SU, student leaders address student body at campus State of the Union
Student Union President Jeff Nelson reiterated his administration’s central message in the first-ever Campus State of the Union address Wednesday evening, pledging to renew student activism.
Nelson stated Student Union’s upcoming goals, calling on the student body to support their sports teams, make campus events greener, reduce dining lines and push for a restructuring of dining hours.
“Our student body will only remain strong if we continue to stay unified and we continue to actively seek ways to improve our experience,” Nelson said during his speech in Mudd House on the South 40.
Campus leaders representing SU, Congress of the South 40, North Side Association, Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council also reported on their plans for the coming year. All the groups emphasized their efforts for increasing collaboration.
“This year we look forward to new partnerships between student groups and student leaders to make Wash. U. a more vibrant and connected community,” Sackett said.
Senior Kevin Smith, president of the Interfraternity Council, announced that the fraternities on campus remain strong and trumpeted their success in community service events and in raising thousands of dollars for charity organizations.
The Women’s Panhellenic Association (WPA) delivered a similar message and said the state of the organization is strong, though noting that there was room for improvement. WPA President Amanda Coppock pointed out that one goal this year is to be more organized in record keeping.
“[Sororities] provide some of the most unique leadership roles women can find on our campus,” said Coppock, a senior.
Nelson emphasized greater collaboration with Greek life organizations.
“I’ve always felt it’s a priority that we need to work with Greek life, because it’s a significant portion of campus,” Nelson said. “By and large, they’re unified. If we can get Greek life to support certain initiatives, we can really make things happen.”
Chrystal Okonta, director of the North Side Association, emphasized the organization’s goal to “form a uniquely North Side experience that’s relevant for our students and the composition of our group.”
Junior Hannah Bowling, speaker of the Congress of the South 40, said the group is maintaining its strong programming and will be encouraging students to venture more into St. Louis this year. Bowling also acknowledged that the construction on the South 40 may pose some difficulty for programming.
The speech was the brainchild of Nelson and senior Chase Sackett, speaker of the Senate. The two conceived the idea during the summer with the intention to display a sense of unity and provide students another opportunity to learn about what is happening on campus.
The address was met with positive reactions among the 120 people or so in attendance.
“It was wonderful to see so many student leaders together talking about their plans for the year and their focus on collaboration,” said Mary Zabriskie, assistant vice chancellor for campus life. “It was really impressive.”
SU senators also expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the first State of the Union.
“I think it’s really good. I was surprised we’d never done this before in the past,” said sophomore Kirsten Miller, an SU senator. “We do a lot of things, but I don’t think the students necessarily see that.”
Junior Eliot Walker, co-chair fo the Budget Committee, said the address was a good way for students to learn about the progress of initiatives forwarded by different student groups.
“I think that students get a chance to hear what the candidates are saying during elections, but they don’t get a chance to hear how those initiatives have changed and are redefined,” Walker said. “It gives freshmen an idea [of the initiatives], because they don’t really hear [about them].”