May 08, 2009 | Matt Decker
With the recent elections for student senate in the books, the new leadership, according to president-elect Ben Shoemaker, has set about planning out a course of action for their term.
“The main thing that I would like to do is further student involvement on campus,” said Shoemaker, who is a junior with a triple major in psychology, Spanish and international relations, “We talked with faculty about an idea of rewarding student involvement.”
Shoemaker outlined an idea that would reward students with one free admission to a Student Activities Office (SAO) event for attending 10 on-campus events. To qualify students could attend an entire range of attractions—from a lacrosse game to a club meeting. (An electronic card system would keep track of student attendance at the events.)
Shoemaker said that the administration liked the concept, and he feels as though it could be implemented. “If not an SAO concert, then maybe a quarter or a half-credit given as a student involvement credit could work to reach academic types. It is really just an idea, but it has a lot of potential.”
Shoemaker and team, which includes sophomore Aletheia Shin as vice president and sophomore Andrea Beukema as secretary, received 46 percent of the vote—1,013 total—in this year’s election.
Team “J.A.R.,” consisting of Jared Moberg for president, Andrew Hulsebos for vice president and Robert Dice for secretary, came in second with 414 total votes.
Team David Schmidt for president, Matt Huizenga for vice president and Thomas Peterson for secretary were a close third with 401 total votes.
Trailing them, Josh Orndorff for president along with Gretchen Braymer for vice president and Sarah Orndorff for secretary came in fourth with 179 votes; and Malia Volbeda for president with Josh Hubers for vice president and Lubie Hubers for secretary came in fifth with 154 total votes.
Two thousand, one hundred and eighty-two students voted in the senate elections this year, which, according to Shoemaker, is a record high for Calvin.
Shoemaker said that he was surprised at the large margin by which his team won, and he said that a change in the donation rule played a large role on the campaign. In the past there was a rule capping the amount of donation money that executive teams could receive at $300. During this year’s campaign, that limit was lifted entirely.
“I had an opponent, J.A.R., who already had a monster contact and was planning on trying to use as much as he could from that,” said Shoemaker. “I had zero donations as of that Monday. But by Friday, I had eight thousand to nine thousand dollars worth of donations in one week from outside sources willing to partner with us,” said Shoemaker. Among those partners were Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Qdoba, Pepsi, Red Bull, Noodles and Co., Blimpies and Subway. Team Shoemaker, Shin and Beukema gave away products from these companies as voting incentives.
In addition to the new student senate leadership, nine senators were elected: sophomore Jorie Ellens, freshman Gabriel Adhikary, junior Abbie Belford, junior Jill Van Veen, junior Jeff Timmington, junior Katrina Denny, junior James Zandstra, sophomore Ben Faulkner and sophomore Meredith Geels.
Senator-elect Timmington desires to bring a personable attitude to the student government: “I want this campus to have something for everyone. Everyday I see someone at Calvin who I've never seen before. I want each and every student to know that their opinions and voices matter, and I want them to know who their representatives are and how they can contact to them,” he said.
Shoemaker also said that student involvement is a major focus of his team: “I think there is so much potential on Calvin’s campus for students to take grasp of,” said Shoemaker. “If you make students aware of opportunities by offering incentives they might actually find something that they like and enjoy and make their Calvin experience even better.”
Shoemaker added that he plans on partnering with student organizations and administration to further his work. “We are really excited. Just the other day, I received a letter just from an alumnus saying if there was anything they could do to help, they would love to do that. So just that support from random people has been really encouraging and has made us really excited,” said Shoemaker.
Senator-elect Zandstra hopes that new student representatives will keep an open mind.
“Going in, I don't have many specific goals in mind. As a representative of the student body I don't think I should go in with a narrow range of interests,” said Zandstra. “I do, however, hope to take a look at things like library hours, internet accessibility etc., as well as issues raised by the previous senators in order to determine whether or not they meet the needs of the students.”
Shoemaker, Timmington and Zandstra agreed that outgoing president Jared Rispens and the other student government leaders did a great job over the past year, and look forward to building on that foundation.
“We are hoping to keep their momentum because we think that they have done a great job …,” said Shoemaker, “We are hoping to build on top of what they’ve done.”
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