Cabinets running for Student Senate participate in annual debate

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On Monday, Sept. 28, two Cabinets running for Student Senate at William Jewell College participated in a virtual debate hosted by The Hilltop Monitor. The debate is a time for Cabinets to present their platforms, answer specific questions on primary issues and respond to student questions. This year’s debate took place via Zoom and was accessible to all Jewell students. Voting will commence Sept. 30 and will officially close at the end of the day Oct. 1. The new Senate Cabinet will be announced via email Oct. 2.

The debate consisted of each Cabinet answering questions from The Hilltop Monitor Editor-in-Chief Christina Kirk, and Managing and Chief Copy Editor Savannah Hawley – concluding with audience questions. Students may watch a recording of the debate here.

The two Cabinets running for Student Senate are “Your Voice on the Hill” and “Change, Respond, Impact.”

Your Voice on the Hill logo. Courtesy of Olivia Eggleston.
Change, Respond, Impact logo. Courtesy of Madison Carroll.

Your Voice on the Hill” consists of Olivia Eggleston, senior nonprofit leadership and Applied Critical Thought and Inquiry (ACT-In) major, for president; Tavarus Pennington, junior English and communication major, for vice president; Grace Garbe, junior communication and nonprofit leadership major, for secretary; and Ireland Hawkins, senior accounting major, for treasurer. 

Change, Respond, Impact” consists of Madison Carroll, senior Oxbridge: Institutions and Policy and international relations major, for president; Samuel Slaughter, sophomore history and secondary education major, for vice president; Asa Mpuan, senior chemistry major, for treasurer; and Elise Villarreal, senior English and theater major, for secretary.  

“Your Voice on the Hill’s” platform emphasized their goals to institute a student needs cabinet, recreating a bias incident response team and fostering better community.

Eggleston described the Cabinet’s platform by presenting their primary initiatives. These include encouraging club involvement, establishing a survey network and instituting presidential addresses. They also aim to improve use of  Student Senate’s budget, uplift diversity and inclusion efforts, foster engagement and promote health and safety on the campus. 

“To encourage active involvement in on-campus organizations we want to create a fund dedicated to Senate co-hosting events with clubs. These events could be the choice of the club. This could work as a strategy to promote more interconnectedness between organizations but also promote more involvement from senators as well. Partnerships within the Jewell community regarding other clubs is important for student senate to be recognized. The Senate should serve as a helping hand to fostering relationships within campus,” Eggleston said of increasing campus engagement.

Eggleston also emphasized their plans for diversity and inclusion.

“[We want to implement] virtue signs throughout campus clearly defining what we do not stand for,” Eggleston said.

Carroll described “Change, Respond, Impact’s” platform as emphasizing the need to alter the way clubs and organizations are sought out in order to respond to student desires.

“First, we want to change the way that students and administration interact. We want to facilitate collaborative meetings between administration and multicultural organizations in order to promote positive development on campus. Second, we want to respond to the voices of students. We will be actively engaging student clubs and individual groups of students to understand what changes students want to see. Finally, we will make an impact on campus. This will be accomplished through changing the way that administration interacts with organizations and by responding to the needs of Jewell students,” Carroll said.

During the formal question section of the debate, the two cabinets largely agreed about the need for improved communication between Senate, student organizations and the College administration. Both Cabinets emphasized their desires to improve diversity and inclusion efforts at Jewell.

The Hilltop Monitor asked a series of questions, listed with each Cabinet’s answers below. Each respondent was given one minute to respond to each question and would be cut off after 90 seconds. After each answer from a Cabinet, the other Cabinet was given the option to respond in 30 seconds. Cabinet responses are demarcated below as “Response” – ordered below the previous cabinet’s answer. The Cabinets alternated who answered first, but answers will be presented in a consistent manner to minimize confusion. 

Questions:

What makes your Cabinet unique?

In 30 seconds, explain why you believe you are qualified for the position you are running for.

What are your Cabinet’s priorities?

Why do you think your Cabinet is representative of the student body?

Do you have plans for how you will partner with other student organizations?

What do you think is the state of Campus Safety’s relationship with students, and how can your Cabinet improve them?

How are you going to engage independent students on campus? Greek life students? How are you going to promote cohesion between the two groups?

How do you plan to keep the campus community informed about Senate initiatives?

If elected, what will your Cabinet do to contribute to diversity and inclusivity on Jewell’s campus and in implementing the goals of the radical inclusivity initiative?

How does your Cabinet plan to invest the Senate budget?

How will your Cabinet engage faculty and staff as members of the Jewell community?

Will your Cabinet build on the efforts of past cabinets? If so, how?

What is your Cabinet’s relationship to Student Life and the College’s administration? How will this impact your leadership?

How do you intend to dispel the notion that Student Senate is a do-nothing organization?

