This year’s State of the Senate address reviewed the accomplishments of each Senate committee from the 2022-2023 academic year. It also recognized the new executive board and set the course for the coming year.
The meeting took place on April 25 in Lewis Lab and was open to all members of the Lehigh community. Lehigh administration members, including President Joseph Heble and Ricardo Hall, vice president of student affairs, were in attendance.
Funding requests from student organizations were reviewed and approved or rejected by the Allocations Committee.
Allocations chair Kaithlyn Hendricks, ‘24, presented these requests along with funds granted by the Student Enrichment Fund.
Put into action about eight weeks ago, the Student Enrichment Fund is a scholarship that any student can apply to for assistance with the cost of professional and academic aspirations.
“With 22 approvals, we have been able to alleviate the cost of graduate school entrance exams, such as the optometry admissions test (and) flights to Ireland for the Lehigh Ireland program, trips to Kazakhstan for (the Global Social Impact Fellowships), multiple conferences and so much more,” Hendricks said. “All (of this is) associated with professional and academic improvement and growth.”
Out in Bethlehem
Bethlehem Outreach chair Duncan Shober-Fernback, ‘23, presented on the progress of the Bethlehem Outreach Committee, which works to increase engagement between the student body and Bethlehem community.
He said the committee has organized conversations with community leaders, donations to the Move Out Collection Drive to avoid litter and abandoned appliances, and an ice cream social for local middle school students.
He also presented the committee’s recent collaboration with University Productions to encourage students to explore eight South Side small businesses and promoted their upcoming cleanup event on the Greenway.
Club Affairs chair Emily Wegrzyn, ‘24, said they fully approved 21 new clubs in the spring 2023 semester, bringing many clubs back to campus after inactivity due to the pandemic.
“In early February, we dissolved just under 100 clubs,” Wegrzyn said. “This allows for us to better allocate our resources to the over 200 clubs that are recognized by the Student Senate.”
Wegryzn said the committee also organized a networking event for clubs to increase collaboration.
Promoting diversity and inclusion
Oluwafunmbi Ojo, ‘24, chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, recognized members for their work to encourage inclusivity in the classroom, in Fairchild-Martindale Library’s new CIRCLE, and in providing halal and kosher dining options on campus.
“Moving forward, we plan to explore new avenues to promote inclusive classroom practices, such as implementing faculty development programs and creating student-led initiatives to promote dialogue and understanding,” Ojo said.
Housing and dining priorities
Isabella Jacavone, ‘23, the Facilities and Services Committee chair, applauded the efforts of committee members for their work to reestablish and refresh the Lehigh Boards page, which allows students to sell personal items, advertise housing opportunities and provide general services.
Jacavone said the committee worked to increase access to affordable and diverse dining options, as well as carry out surveys to better understand student dining and dorming needs.
“We have also met with Business Services to discuss potential tenant options for the vacancy in Farrington Square,” Jacavone said. “We look forward to working together to advocate for spaces in our school that are beneficial to both the student body and the university.”
Sterling Salmini, ‘24, chair of the Health, Safety and Wellness Committee, said they worked to strengthen existing services for students, such as at the Counseling Center and with the Week of Wellness, which was designed to provide support for students during midterms weeks.
Committee members had the opportunity to organize their own individual events throughout the year, which included providing students with Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins in return for positive notes of encouragement in the FML lobby and a fitness event that provided students with guidance on exercise and its benefits.
“The Senate is a temporary experience, as many things are,” Salmini said. “Overall with college, we’re only here for four years. When you seek change — seek tangible, incremental change — the best way to do right today is to give people a place to be, a smile to share or a donut.”
The student experience
Hamsa Javagal, ‘25, chair of the Student Outreach Committee, spoke about the Diner en Blanc event and its theme of celebrating the Lehigh community.
“We transformed the event to feature diverse guest performances, where attendees were able to engage with the many different cultures that make up our campus community,” Javagal said.
Through a Coffee and Conversations event, the committee allowed students to interact with those who are familiar with the internship process and ask questions.
Sean Davis, ‘25, vice president of Communications, detailed the Public Relations Committee’s efforts to advertise the Senate’s events.
Davis said he encourages students to involve themselves with the Senate by running and voting in their elections.
Michael Stevanovich, ‘23, vice president of Leadership, said he implores members of administration in attendance to take advantage of the readily available assistance from senators.
“There are 60 willing and able senators in all of these committees who would love to help you make this campus community a better and greater university for all of us,” Stevanovich said.