Interview with Student Senate: What you may have missed at the Nov. 3 Town Hall

“Pursue a Meaningful Life.” Photo by Catherine Dema.

On Nov. 3, William Jewell College’s Student Senate hosted their first Town Hall meeting of the academic year. At the meeting, the Student Senate Cabinet and six Senate Commissioners presented proposed initiatives that they plan to work on throughout the upcoming semesters. After the presentation, those  in attendance were encouraged to ask questions and discuss additional issues not addressed by the Senate Commissioners.

In 2021, Student Senate narrowed down their list of student representatives to include just a handful of Commissioners to represent six aspects of life at Jewell: Academic Affairs; Diversity and Inclusion; Student-Athletics; Residence Life; Greek Life; and Student Involvement. Accordingly, each Commissioner is responsible for addressing issues raised by students regarding those specific areas, while the Student Senate Cabinet oversees the organization’s operations.

Among the 2022-23 Senate Commissioners is a temporary student representative specifically dedicated to resolving any mold issues experienced by students.

A common theme of the presentations and the Town Hall — as well as the interviews below — is the importance of student involvement to Student Senate’s mission. Student Senate hopes to improve Jewell through changes that are meaningful and important to students. The Senate explains, however, this can only accomplished if they know what the student body feels needs to be improved. Student Senate asks the student body to attend the future Town Hall meetings and to reach out at any time to suggest changes or discuss challenges. Student Senate can be reached via email at Each Senate Commissioner can also be contacted through their individual emails (listed below). 

The Nov. 6 Town Hall meeting was an introduction to this year’s Student Senate Cabinet, the Commissioners and their goals. Below is an interview with three Senate Commissioners and a summary of the initiatives put forth for this year.

President of Student Senate and Senate Commissioner for Academic Affairs Ben Wardlow, sophomore Oxbridge institutions and policy, and philosophy major.

How long have you been a part of Student Senate?

This is my second year of serving on Student Senate. Last year I was the Senator for Academic Affairs.

Is there anything you would like the students to know about you?

Despite holding the position of Student Senate President for only three months, serving the students of William Jewell College has been one of my greatest honors and privileges. 

On the Hill, in addition to the roles I hold in Student Senate, I am a Cardinal Host and a Cardinal Blazer. I am majoring in both Oxbridge institutions & policy and philosophy. Off the Hill, I am a fellow in the 2022-23 National Humanities Leadership Council and am an intern at the law firm of Johnson, Vorhees and Martucci.

What is the most valuable information you want students to know about the Nov. 3 Town Hall?

The Town Hall was intended to convey to all students the issues and initiatives that each Senator is resolved to work on this year. A majority of those issues and initiatives are [detailed below].

When can we expect another town hall?

Student Senate is planning to host another Town Hall in February 2023. The exact date of that Town Hall is [yet to be determined].

Is there anything else you would like to add?

This year, Student Senate has already dealt with, and will continue to deal with, issues that significantly impact the quality of the student experience. The individuals who compose this year’s Student Senate are both competent to serve – and passionate about serving – the student body. However, the extent to which Student Senate is effective in promoting the quality of the student experience is dependent on how engaged the student body chooses to be in Student Senate’s initiatives. Consequently, I challenge all Jewell students to become more engaged with the efforts of Student Senate.

Senate Commissioner for Diversity and Inclusion Erin Wenzel, first-year psychology major.

How long have you been a part of Student Senate?

This is my first year.

Is there anything you would like the students to know about you?

Part of having that job title means that I’m working with the Diversity and Inclusion department here at [Jewell]. The majority of what I’m doing this year is working with students and student groups to better understand the issues [that] students are facing.

What is the most valuable information you want students to know about the Nov. 3 Town Hall?

The most important point I want people to take away from the town hall is this: If you see a problem here at Jewell that you feel the Student Senate should address, then please reach out and tell us. 

My job – and the job of everyone else on the Senate – is to serve the students of Jewell. Unfortunately, we are a relatively small group of people when compared to the student body, which means there are many problems students face that we are unaware of. To combat this we turn to you, the students, and ask you to use your voice and bring these issues to our attention. We can only find solutions to problems we are aware of, so if there is a problem going unanswered by the Senate, then make us aware. Come to Town Hall meetings, email [Student] Senate or even message the Commissioners directly. Use your voice so that we can use ours. Together we can create a campus environment that is safer, stronger and more inclusive for all students, both current and future. 

The Student Senate email is:

What can students expect from you this year?

There are two big problems I will be working to solve this year. First, I will be addressing the deadnaming issue in the student records and emails. I’ll be working to find a more permanent solution –  rather than students being forced to manually change their name in the records each year, only for the problem to repeat in the following year.

Second, I will be working to improve the accessibility of Jewell’s campus. This could include building a ramp or other wheelchair-accessible devices outside of the Mathes dorm building as there are [currently] no wheelchair accessible entrances to the building. This project will potentially extend further into the coming years as the planning and approval process, as well as construction, could take longer than the time remaining in this school year.

