This is the 101st year of Wheaton College Student Government, and we could not be more grateful for the opportunity to uphold the legacy of previous student leaders, who have played a critical role in positively impacting campus life. Over the past century, SG has played a vital role in various campus policies like forming the current chapel skip policy, expanding the programs of study offered and advocating for dancing on campus. More subtle changes include the installation of the ATM in Anderson Commons and the implementation of Reading Day on the Monday before finals. It is the 2021-22 SG board’s goal to live up to a legacy of attentively adjusting practices and policies at Wheaton for the students’ benefit and to serve the entire student body while doing so. In this digest, we will chronicle what we are striving to accomplish this year.
Over the past semester, SG added three members to its board. Among these, as part of the September freshmen elections, were two freshmen class co-presidents. After a tight race that saw over 70% of freshmen voting, Jack Murphy and Soolynn Lee triumphed. It was not until Oct. 13, however, that all board member positions were filled. Student Body President Hayden Sledge appointed Rohan Suri to fill a vacancy in the senior class co-president position. The board unanimously approved his appointment, and Suri’s positive impact within the SG board was immediate.
Sledge and Student Body Vice President Mason Laney have been meeting biweekly with President Philip Ryken, Vice President of Student Development Paul Chelsen, and Dean of Student Engagement Steve Ivester. In October, Sledge met with the board of trustees for a day and a half of active discussions about the college’s future. Executive vice presidents, as well as Laney, also sat on various Board of Trustees Committees, including Academic Affairs, Advancement, Vocation, Alumni Engagement, Buildings and Facilities, and Finance. Moreover, SG has been participating in five faculty committees – Faculty Council, Academic Policies, Research and Evaluation of Student Learning, Diversity, and Financial Affairs – and has been reporting to faculty business meetings. It was through these avenues that SG advocated for students on topics such as dual modality and AHS 101.
In September, we heard concerns from students across campus about overly-limited access to the classroom while close-contacted, quarantined or isolated due to COVID-19. Student Government responded to these concerns by advocating directly to the provost, dean of student wellness, and president. We discussed potential solutions and, with sponsorship from Executive Vice Presidents Ella Wickham and Katie Molloy, unanimously passed Proposal 12R5: Recommendation for an Updated and Clarified Dual-Modality Policy. In response, the Senior Administrative Cabinet updated the student body about dual-modality learning opportunities in a Sept. 21 email. These included encouraging professors to employ USB speakerphones to offer live Teams access to the classroom, to delegate a student to facilitate live remote access to the classroom, to distribute class recordings, and to offer extended office hours or other opportunities outside of class hours. You can read more about it in the Record’s article “Student Government Advocates for Quarantined Students Struggling in Classes.”
On Oct. 4, Student Government launched a survey that was designed to collect student input about AHS 101: Wellness. Less than a week later, we had just under 1,000 responses! The survey gave us helpful insight into what students think of the course and what improvements they would like to see implemented. We discussed the survey data with members of the administration and then unanimously passed Proposal 12R13: Recommended Improvements to AHS 101: Wellness. The recommendations outlined in the proposal included clarifying how AHS 101 examinations were conducted; examining how AHS 101 addresses eating disorders, weight management and mental health; providing greater clarification as to what resources are available for students taking the class who face physical, mental or spiritual struggles; and intentionally working with instructors on how to engage diverse experiences and teach sensitive course content.
These recommendations will be employed as part of the course evaluation starting in January 2022. Thank you to all the students who took the survey; your input was invaluable in assuring that SG continues to actively and accurately represent the needs of the student body!
Sledge and Laney worked with Chelsen to set up 10 focus groups surrounding platforms for student expression on campus. These focus groups, along with the data from last year’s public expression survey, will be used to launch a new platform for campus discourse in the spring. Student Government has been striving to advance campus discussions in a meaningful and productive way. Most importantly, this entails listening to as many students as possible. As part of this pursuit, Executive Vice President of Community Diversity Brianna Barba and her committee helped spearhead a racialized minority student dialogue with the Senior Administrative Cabinet. We intend to continue encouraging similar conversations across campus as the year progresses.
