m going to get all these things done; I want to be able to help all these chairs who came to Senate exec for very specific reasons, and I’m there as the one who can guide them whenever possible.
TKS: What are the biggest issues facing campus right now?
TL: I guess, based on very big conversations going on there’s Title IX aspects, there are dining services aspects with Bon Apptit and seeing where that goes. Those are really the two big ones that have been going on. Now, with issues of the lead in the water, and what exactly that means for the health of students and the water systems, is something that’s starting to pop up. These are really kind of the three big conversations that I’ve been hearing around the campus. Other things that I’ve also been involved in looking at as well are issues related to smoking and seeing where that goes and if there’s anything that can be done about that. [Dean of Students] Deb Southern has recently updated the policy with that, so there have been some steps with that. And also seeing if there’s been any progression made on a non-denominational prayer space; that’s something that I’d originally started looking at awhile back as well.
TKS: What do you think Senate should be focusing on?
TL: I’m always hesitant to answer that question, mainly because every year new challenges come up, in this case being Bon Apptit. The year before that was a lot of the diversity initiatives that were going on, and while we can go on with some idea of what it is, there really isn’t anything that we can do to prepare ourselves in the case if something does pop up, so while I’d like to say that we can continue focusing on the issues that we’ve already been focusing on with Dining Services with the Title IX cases and diversity and what exactly the diversity workshops may include, there are always other things that pop up throughout the year as students come in and people start to discover new changes, that there are new things that we need to start addressing.
TKS: What are you looking forward to?
TL: I’m looking forward to working with the new Senate exec. There are a lot of new faces on the exec board, and that’s something I really enjoy ‘cause that brings a different perspective, seeing how they handle it. Everyone has their own different styles and no one’s really taking from what previous chairs have done.