As Hendrix enters a new Fall semester, things seem to be looking up for the student body. Activities are coming back in full due to our campus’ extremely high vaccination rate. Students and Faculty are getting back to normal classes after shrugging off two whole semesters of virtual or quasi-virtual education. Everyone is back on campus, and while we are certainly masked up, the campus is teeming with life it hasn’t seen in more than a year. Yet, despite the optimism granted to us by a more normal semester, students are still facing many difficulties and turning to their Student Senate to work on it. The Profile was given an excellent chance to sit down with many of Hendrix’s elected Student Senator’s to get a grasp of many of the issues on campus right now, and what the Student Senate plans to do about it.
Fresh off the fall election, newly elected Freshman Class Senator Parker Keener and newly elected Galloway Hall Senator Swalat Issa share many of the same concerns about Hendrix. Parker, a native to Arkansas, has been working hard on chronic internet issues on Campus while Swalat, an international student from Rwanda, is focusing her efforts on chronic water and maintenance issues in Galloway. When The Profile asked Parker why he decided to run to represent the Freshman Class in Senate, he replied, “I want to give the Freshman class an accessible representative who they feel they can come to—who will fight for their common goals and interests.” It is certainly undeniable that student concerns about the internet are widespread on campus—the first Senate meeting of the fall prominently featured students’ concerns on that front. Swalat is no stranger to student government, holding a position similar to the Academic Policy Representative at her school in Rwanda. She told The Profile that she “finds Senate very, very interesting. Students take time to listen to all the concerns around school. It shows teamwork and cooperation. It’s really great that people can speak up if they disagree. Every issue is taken seriously—no matter how big or small—it’s just great.”
However, it wasn’t just the two newest Senators expressing a positive outlook towards this school year. Chief of Staff Rebecca Burks, a Junior Biology and Environmental Studies double major, provided the magazine with an extensive overview of the many things Student Senate is trying to accomplish this semester. For one, Student Senate, in an effort led by Huntington Senator Mitch Bandy, managed to pass a petition asking the Conway City Council for a long-desired crosswalk between the P-safe building and Huntington apartments. The City of Conway is committed to installing the crosswalk because of the Senate’s efforts in gathering support for the project. Secondly, Senate Treasurer Tristen Starnes is working to incentivize students to join Senate’s Financial Committee and take a larger role in how Senate allocates the Student Activity Fund by working with Odyssey to grant Financial Committee members an opportunity for Odyssey credit. To top all of this activity off, Student Senate is opening three new taskforces to work on Elections and updating the Senate Constitution, Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness, and relations between Public Safety and Students. Houses Senator Lauren Allen told The Profile that she hopes the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Task Force will work closely with Title IX and ABEPSA to provide support for survivors and put on an event week for sexual assault prevention and awareness.
Rebecca is also working closely with Academic Policy Representative, Phineas Chapman, on creating a Student Academic Policy Committee so Senate can address student’s academic concerns better. The Senate Diversity Resolution from 2020 mandated that Senate create a new Student Academic Policy Committee; Phineas and Rebecca are hard at work figuring out how to pragmatically implement the Committee into student life. However, AP Rep. Phineas’ first priority is working with the Faculty led Council on Academic Policy to change the school’s “outdated” credit/no-credit policy that Phineas calls “remarkably restrictive.” Phineas told The Profile that faculty has been very responsive to changing the credit/no credit policy to make it work better for students and that he has a “fair amount of confidence” that changes will get done sometime this Fall semester. Phineas started this crusade to change credit/no credit after hearing from students about how the policy has negatively affected their academic experience. He wanted to make sure The Profile got this quote, “If a student hears about any academic policy—from a professor, friend, whatever—and they think its dumb, or over-restrictive, or frustrating. I encourage them to reach out to me.”
Hendrix is entering a new Fall semester, and Student Senate is energetically leading the way.