What do your Cabinets think about the current COVID-19 policies? Would your Cabinet change any of the current policies?

Given the new changes to Jewell’s Title IX policies, would you say your cabinet is informed on the new process and how do you plan to make sure every student is as well?

What makes your Cabinet unique?

Your Voice On the Hill (YVOH) emphasized that each of their Cabinet members are affiliated with several organizations, will offer unique individual perspectives and are deeply involved in the Jewell community.

“We are [all] immersed in the community of Jewell – each in our own positive light,” Eggleston said. 

Change, Respond, Impact (CRI) said that their cabinet represents diverse viewpoints and several student organizations so that more people on campus may be represented. These organizations include theater, dance, QUILTBAG, Shape Your Future, resident assistants and Gender Issues & Feminism (GIF).

“I think what really does just make us unique is the different types of activities we find ourselves involved in on campus,” said Carroll.

In 30 seconds, explain why you believe you are qualified for the position you are running for.

YVOH: Eggleston said she is qualified for president because she brings passion to everything she does and claimed this is a necessary attribute especially given current circumstances – like the COVID-19 pandemic. She also emphasized her variety of skills both as a people person and from a business perspective.

Pennington emphasized his experience at Jewell thus far, his connection with administration and ability to bring ideas to fruition to explain why he is qualified to be vice president. He said he’s been involved in College processes and is aware of what is needed to impact change on campus. 

Garbe said she has been on Student Senate for three years now and she knows how to improve Senate. She also emphasized her leadership roles in Campus Union Activities and her sorority, her relationships with campus administration and her personal connections with a significant number of students.

Hawkins said she is qualified to be treasurer because she is an accounting major, has been vice president of finance for Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and has been in positions of leadership in her sorority since she joined. She generally emphasized her experience with both finance and leadership as evidencing her qualifications. 

CRI: Carroll explained her experience as GIF founder to encapsulate why she is qualified to be president. She is the founder and events chair of GIF and she successfully helped implement the club’s condom and menstrual product distribution initiative. She wrote proposals for the initiatives to administration and Student Life and successfully worked with both to implement the projects.

Slaughter emphasized his experience with student organizations and explained how he will offer a unique perspective on cabinet. He said he is an independent student who is more in touch with younger students as he is a sophomore.

Villarreal said she is qualified to be secretary because she has been deeply involved in Jewell’s environment and community, she emphasizes teamwork and collaboration and that she will speak for organizations on campus that feel unheard. 

Mpuan emphasized his leadership skills, experience as a resident assistant and experience with people depending on him to explain why he is qualified to be treasurer. He said that it is especially important for a treasurer to be dependable and organized.

What are your Cabinet’s priorities?

YVOH: Pennington explained that YVOH has three primary priorities. The first is to implement a student needs closet to provide food and other necessities for students on campus – especially those who may not be able to return home for breaks. He said that this idea had been in the works during 2019-2020 but was ultimately not implemented. Secondly, the Cabinet wants to resuscitate some form of a bias incident response team. He cited the Climate Action Response Team (CART) becoming defunct and their desire to work with Dr. Rodney Smith to reform a similar team. Third, they want to foster a better community. One example Pennington provided was the Cabinet’s desire to strengthen the ties between Senate and CUA so that both can more effectively serve the student population. 

CRI: Carroll said that their platform centers on the three pillars of Change, Respond, and Impact. First, they want to change how Jewell administration and on-campus organizations interact. They want to do this by actively facilitating meetings and forums. Secondly, they want to respond to what students want. This will involve going to clubs, directly engaging with other organizations by reaching out to them and hosting meetings to hear from small groups of students. Finally, Carroll said these changes will impact the community by being responsive to desires and giving a voice to those organizations and students that feel unheard.

Why do you think your Cabinet is representative of the student body?

YVOH said they recognize their Cabinet is composed of all students involved in Greek life, but they are also all involved in other activities. They will draw from different avenues, bring different perspectives and are all different individuals. They are willing to talk to all students and are eager to sit down and listen to any student.

CRI said they represent different, diverse interests. The Cabinet consists of both individuals in Greek life and independents, students in multicultural organizations, people involved with athletic teams like dance and people in theater. They said their Cabinet is not just a group of people with similar ideas and goals, but they are a group coming from different – potentially conflicting – perspectives. The Cabinet noted how this tension is a good thing in order to give everyone a voice and to produce effective and responsive action.

Do you have plans for how you will partner with other student organizations?

YVOH emphasized their desire to foster an improved relationship between CUA and Senate. They noted that there is often over-programming at Jewell from competing – not collaborative – organizations which leads to low student attendance. They want to provide funding to clubs with well-planned events and have a desire to potentially host more prominent events to increase student turnout.

