Semester recap: Student Government’s executive branch

Student Government's executive branch has been working to create new initiatives, including the Baylor Neighborhood Association, the Student Care and Wellness Fund and a Mental Health Week in preparation for finals. Audrey La | Photographer

By Ana Ruiz Brictson | Staff Writer

As the semester reaches an end, Student Government’s executive branch looks back into its initial proposals and accomplishments from the fall and plans its projects for the spring.

Student Government is an organization on campus that works to represent the student body and improve the quality of student life. Modeled after the United States government, Student Government splits into executive, legislative and judicial branches.

According to Zach Tufenkjian — Hoffman Estates, Ill., senior and student body external vice president — in accordance with its mission, Student Government explores issues that may be occurring on campus and builds partnerships with faculty, staff and others within the Waco community.

Tufenkjian said that within his office, he has set out to expand the role of the external vice president. He said he has been working toward having more communication with Waco partners, student organizations and other universities.

“Overall, as a student government, we’ve been working for a very transparent and unified student government that is working in unity and in unison with each individual branch, because although they may be separate branches, as an organization, we are truly one,” Tufenkjian said.

The executive branch has been working toward several goals. According to Joely English — Spring Branch freshman and executive branch press secretary — the student body president’s cabinet has organized Mental Health Week from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3.

“Students will be preparing for finals once we return, and it’s important to us to promote faithfulness to our bodies and minds during this period,” English said via email. “Our main focus is to promote and endorse the telehealth services Baylor offers.”

Additionally, Student Government’s executive branch has been working toward a Student Care and Wellness Fund (SCWF). English said this is a newly launched, student-run philanthropy fund aiming to assist students who may be facing unpredicted hardships or who simply need financial assistance.

“We understand students may prefer to keep their affairs private; therefore, the application process is completely anonymous,” English said.

The executive branch has also worked to purchase a number of graduation caps and gowns in various sizes for students to rent. Students who are graduating in December and are interested are encouraged to contact student body president Gracie Kelliher.

English said the executive branch has created the position of new accessibility director. She said they have been meeting with students, staff and faculty who have OALA accommodations to identify which areas of student experience they will prioritize first.

“From this, we’re gaining a better perspective and documenting the research to form projects/efforts to best suit students,” English said.

Tufenkjian said that particularly this semester, the executive branch has begun two main initiatives to help the community.

The first initiative is reviving the Baylor Neighborhood Association — an organization that works to represent and improve the quality of life of the neighborhood surrounding the university. The second initiative is “Renew our Roads,” through which they report construction issues, dangerous intersections, potholes and other transit-related issues.

“We want to ensure that they have as safe of an environment as possible,” Tufenkjian said.

Another initiative Tufenkjian said the executive branch is working on is expanding the university’s approved catering list for student organizations, Baylor departments and other groups to choose from. He said this project is still in its early stages.

“I just encourage students who become engaged with Student Government to go to our meetings, to send us ideas and feedback and just express their concerns,” Tufenkjian said. “My office, in particular, is always open to student organizations or the Waco community — but overall any student who wants to express their opinions or collaborate with us and actually help build a better Baylor.”