16 new senators sworn into office on Monday under the CPP exec ticket
By Hunter Ellis | Staff Writer
The Student Government Association (SGA) officially commenced its 2020 term under the direction of a new executive board and with 16 new senators who were sworn into office on Monday afternoon.
The 2020 senate, led by President Thomas Wehby, as well as his fellow executives Mickey Townsend and Mahnoor Zahra, began their work before the semester commenced, as only 17 of the 20 senator positions were filled in the November elections. Upon their election, the executive team conducted an application process to fill the vacated spots.
“The spots are now filled and we have a full board, but it was a big concern, and student event turnout and engagement in general has been low,” Wehby said.
Wehby also added that the low rates of student involvement that affected the senate are not unique to Xavier.
“One thing I’ve been told by administrators here and as well as in talking to other Jesuit universities, (student engagement) isn’t just a problem for us, it’s across the country,” he said.
During the course of their term, the now-full senate will tackle individual projects and endeavors in various SGA committees, such as the Academic Affairs Committee, the Student Organizations Committee, the Student Rights and Identity Committee and the Campus On and Off Living Committee.
In addition to these returning committees, one of Wehby’s primary objectives for the semester is to reestablish a committee to review changes and amendments to the constitution. Though the proposed amendments late last semester caused tension between senate executives and the Board of Elections, Wehby plans on readdressing these changes during this term.
“This is a big thing,” Wehby said. “We are going to reestablish the committee to look at the constitution to see if there are changes that need to be made.”
Another project that will continue to be at the top of the priority list, and has been a topic for several years, is providing women’s menstrual products in bathrooms on campus.
“We want to work with the University of Loyola-Chicago’s student government, who are a fellow Jesuit university and who has had feminine care products provided to students for several years, as well as with Physical Plant on campus to get those products available for students on campus,” Wehby said.
After discussion with many previous executive boards, Wehby believes that this will be the year that feminine products will be freely available to students in bathrooms across campus.
At this time, this initiative is being led by one of just four returning senators, Kate Roach.
During this Monday’s meeting, Roach mentioned she has been in contact with a company who provided these products on another college campus in Cincinnati. According to Roach, the next steps in the project are to figure out where on campus the initiative will begin and maintain contact with university staff.
Additionally, Wehby plans to work with Physical Plant to organize and set up permanent hammock spaces on the Xavier yard before the fall.
“In the past few years, I’ve seen a decrease in the overall usage of the yard, and I feel like having hammocks or charging stations available would help increase the utility of the space,” Wehby said.
Finally, Wehby comments on the accessibility of the SGA executives, saying that he plans to make the senate more visible to the student body.
“In the last year, SGA as an organization did not host enough events, we weren’t in the crowd with the people, we weren’t seeking them out,” Wehby said.
This year, SGA plans to go out into the campus and set up events where a senator or an executive will be available to talk to students who have questions or concerns.
Individual senators have also begun to express their agendas for the coming term. In particular, first-year Senator Ryan Machesky hopes to pursue a newfound togetherness between commuter students and residential students at Xavier.
“I feel like if we can get commuter students more involved in on campus activities, it can go a long way to improving the decreasing participation in activities around campus,” he said.
Machesky, a commuter student himself, is advocating for other students who are commuters, which comprise approximately 25% of Xavier’s undergraduate population.
Another first-year student, Senator Daniel Joyce, spoke of the many challenges facing the new SGA, but remains hopeful for the future. While having 16 new senators could pose challenging for the group, Joyce believes that it is possible for much to be accomplished this term.
“One of the strongest points of this group is (that) I think we will be able to establish better communication with our peers,” Joyce said. “There are a lot of passionate senators who are ready to listen and create communication with their peers and advocate for what the students feel.”
Senate meetings take place on Mondays from 3:00-5:00 p.m. in the Office of Student Involvement. They remain open to the general student population.