Student Senate approved the addition of a student apartments president on Wednesday, Feb. 17 as well as changes in the Secretary and Class President positions.
The Student Apartments President will have responsibilities similar to those of residence hall presidents including representing the concerns of residents to the Senate, meeting with student leaders and the Resident Director serving the apartments, and planning at least one event hosted by the apartments and one event exclusively for the apartments.
The Student Apartments President will also form a committee of apartment residents and submit a budget request to Senate.
Because the composition of senate positions is laid out in the Student Association of Covenant College Constitution, the student body must vote to add the role. Student Senate unanimously approved the amendment to add the position, so the student body will vote on the amendment in either a referendum election or the next regular election.
Senate voted on Saturday, Feb. 20, for the Student Apartment President to be elected in the fall semester along with the Freshman Class President.
Student Body President Travis Hutchinson said that it has been three years since there were any major changes in Senate structure. “It’s healthy for an organization to rethink structure every once in awhile,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson said that he discussed Student Apartments representation last fall with Student Development, who wanted to give more attention to the apartments.
Earlier this year, Student Senate had discussed whether off-campus students and residents of the student apartments needed a representative. They concluded that off-campus students could be consolidated under the Senior Class President, but that the student apartments do need a representative.
Maggie Duncan, a student who lived in the student apartments her first two semesters and will be moving back next fall for financial reasons, said there is a serious need for better representation of students living there.
While Covenant’s website says that living in the student apartments is “a great combination of community and independence,” Duncan said, “It’s frustrating to hear about community being so wrapped up in your hall, but in the student apartments, there’s no community, not much leadership, and there are no events.”
She said that some students move there because they don’t enjoy hall life, but most move because the apartments are less expensive than the residence halls.
She’s heard of some students who refuse to live in the apartments because of the lack of community. “It feels really isolated because it’s so far away from campus,” Duncan said. “You have to be super purposeful if you want to find out about events.”
Student Senate also said that residents of the apartments expressed a sense of underrepresentation in the senate and the school. Duncan agrees. She said that other than her class president, she wouldn’t know who to talk to on the senate.
“It’s the no-man’s-land,” Duncan said. “There’s nothing for the student apartments.”
Duncan wants to revive community in the apartments, and hopes that the new Student Apartment President can help.
“I do have hope that in the next few years the apartments will turn around. I think it will be a slow process, but hopefully it will start soon.”
Student Senate also made changes in a few other senate roles.
The Secretary is now the Communications Director and will no longer record minutes and attendance at Senate meetings. The Communications Director will appoint an Assistant to the Communications Director who will take over those tasks, and will also appoint and maintain a schedule for a Graphic Designer. The Communications Director will continue the other responsibilities of the secretary.
Hutchinson said that the focus of the position would be changing from a more internal role to an external role. “It’s more of a mindset or vision shift than an on-paper shift,” Hutchinson said.
Currently nearly all senate members are club liaisons, but with the new changes, all student clubs will be consolidated under the class presidents, who will train and oversee club leaders.
The type of events that the class presidents typically plan will also change. “We want the event focus to shift from more social to more education-focused,” Hutchinson said. He said that the Covenant Activities Board (CAB) and the Residence Hall Presidents already cover social events.
Also changing next year, the position of Class VIce President will be removed to make way for Residence Hall Vice Presidents. Jonathan Kelley, the resident hall president of Mac, said that the vice presidents usually help with planning events, so with the shift in the responsibilities of the class presidents, Senate has decided to move that role over to help the residence hall presidents.
Neither Class Vice Presidents nor Residence Hall Vice Presidents are members of the Student Senate and do not vote in Senate meetings.