BY ALLYSON HUNTOON '19
“Senate must be a place where we learn about Mount Holyoke through a diverse range of perspectives,” said Liz Brown ’20. She addressed SGA senators with the hope of becoming next year’s chair of Senate, explaining her hopes for the future of Mount Holyoke and Senate’s role on campus.
Senate met on Tuesday night to discuss Student Conference Committee survey results, class board and campus election results and to hold in-senate position elections. Senate meets every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Blanchard Great Room, beginning with an open space for students to voice any concerns that they may have about the school.
At the beginning of this week’s Senate meeting, students explained the need for student hosts for prospective students this weekend as well as confusion over broken electronics at LITS.
Marwa Mikati ’17, Student Government president, then gave her weekly update, noting that Love Your Lyons polls are open online, spring concert tickets have been made available to Five-College students this week and that a response to the transportation memorandum will be available
around April 18th. She also explained that she’d “relayed the feedback that [she] got about the BOOM Conference” to the administration and that considerations will be made based on these comments in the planning of next year’s conference.
The results of the SCC survey were addressed next. 1,229 students responded to the SCC survey, of which 1,089 were self-identified females. Students who participated in the survey reported that they felt generally comfortable on campus, but expressed some concern about the acceptance of diverse political views. The results also show that age has become less of a source of discomfort on campus since 2014, while political views have become a greater challenge since 2016. Students who participate in school traditions reported having a generally high level of satisfaction with them. Of those who responded to the survey, about 78 percent of students said that they feel comfortable engaging in a diverse classroom environment, and 72 percent said that the classroom experience was very influential when deciding to attend Mount Holyoke College. This was the second-most decisive factor in choosing to Mount Holyoke according to these students, while the greatest decisive factor was the array of academic opportunities offered at the college. The third most decisive factor was financial aid and the fourth was diversity on campus.
In relation to AccessAbility Services, the survey asked about students’ experiences and concerns. According to results, 23.4 percent of students who answered identify as having a disability. Students expressed the desire for greater communication and a different location for the AccessAbility office, which is now the in Wilder Hall basement.
Student responses also expressed the desire for more healthy and international food options in “SuperBlanch,” and across campus. With regard to the soon-to-be vacated dining hall spaces, students want to see more lounges with themes, study rooms and kitchens in these areas.
Work study was another topic addressed by the survey. 39.6 percent of students reported working on work study and 57.5 percent of those students said they are satisfied with the number of hours they work. These students also expressed a desire for more academics-related work study jobs in the future. The Senate committee responsible for analyzing these results explained, “We’ve already presented our data to the specific departments,”to address students’ concerns.
Student Government election results were discussed next. While class board elections for the classes of 2019 and 2020 met quorum, the classes of 2017, 2018 and all-campus elections did not. This meant that the Senate had to vote to accept voting results for these specific races as they were, with fewer votes than desired, all short by less than 110 votes. The vote to keep the results passed with a vote from the entire Senate. Some SGA positions remain vacant.
Three Senate positions were voted on at the meeting: chair of halls, chair of orgs and chair of Senate. Franny Eremeva '20, the Senator from Buckland Hall, ran unopposed for chair of halls.
She has previously served as head of the Facilities and Management working group within Senate, responsible for the installation of hydration stations in every residence hall that did not previously have a 24-hour water fountain available to students. She won the race, promising to address key issues within the Senate and residence halls.
Lillia Baird ’18 and Ambar Mejia ’20 both ran for the position of chair of orgs, while oversees student organizations on campus and their involvement in Senate. Baird highlighted her extensive experience in Mount Holyoke Student Government, while Mejia advertised a fresh perspective and an open schedule. Mejia won the race, moving up from Senator of the Latinx political group, MEChA, to next year’s chair of orgs.
The chair of Senate position, responsible for organizing, scheduling and conducting meetings, had an uncontested race. Liz Brown ’20, Senator from MacGregor Hall, expressed enthusiasm for the position. She noted her experience working in political offices and in student government, while describing her hopes for the role of Senate on campus. Communication, she explained, would be a major element in doing the job effectively and for Senate to function as she hopes it will, especially in dealing with conflicts. She emphasized the true need for a diverse range of opinions and perspectives and the need for interpersonal dialogue surrounding tough issues. “I believe that we not only have a valuable platform, but a responsibility to share that platform with all,” she said, in reference to Senate as a body on campus.
The elections results will be in effect for the 2017-2018 academic year. Current SGA public relations officer, Bobbie Green ’19, was impressed with the candidates who ran for Senate positions, saying, “I think everybody who ran was right for the job.”