CRI said they want to focus on giving a voice to unheard organizations and organizations desiring better communication between Senate, the College and student organizations. They want to act as the connection to administration and to seek, share and implement feedback they get from organizations.

What do you think is the state of Campus Safety’s relationship with students, and how can your Cabinet improve them?

YVOH: Eggleston said campus safety’s relationship with students is negligent. She said there is no real relationship between the student body and officers. She proposed that campus safety officers should be introduced to students so there is a pre-existing personal connection when students need campus safety’s help. Eggleston emphasized the need for students to have quick access to campus safety and a comfortable relationship, especially when they are in situations in which they are scared. She said Senate needs to reevaluate issues of reporting, receiving fast, immediate response and student engagement with campus safety. She also expressed a desire for the school to hire more officers who are women.

Response: Carroll responded that she doesn’t see any practical way for Student Senate to address the issues Eggleston addressed, like hiring more women officers.

CRI: Slaughter said he doesn’t think students know of campus safety beyond seeing their vehicles drive around campus. He said that Senate should help make closer the relationship between campus safety and students by fostering more conversation about how to better make students feel safe on campus.

How are you going to engage independent students on campus? Greek life students? How are you going to promote cohesion between the two groups?

YVOH said they need to intentionally appoint independent students to senator positions if such a need arises. They recognize that the cabinet is not fully representative of independent students and would appoint such students to ensure Student Senate is representative of the student body. They said in the past that appointed senators have often been people in Greek Life and that this trend needs to change. They also want to promote cohesion between independents and people in Greek life and promote independent student involvement by changing times of Senate meetings to be during the day. This would allow commuter students – who are often independent – more of an opportunity to be involved in Senate.

CRI said that it is not a secret that there is not a lot of cohesion between Greek students and independent students. Despite a perception that Greek students are more involved on campus, they are not the majority on campus. This means independent students often feel unheard as the majority, especially when a cabinet is composed of all Greek life members. The Cabinet will specifically reach out to students and groups who have not been as involved in the past. They hope this will contribute to fixing the perception that independent students are less involved.

Response: Pennington responded that Senate should not be operating with the assumption that the Cabinet should have one-to-one representation. He clarified that a Cabinet of qualified, dedicated and knowledgeable people can be just as representative even without independent students. Pennington said a Senate Cabinet should be made of people who understand the community best.

How do you plan to keep the campus community informed about Senate initiatives?

YVOH: Garbe said that communication from Senate has been ineffective – specifically that Moodle is not effective. Garbe wants to re-activate the website first, move away from Moodle, post meeting minutes on the website and make social media more engaging by sharing more than just meeting minutes. She also wants to not only keep the community informed about Senate initiatives but also initiatives from other organizations.  

CRI: Villarreal said that while meeting minutes definitely need to be sent out, Senate also needs to actively engage with the student body. This means considering their audience and the most effective ways to communicate and then taking advantage of things like social media. Especially when physical contact is more difficult, she wants to take advantage of what social media can do and provide comfort in that regard. 

If elected, what will your Cabinet do to contribute to diversity and inclusivity on Jewell’s campus and in implementing the goals of the radical inclusivity initiative?

YVOH: Eggleston said, so as to help alleviate issues, her Cabinet will allocate budget to the multicultural organizations, re-form CART, create a better place for people to be heard and emphasize the need for people of color in Jewell’s mental health resources. She said everyone’s opinions should be valued and her Cabinet is dedicated to reevaluating at all issues.

CRI: Carroll said it is important to give clubs voices and get everyone involved. She expressed the need to emphasize intentionality – especially given the College’s dedication to radical inclusivity. Carrol said her Cabinet will specifically seek out organizations that have been devalued – like the International Students Association, of which Mpuan is a part, that is often not sought out during conversations of diversity and inclusion. Carroll said they will promote diversity and inclusion by going specifically to multicultural organizations and asking what they need from Senate.

How does your Cabinet plan to invest the Senate budget?

YVOH: Hawkins said the Cabinet would allocate a percentage of the budget to multicultural clubs, but would also want to treat all clubs equally. She emphasized that Greek life will not be funded by Senate money. She wants to invest money in well-thought-out, not tiddly, events.

CRI: Mpuan said he will first put money to events in line with the College’s mission. He will institute expense limits and assess levels of impact when considering funding clubs and events. He said the Cabinet will need to make sure events are meaningful and that Senate is investing in the right activities. Mpuan said he would like to see more emphasis on collaboration – like with resident assistant events, more of a focus on events and wiser spending from Senate.

How will your Cabinet engage faculty and staff as members of the Jewell community?