There are a plethora of additional initiatives taken up by the SG board over this past semester. In our very first board meeting of the school year, we established two task forces: the Pandemic Task Force,which has been moved to an online portal on the SG webpage on the Wheaton website, and the Student Engagement Task Force, who wrote this digest. Moreover, Business & Services Manager Alex Vlaisavich confirmed monetary allocations to 25 clubs, and Administrative Manager Stephen Stapleton began to release audio recordings of our board meetings to the Record. Class Co-President Suri rallied support for installing the United Kingdom’s flag in Saga— an addition which has now been made— and EVP of Technology and Campus Services Mia Posey and EVP of Student Life and Engagement Noah Rendon passed a proposal encouraging a new addition to housing applications that would allow students to volunteer to live with a transfer student. Rendon also worked with CCP Murphy to bring back the student section at football games, coordinating with athletics to launch a raffle with a number of prizes, including a TV. EVP of Global Engagement Joseph Park spearheaded an SG Thanksgiving dinner for students who stayed on campus during Thanksgiving, and EVP of Campus Sustainability Elise Bounds obtained funding for a new water bottle filler to be installed in Lower Beamer. On top of all of this, EVP of Academic Affairs Katie Molloy has been working away on our Conference Presentation and Attendance Grants Program, which allocates thousands of dollars to students who seek to present research or simply attend academic conferences. You can apply on the SG website, if you are interested.
This semester has been full of hard work and new initiatives by all of the EVPs, as well as a semester of community building by your class co-presidents. CCPs have hosted events from Powder Puff Tailgate and the SG Showcase to the Senior Class Worship Night and Terrace Trick or Treat, and they look forward to hosting events next semester such as the Lunar New Year celebration and the Senior Minorities Recognition Ceremony.
Here are a few highlights of what your CCPs have been doing during the fall 2021 semester:
The Freshman Class Co-Presidents Murphy and Lee have hit the ground running, and since their successful campaign in September, they have been actively building a class council and preparing to host events for their class. Murphy and Lee are looking forward to hosting their class in a Lunar New Year celebration, Hot Chocolate Hangout, Town Halls and many worship nights to come. The Sophomore Class Co-Presidents Andrew Kirk and Jillian Edwards have done everything from help with the sale and promotion of the Wheatie Cards at the beginning of the year to partnering with the CVC for programming. However, their biggest project this semester was the SG Showcase. This event allowed people to learn more about Student Government, share ideas and meet their representatives. The Junior Class Co-Presidents Connor Woodin and Melissa McCollum packed a number of community-focused events into the early months of the semester. They hosted a worship night, a Junior Class Powder Puff Tailgate and Terrace Trick or Treat. Looking into the future, Woodin and McCollum are excited to host their first Town Hall, partner with the CVC on events, and host a Christmas festival. The Senior Class Co-Presidents Sean Kim and Rohan Suri kicked off the year with a life-giving night of worship. Seniors were able to gather, hear about their Senior Class Council’s vision for the senior class and hear from Nathan Fruh. The night concluded with a communal foot washing. As they look forward to their last semester at Wheaton, Kim and Suri are excited to host a Senior Testimony Night, have the Senior Minorities Recognition Ceremony, prepare the Senior Gift, plan the Senior Banquet and ultimately celebrate at Commencement.
This semester has been a blessing for each of us on the SG Board, and we could not be more grateful for the moments that we have been able to spend in service of the student body. If you would like to contact Student Government, you can email email@example.com, talk to any SG representatives found on the SG website or meet us during our office hours in the SIO every Monday from 7-8 p.m. We would love to hear from you!
That is all from us. Look out for more SG events and initiatives in the spring!