Senate discusses Community Advisor salary increase, Superblanch, and new student health care plan

BY EMMA RUBIN ’20

Mount Holyoke’s weekly senate meeting on Oct. 17 featured a busy agenda with speakers from AccessAbility, Residential Life, “Superblanch,” and the Health Center. There were also updates from student representatives regarding SGA Executive Board, Auxiliary Services, event security funding and the Seven Sisters Leadership Conference.

The meeting opened with the opportunity for senators to share concerns from their constituents. Such concerns included laundry machine inconsistencies, M&C options for different dietary needs, trash not being cleaned up after parties, paper towel distribution and more. Chair of Senate Elizabeth Brown ’20 swiftly moved the meeting to reviewing the night’s agenda.

Brown first opened the floor to SGA President Camille Gladieux ’18 for updates about the Executive Board. Gladieux responded to concerns about Auxiliary Services offering to pick up students from Boston Logan Airport but not from Bradley Airport. Gladieux said she would look into the matter. 

Gladieux then expressed hope for more student involvement with Mount Holyoke staff, and proposed sending an SGA representative to staff meetings. 

Dean of Students Marcella Runell Hall took the stage to remind students about Family and Friends Weekend. She encouraged students to be sensitive to peers who might not have family and friends visiting. “It’s a celebration for all of us,” she said. 

Dean Hall also announced that the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) will be visiting Mount Holyoke this weekend, from Sunday, Oct. 22 to Tuesday, Oct. 24. Mount Holyoke is up for reaccreditation, and the organization visits every 10 years for self-study to reward accreditation. The process measures if Mount Holyoke and its programs reach certain standards set by the agency. Mount Holyoke’s website noted the importance of accreditation: “NEASC accreditation provides the general public with evidence of our excellence.” Dean Hall said it is how the school can provide financial aid and diplomas. 

Dean of Residential Life Rachel Alldis spoke next, announcing that, with the help of student input in the Student Conference Committee (SCC) survey, CAs and SCAs now have a 40 percent salary increase from last year. She also reminded students that applications to create a Living Learning Community (LLC), are now open. 

Richard Perna, the new director of Dining Services then gave a presentation about the new dining facility. He thoroughly explained the layout of the new facility, which will be open from 7 a.m. until midnight with a 4 p.m.-5 p.m. break to prepare for dinner, he said. The center will feature nine different stations including wok and sushi, allergen zone, kosher station, salad bar, chef’s table, grill, deli stations, international and all-day breakfast. He emphasized that “cooked to order” would be a major theme of the new dining center.

“Health and wellness is really at the forefront of this facility,” Perna said. 

During his presentation, Perna showed excitement for Superblanch’s unlimited entrance-swipe concept that will allow students to enter the dining area as many times a day as they want. Perna said the concept for the new facility is “your kitchen in your own home.” 

Dining plans will be available for commuters, staff and faculty, and the facility will have 1,000 seats available. “I’ve worked in a lot of community centers just like this,” Perna said. He is confident that the space will be able to accommodate the Mount Holyoke community appropriately. 

Following Perna’s presentation, Franny Eremeeva ’20 informed students that Auxiliary Services is looking into fixing the problem of residence halls not having enough laundry machines. Eremeeva also reported that they are working to fix broken vending machines. 

Amber Douglas, director of Student Success Initiatives, then provided updates on AccessAbility Services, which has moved its location to the third floor of Mary Lyon Hall, a spot with handicapped-accessible entrances. The office will begin having drop-in hours, although official times have not yet been determined. New AccessAbility peer fellow programs will also be launched this year, pairing upperclass students with first and second-year students to help withthe accommodation process.

Next, Valerie Montesino ’19 and Joud Mar’i ’19 informed senators of the new event security policy. Previously, Ways and Means funded security for on-campus events. Now the guidelines have changed to fund up to $1,000 of the security cost of an event. Montesino and Mar’i explained that 9.2 percent of the SGA budget went to event security last year, an increase from 7.5 percent the year before. They clarified that the cost of security at most events falls within the $1,000 dollar range, but that large-scale Chapin parties for example usually cost $1,900. 

Karen Engell, Director of Health Services, was the last speaker of the night. She informed senators that the student health insurance plan is now partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield rather than with UnitedHealthcare. This change no longer requires a referral for service from in-network providers and also offers a $0 copay for such providers. 

Engell also shared that Lewis and Clark Pharmacy recently informed the health center that they will no longer be offering drug drop-off services. However, Engell confirmed that they have found another pharmacy with which to partner for this service. Information has been sent out to students directly affected by this change.

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