Student government to lead ‘new normal’

The Student Government goals for this semester include increased interaction with the student body and a smooth transition from an online learning environment to one in person. | Photo courtesy of Gracie Kelliher

By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer

Student government plans to set a foundation based on students’ needs for a ‘new normal’ at Baylor as they evaluate what is worth carrying forward from online learning and virtual events.

Sierra Vista, Ariz., senior Gracie Kelliher, student body president, said many of the hybrid and virtual learning options were beneficial to all students—in particular to disabled, immunocompromised and international students. Student government plans to find ways to continue these options, Kelliher said.

Kelliher also said the pandemic is not over, and students should utilize all the tools Baylor has offered to stay safe and informed, such as getting vaccinated. She said this will only make the student experience better.

“In a very diplomatic sense, [we will] encourage students to care about each other,” Kelliher said. “Not politicizing it and not making it a big issue on one hand or the other, but just that being part of the Christian community does mean that you’re looking out for people more than yourself. This isn’t all about you. It’s about each other, and that is really important when it comes to keeping each other safe and healthy.”

Flower Mound senior Katy Crawford, internal vice president, said via email that the student body officers are working hard to create unity within the organization itself.

Crawford also said the Student Senate is implementing a new training process for non-incumbent members.

“This will be more encompassing of duties, the bill-writing process, [Diversity and Inclusion Committee] and will incorporate a mentorship program,” Crawford said.

Kelliher said there will be an official adviser, Tanner Vickers, to oversee Student Government this year to make sure members are held accountable.

“This isn’t an organization you can just join and consume from,” Kelliher said. “The purpose of Student Government is you join to give back to Baylor, and if the organization loses that essence, I think that the whole integrity of the organization has changed. Even just instilling the fact that you came to this to be part of making Baylor better from a student advocacy side. So, if your attitude isn’t to serve other students, while also gaining experience and learning from the process, there isn’t a spot for you.”

Crawford said, as she promised in her campaign, there will be a page on the Student Government website soon for any student to be able to submit a bill and work with a senator to write and present it.

“​It’s never too late to get involved; reach out to get plugged in,” Crawford said. “Remember we are here to advocate for you. We would love to discuss the ways you feel our campus could be better.”

Hoffman Estates, Ill., junior Zach Tufenkjian, external vice president, said the student body officers will have office hours posted soon so that students can come by and voice their concerns or ask questions.

“I would encourage students of all classifications really to voice out their concerns or their compliments to Student Government, and just know that my office, in particular, will be very open—welcoming to all students who want to voice those concerns,” Tufenkjian said. “If somebody wants to come in here and into my office and say a hundred bad things about Student Government or Baylor as a whole, I might not agree with all of them, but I am more than happy to listen to their concerns and try to do the best I can to maybe potentially solve them from my office, or at least get them to the right place.”