Campus / News / January 29, 2020

Senate Briefing: Senators talk campus depression

In response to a concern brought up in a faculty committee meeting over the “sullen and depressing” atmosphere on campus, Student Senate took a straw poll to gauge students’ feelings and discussed how the mood of the school could be raised at their meeting last Thursday in the Trustee’s Room of Alumni Hall.

The meeting also saw the introduction of three new members of Senate, junior Luis Patino and freshmen Hannah Taylor and Eli Clifford. The trio were elected in a special election to fill vacant seats earlier in the week.


Budget Update

A representative from Classics Club came before Student Senate to make an additional funds request for $75. The request was to support the launching of weekly tea events, which Classics Club had done in the past but had stopped for the last few years.

The representative explained that this was different from the events already held by Tea Club on campus due to it being intended to be more “anglophile” in nature. Senate approved the funds request.

Senate Treasurer Andrew Liput, junior, also gave an update on the state of funding for student activities. At the beginning of the year, Senate had budgeted $15,000 more than was available to student organizations. As Liput had expected, this has been cut down over the course of the year to $3000, with Lupit now expecting that Senate will not have to go into its additional savings this year.


Health and Wellness Projects

Health and Wellness Chair Tina Jeon, junior, presented a funds request to senate for a project from her committee to provide anti-fatigue mats for students use in the Whitcomb Art Center.

Jeon explained her hope that the mats would be able to improve the experience of art students who often have to work long hours — including overnight — at the WAC building. While Jeon was open to the possibility of ordering more in the future, for now five mats will be ordered and be placed in different parts of WAC.

The funds request totaled $302.99 dollars, with the money being requested from the Campus Life Enhancement Fund, which Vice President for Student Development Anne Ehrlich explained had over $50,000 available in it. The request was approved by Senate.

Senate also approved a discretionary funds request from Jeon for the purchase of 100 female condoms.


Ice and laundry concerns raised

During the class reports portion of the meeting, several senators noted the issues they have experienced recently with walking around the icy campus. Specific locations were highlighted so that Facility Services place more attention on them.

Also brought up as an issue was the coin laundry system, with senators questioning whether it would be possible for the school to move away from the use of quarters, either through adding card swipers everywhere or adding laundry to the overall room and board costs.

Ehrlich stated that the issue has not been addressed in the past simply due to not rising to the top of concerns, but that it was possible that Senate could choose to elevate it as a matter for the school to look into.


Depression on campus

Senators from the faculty committee for Student Life reported that the faculty members had felt a “sullen and depressing” mood at Knox, partially as a result of traditional Winter Term doldrums but also carrying over from the fall, and wanted to know if that reflected students’ experience.

Senate held a straw poll on whether its member agreed with the characterization that campus morale was at a lower level than normal and found that about half its representatives agreed with the statement.

Discussing the potential sources of this depression, explanations ranged from negative national and international headlines to the Winter Term being a harder one for students academically due to some students taking their heaviest workloads during it.

Suggestions from Senate on how to uplift the community included setting some kind of event that would serve as a “Winter Term Flunk Day” on a smaller scale, as well as in general setting up more events that brought people together.

Some senators suggested that while Union Board already has the responsibility of setting up fun events on campus, students may not have a positive perception of Union Board and their events may not be appealing to enough students on campus. Other senators, which include several members of Union Board, argued that it is the culture on campus that is not supporting fun events.


Future meetings

As a result of a letter Senate sent to the Board of Trustees in the fall, raising their concern over rising tuition costs, current Board chair Chuck Smith ‘86 agreed to video conference with senators at their Jan. 30 meeting.

Questions senators prepared for Smith included concerns about the deficit and what spending projects the school is prioritizing.

President Cayne Randle, senior, also discussed during the meeting the fact the constitutional changes are being worked on and prepared for presentation to the entirety of Senate. She explained the Senate’s exec wants to spread out the discussion of changes more than they have been in past years.

The next meeting of Student Senate will be held on Thursday, Feb. 6 in the Trustee’s Room of Alumni Hall.

Carlos Flores-Gaytan, Co-News Editor
Co-News Editor

Tags:  Student Senate

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