YVOH: Pennington said that engaging faculty and staff is extremely important. He noted that the best thing about Jewell is that it is a small school – which allows us to have such close relationships with administration and other faculty and staff. Pennington emphasized the need for better communication with administration – beyond the occasional Coffee with the Prez. He suggested implementing more town halls and instituting presidential addresses by Dr. MacLeod Walls so she can address student concerns in a more formal, public manner.

CRI: Slaughter emphasized the need to engage faculty and staff as actual members of the community. He said he really likes the professors at Jewell and has enjoyed his personal experiences with them. Thus, he thinks it worthwhile to set up easier ways to engage with faculty who are not necessarily one’s professors in order to get student ideas on the table.

Will your Cabinet build on the efforts of past cabinets? If so, how?

YVOH said they will be building on previous cabinets because previous efforts shouldn’t die out. While the landscape of the College will change, the Cabinet sees the need to keep base ideas and then make changes and build upon them. The main efforts the Cabinet would continue are on issues of diversity and implementing a student needs closet, but they emphasized there needs to be a follow-through system.

CRI said they won’t be building on things that didn’t work but will be elaborating on what is successful. They emphasized the need to focus on inclusivity and making the college a better place. The Cabinet noted that Coffee with the Prez hasn’t worked as intended and thus they will focus on ways to get specific, smaller groups in communication with administration in order to voice concerns. They will target specific groups, athletic organizations and multicultural organizations and will encourage administration to attend club meetings. 

What is your Cabinet’s relationship to Student Life and the College’s administration? How will this impact your leadership?

YVOH said they have a really good relationship with both Student Life and administration. Every member of the Cabinet has worked with student life, whether through the Shape Your Future program, nonprofit leadership or sorority executive committees. They are dedicated to making the relationship actually effective and want to be able to call on Student Life to inform students and Senate about what they may not know. The Cabinet wants to continue bringing in members of administration and Student Life to give presentations in order to educate Senate.

CRI said all of their members are familiar with Student Life and have been involved their entire time at Jewell. They know both who needs to make the calls from Senate and how change gets actually implemented. They emphasized their leadership skills and ability to articulate what one student has to say in order to get it to administration to respond. They reiterated they have a diversified cabinet with reach in many different areas in order to engage many different people from the community, and they said getting that engagement through to Student Life is imperative.

How do you intend to dispel the notion that Student Senate is a do-nothing organization?

YVOH said they will outline specific materials they want to follow and will hold themselves accountable. This entails keeping the Cabinet structured, providing a basis upon which they can build and grow structures and creating a weekly agenda which will be periodically reviewed to keep Senate accountable.

CRI said it is important to change the perception because a lot of people think that once the Cabinet is elected there is no follow-through. The Cabinet emphasized they will not just be saying students should come talk to them, but they will actually seek out clubs and organizations to actively engage with them. They want to become more involved in other projects and have already contacted most of the multicultural organizations to see what students want, so they can be actively, not passively, engaged.

What do your Cabinets think about the current COVID-19 policies? Would your Cabinet change any of the current policies?

YVOH: Pennington provided a caveat that the Cabinet is quite cautious about thinking that Senate has any authority over COVID-19 policies. 

“We are by no means experts at determining the proper course of action to contain a pandemic,” said Pennington. 

He then said the Cabinet is dedicated to encouraging rigorous engagement with COVID-19 communication from administration and other avenues. He said they will push everything the College says regarding COVID-19 – whether this be through talking about policies in Senate news or meetings. 

CRI: Slaughter said that currently the College is doing a good job and that  there is a long way to go, but policies are working so far. He emphasized that students crucially need more communication about what the College is doing and when there are changes so that students are in the loop. 

Given the new changes to Jewell’s Title IX policies, would you say your cabinet is informed on the new process and how do you plan to make sure every student is as well?

YVOH: Garbe said their Cabinet is aware of the changes and said there is always work to be done regarding Title IX. She emphasized the need to educate and keep students informed because one training at the beginning of first year is inadequate. She advocated more consistent training in addition to setting up a booth in the Union to educate about Title IX and cooperation with the Title IX office. 

CRI: Carroll said the Title IX process is a problem and not just because the rules have changed. She presented her Cabinet’s three-pronged approach: First, they want to educate by hosting forums about consent and bystander education – emphasizing the need for continued, not one-time, education. Second, they want to facilitate meetings between publicly identified survivors and administration in order to better inform College policies and so that the College is aware of the experiences of survivors. Third, Carroll explained the need for Senate to create a climate survey about sexual assault on campus – which is designated a best practice by Department of Justice but is not currently implemented at Jewell.

Audience questions centered on the implementation of effective, lasting policies by Senate. Both Cabinets expressed their commitments to reinvigorating Senate. 

Students may watch a recording of the debate here.

Catherine Dema

Catherine Dema is the page editor for Features & Investigations on The Hilltop Monitor. She is a senior majoring in Oxbridge: History of Ideas and physics.

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