Campus Life

Student Senate: Town Hall Meeting Recap

By Alaister McFarren

For the second time this school year, the Grace Student Senate held a Town Hall gathering to both update the student body on what changes were occurring, and to receive questions, complaints and suggestions from any students who choose to attend.  The event opened with the new Student Body President Kirsten Mead describing the goals of the Senate, which included being a place to come to for information and hopefully to be able to assist in improving Grace academics and departments.

After the general announcements, each Senator went to sit with a group of 5-10 students and discuss issues, both those the Senate had thought to ask about beforehand and suggestions from the student body.  I had the pleasure of sitting in Senator Elizabeth Mattia’s group.  The conversation in my circle ended up focusing on two primary categories: chapel and “third spaces.”

When it came to chapel, Senator Mattia began by describing what efforts the chapel team had gone to this year, and what their general thought processes were.  As for chapel band, they try to focus on doing songs repeatedly so the students know what the words are.  This is supposed to make students feel more comfortable and able to sing along, rather than blundering through a song.

Comments on chapel band noted the exceptional quality of the band’s music, but voiced some complaints regarding the monotony of singing the same songs week after week, the desire to hear more from the side vocalists, and perhaps even bringing in new vocalists more often to diversify the chapel experience.

Regarding chapel speakers, Senator Mattia explained how the chapel team sought out a mix of speakers that provided a good variety of quality messages and the occasional “controversial” speakers to provoke critical thinking among students and faculty.  Comments about the format were positive, with some suggestions about potential “discussion chapels” to discuss topics/speakers occasionally.

When it came to “third-spaces,” which Jonah Pettet described as a location that was neither a dorm nor a classroom where students could hang out on campus, Senator Mattia told of the struggles students currently voiced.  These included struggling to find areas away from their dorms to study or hang out with friends, while not being restricted by weather or hours.  Finding areas during the nice weather might not be much of an issue, but after the cold weather sets in, options become extremely limited.

In addition, after the library and other buildings close, there are essentially no options for students during the week (and library hours over the weekend are extremely limited as well).  To rectify these situations, Senator Mattia took in a wide variety of suggestions, including focusing on the quantity of the third-spaces over their quality, scattering picnic benches across campus and emphasizing privacy (as opposed to places like Jazzman’s).