SU Senate releases Improve WashU campaign report, outlines 2019-2020 goals

| Senior News Editor

Student Union Senate outlined its goals for the upcoming term in a joint session meeting April 23.

The goals were driven by the results of the second annual Improve WashU campaign sent in an email to the student body, April 22.

The campaign’s purpose was to find out students’ top concerns and areas in which they wanted to see Washington University improve. Students were able to voice their concerns on the Underpass, a poster in the DUC and through a survey sent to the student body.

The main concern students had was about mental health, with 13.9% of students listing it as a top priority. The next highest issues were in regards to socioeconomic status, dining services and the racial minority experience on campus.

Each committee–Health and Wellness, Diversity and Inclusion, Academic Affairs and Campus and Residential Experience–designed their goals based on these issues.

Freshman Gaby Smith, one of the Health and Wellness committee chairs, maintained the importance of advocacy while presenting her committee’s new and ongoing initiatives, which included ensuring the availability of contraceptives and menstrual health products on campus, the mental health fund and ensuring the completion of faculty mental health training.

“We just really wanted to address the campus culture, make sure we’re working with professors and administrators alike and just continuing to update things that we’ve done in the past,” Smith said.

The Diversity and Inclusion committee aims to create an SU subcommittee for students of color, a cultural fair, implement faculty sensitivity training and eliminate cost-related barriers for students living off-campus, such as parking passes and the current meal plan.

Sophomore Mason Simmons of the Diversity and Inclusion committee said that working directly with both students and administration is crucial for helping students who are marginalized on campus.

“We were able to break socioeconomic status into two large bubbles: creating more resources and increasing awareness and discussion about the struggles of students from different socioeconomic background,” Simmons said. “So not necessarily just looking at lower-income student backgrounds, but what it’s like to be a lower-income student and maybe even understand a little bit more about how to help those students’ experience on campus, rather than just stereotypes of that experience.”

The Academic Affairs committee is prioritizing an initiative to match students with advisors that share a similar identity, a non-STEM Career Fair and a campaign to re-evaluate the deadlines to add/drop, pass/fail and withdraw from a course.

The Campus and Residential Experience committee chair aims to pass a resolution calling for the divestment of fossil fuels, reform the circulator system to allow for consistent wait times and work to create more outdoor study spaces.

Freshman Philip Keisler, Campus and Residential Experience committee chair, said that Improve WashU was valuable overall because of the way it fostered a dialogue between SU and students.

“I think it’s important to come into an organization with ideas of your own and how to improve it, but especially when you’re representing other people, you need to take the time to listen to them and see what they want,” Keisler said. “Each senator is only one person, and they only have one person’s perspective going through life every day, so it’s important that we’re taking the time to make sure we get everyone’s perspective, because there are things that we won’t realize ourselves and we need the student body to contribute that.”

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