This week “The Hilltop Monitor” sat down with Freja Ingelstam, a senior international relations major and the secretary of the Student Senate cabinet, to discuss the senate’s role in the college, their achievements last semester and their current projects to achieve before the year’s end.
Ingelstam stated that Senate will perform an integral and essential function in the community of William Jewell College.
“I think Senate should bridge the gap between the administration and the students and make the students’ voices heard,” she said. “I don’t think the senate is necessary in creating change, though I think it is a good way to do it. Also, Senate has access to a lot of resources, not just money, but we meet monthly with Dr. Dema and Dr. Macleod Walls and they express their concerns and we report what we’ve been doing on Jewell’s campus. Senate also helps to bring other on-campus organizations into contact so that they can work together. Rather than having an abundance of little pop-up events it…helps to organize bigger initiatives.”
“In terms of policy, we started working on a new alcohol policy. Senate also followed up on the condom proposal from last year” Ingelstam stated.
Ingelstam was referring to a proposal presented last year which called for condoms to be made available for free in all student dorms, distributed through dispensers. This proposal was led by QUILTBAG, the campus LGBTQ organization, in coordination with Senate members. Changes to the budget structure, specifically the restructuring of dorm life and the removal of hall committees, resulted in the proposal being altered in application. Instead of condoms being available in student dorms, there are now dispensers located in the health center in Ely Hall. Senate has been following up on this proposal in efforts to increase the accessibility of this resource for students.
Senate also held a number of events last semester and is planning to continue hosting and facilitating those, while also dedicating a large portion of their time and resources to changing and improving the current alcohol policy here at Jewell.
Currently, a completely new alcohol policy is being drafted and, as Ingelstam explains, it consists of four main parts: (a) reevaluating how students can drink in their rooms, particularly in regard to students who are under 21 and present while alcohol is being consumed; (b) expanding the tailgating policy on campus, in order to allow alcohol to be consumed at on-campus events; (c) altering the campus alcohol education policy in an effort to remove stigma around this subject, and; (d) [potentially] re-structuring the enforcement of the policy, whether or not the RAs (Resident Assistants) should be tasked with enforcing this policy or if it should be the responsibility of campus safety officers and RDs (Resident Directors).
Ingelstam stated that these proposals are being well-received by campus officials and estimates that the new policy will be presented for approval at the next trustee meeting this May.
“All of this is in discussion with Dr. Dema, and I think the biggest challenge will be getting this passed by the trustees, mostly due to liability concerns,” said Ingelstam. “We want to have this passed in the next trustee meeting, in May. But [beforehand] we are regularly bringing [the proposal] to the student life committee, who are on the board. We bring them different drafts and get their feedback. Hopefully [the new policy] will be in place by next Fall.”
Re-evaluating the alcohol policy is an uncommon occurrence at Jewell, and proposing this degree of policy change requires a great amount of time and the approval of multiple parties. However, as Ingelstam mentioned “this is important, as a lot of students are very unhappy about it and how it is being enforced. It causes a lack of trust.”
As well as re-structuring the alcohol policy, Senate, particularly Ben Shinogle, senior English and political science major, serving as vice president to the senate, are working on how to increase student attendance at events hosted by Jewell. Topics of discussion include whether it would be beneficial to have fewer but larger events, or whether it is possible to improve the way that campus events are communicated.
Initiatives led by senate to address this issue include a meeting, hosted by Shinogle, involving a number of on-campus student leaders, as well as the new initiative of the Jewell Town Hall which will become a monthly event. Jewell Town Hall is an event open to students and involving administration staff in order to facilitate communication between the student body and campus officials. The first of these events will be held Fri. March 24.
Additionally, the weekly email “Cardinal Chatter” has been replaced with the weekly “Senate Top 5” in an effort to increase student awareness of upcoming events. Ingelstam also emphasized that senate funding has become more available for other on campus groups to request.
Ingelstam also encouraged student to utilize the asset of Senate, and the resources available through this group. Senate meetings are held Tuesday evening in the Union and they are open to the entire student body. Minutes from these meetings, as well as funding request forms, can be found online at the official Jewell Senate website.