Senate Commissioner for Students’ Charter of Rights and Responsibilities Matthew Parker, first-year Oxbridge institutions and policy major.

How long have you been a part of Student Senate?

I am a freshman, so this is my first year on Student Senate. I’ve been intending to be part of Student Senate since I decided to attend Jewell, having learned about Student Senate from the current President Ben Wardlow while on a campus visit in April of this year.

Is there anything you would like the students to know about you?

As a member of Student Senate, my dedication is to a pair of principles. The first is that Senators are here to express and actualize the will of the students whom they represent, and the second is that Senators must put the good of the student body and of the College before personal expediency. I hope — and indeed believe — that I speak for all of Student Senate in affirming that I will be operating by these principles for my entire time on Student Senate, this academic year and hopefully beyond.

What is the most valuable information you want students to know about the Nov. 3 Town Hall?

The Student Senate Town Halls are your best opportunity to express your perspective as a student to us as members of Student Senate, and [attending] is the best way for us as members of that Senate to do our job of representing you and your interests accurately and fairly.

What can students expect from you this year?

What students can expect from us as Student Senate is that we as a collective will work to collaborate with both students and college administration to improve the student experience at Jewell and to improve the currently strained state of student-administration relations. What students can expect from me personally is a visible and active presence in the student body, a ready ear willing to listen to your views and wishes and a dedicated representative who will serve the interests of his community.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

If I would add one thing, it would be a simple plea to the Jewell community: Be involved with Student Senate; participate in the Town Halls; discuss challenges you are facing with members of the Senate. You have the power to improve your student experience, and we as Student Senate are here to serve as the tools for you to express your wishes, but your wishes are only heard and acted on if we can hear your voice.

Senate Commissioner for Student-Athletics Aubrey Avalos, junior political science and international relations major.

How long have you been a part of Student Senate? 

I have been a part of the Senate since September of this year. 

Is there anything you would like the students to know about you?

I am a super-involved student and am here to help all students. I obviously primarily focus on athletes, but I am here to help Jewell be a better place for all students. If there is anything you think would be helpful, please let me know. I love talking about new ideas.

What is the most valuable information you want students to know about the Nov. 3 Town Hall?

 At the townhall I announced my major initiatives I am working on. These include:

  1. Increasing mental health resources for student-athletes. I am currently working with school administration to seek out specialized mental health resources for student-athletes. 
  1. Creating a better balance between academics and athletics. To aid student-athletes – and any other organizations – with academics when traveling, we are working on getting [Wi-Fi] hotspots for students that are traveling for Jewell-related activities.
  1. Our last goal is more intended for the whole student body. We are attempting to create an overall better athletics experience. What this means is making the game environment more energetic and active. We are working with the [Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)] to plan some fun activities during basketball season. We are also working with other Commissioners to pursue long-term goals like creating a better game culture at Jewell.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I would like to add, on the last goal, if you have ANY input please let me know. I want to hear from as many students as possible to learn about what the student body wants to see at athletics events.

General issues and initiatives of Student Senate

Senate Cabinet

General Initiatives

  1. Generate incentives that encourage more students to stay on campus during the weekends.
  2. Ensure that the Charter of Students’ Rights and Responsibilities is respected.
  3. Secure more convenient dining hall hours on weekends, specifically during conventional breakfast hours.
  4. Improve the quality of lighting on campus.

Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

  1. Make campus more wheelchair accessible.
  2. Rectify the issue of deadnaming with regards to student emails and financial aid services.
  3. Roll out the Intercultural Development Inventory.

Student-Athletics Initiatives

  1. Provide mental health resources that are specifically designed for student-athletes.
  2. Improve both student turnout and active engagement at sporting events.
  3. Provide hotspots for student-athletes to use for homework while traveling to and from sporting events.

Residence Life Initiatives

  1. Ensure that the quality of Wi-Fi is improved, potentially by way of a campus-wide network that would enable students to use electronics outdoors.
  2. Improve the bathroom conditions (such as securing or repairing paper towel dispensers).
  3. Ensure that every dorm on campus does not pose health risks, specifically health risks generated by mold.

Mold-Related Initiatives

  1. Ensure that all Jewell spaces used by students are safe and pleasant by eradicating any mold that poses health risks or is surface level. 

Student Involvement Initiatives

  1. Create a calendar that contains every Jewell event and can be accessed at the homepage of every student’s Brightspace.
  2. Improve the promotion of all Jewell achievements (such as students or faculty presenting at conferences, receiving awards, etc.).
  3. Modify the Jewell Activities and Organizations website to include new clubs, remove obsolete clubs and renovate existing clubs to include their social media and contact information. 

Greek Life Initiatives

  1. Ensure that there are equal mental health and safety resources for each Greek Organization.
  2. Provide printers to each wing of the Sorority Complex.
  3. Create a fraternity wide philanthropy event.

Summary of Initiatives provided by Wardlow.

Student Senate’s logo, provided by Student Senate.

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