Student Senate

 Student Senate Bulletin Board. Photo by Abby Whisler.

Student Senate Bulletin Board. Photo by Abby Whisler.

On Mar. 31, the student body elected a new Student Senate, composed of four executive positions, four Residence Hall Presidents, three Class Presidents, and a Campus Activities Board Director. Run-offs were held on Apr. 1. Only three of the winners were returning Senate members. Last week, the four executive Senate members, all rising Seniors, were interviewed about their expectations for the upcoming year, which included a closer focus on stewarding resources and expanding the Senate’s networking.

Travis Hutchinson, an Economics major and co-captain of the Varsity Tennis Team, ran for Student Body President and won uncontested. Next year will be Hutchinson’s third year on Senate, as he has previously served as Carter Hall President and Student Body Treasurer.

Hutchinson prides himself on being a “doer,” explaining that “with a ton of help,” he can implement other people’s ideas, such as last month’s Parking Forum.

“I believe there are two types of leaders: people who are doers, and people who come up with ideas,” writes Hutchinson. “Both are equally valid and equally important.”

One project Hutchinson hopes to realize next year is the Capital Expenditures Fund, first proposed by current Vice President Evan Weir, which is currently getting board approval. The fund is intended to create an endowment for money left unused at the end of the year, which can then be accessed by future Senates to purchase campus assets such as new furniture or pavement for parking.

“The only meaningful change is when you’re focusing on long-lasting implementation and long term goals,” says Hutchinson, who has already begun conversations with the new Student Body Treasurer, Simon Ocailap about the fund.

Simon Ocailap is a Business major with an Economics minor. Born and raised in Uganda, Ocailap came to the U.S. in his Freshman year. Since then he has fully joined in Covenant’s community, playing rugby and acting as Coordinator for the Diversity Program.

For Ocailap, serving on student government is about stewardship. “I just really want to serve,” says Ocailap. “I know we throw that around a lot here at Covenant...but, lately that has been really real for me, and I’ve gained ownership of that. I seek to give back to Covenant College and to the community that has welcomed me well.”

Though this is his first time in student government, Ocailap sees the responsibility of stewarding the Senate’s money well as a natural application for his education in business throughout his life. Ocailap also does not feel confined by the “stigma” of Treasurer, but as a Senator, Ocailap defines his purpose as being a voice for other students.      

Hutchinson and Ocailap are aided by the newly elected Student Body Vice President, Elizabeth Coats. Coats is on the Pre-Med track, and served as Student Body Secretary this year. Besides student government, Coats has experience as a Core Team leader, member of Carter Council, and Vice President of the Tri-Beta Biology Club. She ran unopposed.

“I wanted to do executive committee again because I really loved the meetings we had together. It was an extra level of involvement in Senate...” says Coats. “I enjoyed being Secretary, but sometimes taking notes in the meetings could be frustrating, especially if you’re wanting to participate in the discussion,” she says, laughing.

Next year, Coats hopes to be in more communication with UTC’s Student Senate, and possibly organize a conference with Senates at other Christian colleges. Another interest is helping student clubs have more accurate budget proposals. She and Hutchinson plan to spend the Fall establishing the ideas proposed by this year’s Senate, followed by a Spring of assessment and improvement.

An added responsibility of the Vice President will be selecting and overseeing the Senate’s Faculty Committee Representatives, while the new Student Body Secretary, Catherine Landers, will take over the Vice President’s normal job of meeting with the Publications Committee.

Catherine Landers is an English major with an Education minor. She has served on O-Team, has played on the Varsity Tennis Team for three years, and will live her fourth year on Third Central in the Fall. Next year will be her first on student government.

Landers explains that the Secretary role next year will be “outward facing,” which will involve collaborating with other student organizations, manning the Senate’s social media, and hiring a new graphic designer.

Landers says she was encouraged to run after talking with Coats, who helped her realize how her creativity, and specifically her “love for organization of the aesthetic," could contribute to Senate.

Students are invited to come to Senate meetings and approach the senators with questions at any time. As Ocailap says, “Senate’s an open book.”

The new Student Senate plans to have their first meeting on April 15.