In an effort to engage Knox’s student body and encourage voters to participate in the upcoming election, Student Senate held debates for five chair positions in Ferris Lounge. Positions included the chair positions for Campus Life, Sustainability, Dining Services, Health and Wellness and Diversity.
Freshman Zane Huffman is running for Campus Life Chair uncontested. His goals for next year include sustaining and promoting the welfare and overall happiness of the student body.
Sophomore Irene Stephenson is also running for Sustainability Chair uncontested. This year, Stephenson has served as Dining Services Chair and is interested in running for Sustainability because she has more of a passion for sustainability as an Environmental Studies major.
“In Dining Services, your main job is focusing on little things, [such as] getting more garlic salt on tables,” Stephenson said. “I feel like in this position you can actually do things.”
Some of the areas Stephenson aims to focus on next year include working with dining services to reduce the use of plastic, especially with plastic bottles, and implementing more water bottle filters on campus.
Sophomore Spencer Bauer and freshman Flora Florova are running for Dining Services Chair. Although Bauer could not attend the debate, former Vice President Shannon Caveny read a statement in Bauer’s place.
“I believe that both the students and Dining Services staff are very displeased with the cafeteria as a whole. I believe that I can be a catalyst of change,” Bauer wrote. “My goal as Dining Services chair would be to increase the variety of meals and improve the overall efficiency so that the student body can genuinely say they enjoy eating in their own cafeteria.”
Florova’s goals for next year include opening a line of communication between the student body and Dining Services by hosting monthly dialogues with the heads of Dining Services. At these dialogues, students will have the opportunity to ask questions and make requests regarding the variety of the food.
“I feel that students are displeased and do not have an effective and constructive way to communicate exactly what they’re displeased about,” Florova said. “And the Dining Services staff are getting defensive because, yes, while they’re trying, the changes aren’t happening quickly enough for the students.”
There is a three-way race for the Health and Wellness Chair between juniors Joel Vargeese and Jeannie Mora and sophomore Deja Jenkins. All three candidates emphasized the importance of both mental and physical health and mentioned bringing more awareness to disabilities, especially in regard to accessibility of campus facilities.
“I think definitely a combination of areas can be improved in terms of mental health issues are concerned,” Mora said. “But, I think we should take it one step deeper and implement something for the future that can be utilized in the future consistently — something like a mental health awareness training for [professors].”
Mora also mentioned that she would like to create more activities to promote physical health on campus, such as campus walks in the spring and fall or yoga classes. Jenkins also said that she hopes to work with Culinary House to create a cooking class for students living off campus to learn how to cook healthier options.
Freshman Eden Sarkisian, sophomore Sam Arrez and junior Tamia Phifer are competing in a three-way race for Diversity Chair. Phifer was not present at the debates, but both Sarkisian and Arrez touched on what they believed were some of the biggest concerns regarding diversity on campus, such as political issues affecting undocumented students, gender neutral bathrooms and increasing awareness of resources on and off campus.
“I think those are issues Senate needs to take on. If there’s a majority vote, we can always be of help, and we should be that resource,” Sarkisian said. “The diversity chair should be that resource for M.E.Ch.A. to come up to us and say ‘We’re doing this thing, we really need your help, what can you do for us?’ Or, ‘Here’s what we need from you, what can you do for us?’”
Voting begins Friday, April 28 and is open through the weekend. The winners will be announced on Monday morning.