This week I had the opportunity to sit down with Student Senate Vice President, and currently acting President, senior, Brennan Canuteson, about the changes Senate is making during the 2015-2016 school year.
Q: What major changes has Student Senate made for the 2015-2016 school year?
A: We are working on rebranding and restructuring. The internal structure has changed. We’ve switched up our committees, and we now have the following in addition to regular cabinet: community advancement, policy and communications. We have also added liaison roles so that we have a continuous communication channel between Senate and other groups on campus.
Q: From which changes do you think students will benefit the most?
A: The Apple TV is one that students will definitely see, and it will have a big impact on day-to-day life.
Q: On which new policies are you looking to continue expanding?
A: Aside from the new transgender policies being made, we are still working on the smoking policy. We’re looking into the use of the word “carrying.”
Q: What are the biggest changes being made to the Student Handbook?
A: Student publications are currently not allowed pre-marital sex. We’re trying to remove this because it is something that was probably left over from when we were a Baptist college and something that was just never really looked at before. Within the Student Handbook, we have the charter of student rights. Every three years Senate reviews that with Student Life. We had that review session last week, and we talked about preliminary changes. Most of it is fairly straightforward, and things are still pretty much in line with the College’s policies. We might remove the mission statement from the charter. It is obviously still Jewell’s mission statement; it just wouldn’t be specifically in the charter.
Q: Does Student Senate propose changes? Whose job is that?
A: It depends on what specific change we’re looking at. Policy-wise, Shelly King is normally our person for that. A lot of times before that, though, we will go to Sara Bailey because she is our advisor and a member of Student Life. We’ll bring our ideas to her, and she can tell us what she thinks we need to flush out before we take the initial draft to Shelly. Once she has reviewed the policy, she will present it to Dr. Dema.
Q: Briefly describe the new transgender policy.
A: Right now we are working on finding gender-neutral bathrooms on campus and making those well-known and publicized. The policy itself will be separate, and that will look towards how we will handle housing on campus. The policy will also detail who students can go to talk to if they decide to transition. This designated point of contact will then fulfill the duties on the business end of Jewell.
Q: What is the motivation behind the new policy?
A: A lot of it came from Annie Murphey, [senior], who went to Oxford last year. The university was trying to get all of its colleges to adapt to a transgender policy. They had already had one written out, which is the base of what we are using for our policy. She was part of getting all of the colleges to implement that. She came back to Jewell and felt very passionate about it and got to see it play out through the course of the year. It was something she thought we should go after.
It is a difficult thing to go after, especially in an environment where there aren’t policies built out for it. The fact is that it is becoming very relevant to our college campus. Student Life has seen the need for a policy. It’s one of those things where it wasn’t an issue until we realized we needed a policy. Student Life has been very open to it and has been assessing the need for it. We have had a lot of support on their end on developing a transgender policy.
Q: When, where and how often does Student Senate meet?
A: Tuesdays at 6:30 in room 210 of the Union.
Q: Who in Senate can students talk to if they have any ideas for policy changes?
A: Students are welcome to post on Facebook and Twitter or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also come to Sunday night coffee in the PLC from 8-9 to voice any concerns they may have with a senator.