Student Association President Caitlin Coulter recently created a cabinet of five advocacy chairs for this academic year.
Last year, former SA President Lauren Kreiss opted not to create a President’s Cabinet, as it is up to each president to decide whether or not one is needed. This year, the positions were assigned through an application and interview process open to any SA representative. Coulter said 10 representatives applied this year.
The advocacy chairs will cover Title IX, academics, environment and sustainability, funding and campus safety issues.
“There’s been a lot of ideas always floating around SA that are talked about, but a lot of the time, they aren’t assigned to anybody,” Coulter said. “My main goal was to assign those goals to people to get them done.”
Each advocate has been assigned a topic that Coulter believes is relevant to the student body.
“With the recent assault on campus, I heard a lot of campus safety concerns as well as some concerns about the police station not being open 24 hours,” she said.
Besides working on making Campus Police open all day, campus safety advocate Codey Cook said he hopes to fix the lack of parking available on campus.
“It’s just a small thing that I believe we can easily fix, and, once we do, it makes it not only easier, but safer for students,” he said.
Other goals for Cook include advocating for mental health resources and safe rooms, which he will work on with the Abigail Lawson, the Title IX advocate.
Lawson hopes to develop a relationship between SVSU and a sexual assault nurse practitioner and to “employ prevention and education-based tactics regarding sexual assault and harassment.”
She wants to bring free feminine hygiene products to campus as well. “This will be a collaborative effort between not only SA, but the administration and possibly other RSOs,” she said. “… This particular idea has been implemented among several other college campuses and truly allows each woman to feel they are valued and respected by their university.”
Both the Title IX and the campus safety advocates will work to create safe rooms on campus.
“LGBTQ affinity housing was removed this past year,” Coulter said. “So, safe rooms would be a cool option. This could be a good place for people to go if their roommates are gone and they’re home alone, or maybe they’re struggling with mental health or if something bad has happened.”
Resources for mental health, such as contact information for the counseling center, would be available in the safe rooms. Lawson said that these safety rooms would also help “anyone having dealt with, or is dealing with, sexual violence or domestic abuse.”
Denver Milam serves as the academic advocate.
“I don’t feel like (SA) ever advocates for academics,” Coulter said. “The academic advocate is looking to start building relationships with all the different colleges on campus so that, if student concerns come up, then there’s an easier pathway to handle those issues.”
Morgan Jensen is the funding advocate.
“Many organizations don’t receive any university funding,” Coulter said about the new role. “Student Association receives funding based on tuition dollars, so someone who’s taking 18 credits is paying a lot more than someone who is taking three or four credits. … We’re going to be looking into finding more of a flat rate so some people aren’t paying more than others.”
The funding advocate will also seek fundraising options for RSOs that need more help than SA can provide through allocations.
The last chair will be the environmental advocate, Waliul Matin.
“He specifically plans on getting recycling bins in every classroom,” Coulter said. “We’re also looking at getting paper bags at the P.O.D. and the Marketplace.”
Coulter noted that Matin wants to work toward sustainability goals for SVSU, largely through creating a “green endowment.”
Office hours of advocacy chairs are posted outside the SA office for those interested in discussing these topics with the new cabinet.