Seizing the semester with student government

Members of the Student Senate sign the student government logo with their goals for the upcoming year. Katy Mae Turner | Photographer

By Lily Nussbaum | Staff Writer

Due to its location in the basement of the Bill Daniel Student Center, it is easy to miss the work of student government throughout the semester. However, as Denver sophomore, senator and public relations committee chair Lily Davis said, student government has a hand in many beloved campus traditions and behind-the-scenes initiatives.

Executive Branch

Composed of the president, external vice president and class officers, the executive branch worked hard this semester to create initiatives that best serve the student body, according to Austin senior and student body president Hunter Walker.

“My mission as student body president was to serve as a leader by encouraging critical thinking and innovative ideas that student government can create and further efforts that’ll promote a sense of belonging at Baylor,” Walker said.

Aligning with his mission, Walker said he created the Student Health and Wellness Advisory Board to assist the Baylor Health Center, Department of Wellness and Counseling Center. The committee provides updates regarding on-campus health and feedback on wellness resources.

Additionally, The Woodlands junior and external vice president Nick Madincea tackled and completed a new shuttle service to bring students from Waco to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and back to Waco this winter break.

Finally, the executive branch is currently securing a 24-hour study space for students during this year’s finals. Walker said that at the moment, Moody-Memorial Library will serve as the space to ensure students have a study resource available during the stressful week.

Legislative Branch

The Student Senate, which serves as the legislative branch of student government, is composed of 52 senators and is overseen by the internal vice president. Throughout the semester, senators introduced and voted on various bills, ranging from allocations to enactments.

“Within Senate, I’ve seen an incredible increase in critical thinking and civil discourse that has led to just a high quality of legislation passed,” Walker said.

While the Senate passed bills to fund events that it has funded before — such as Pi Beta Phi’s Howdy and All-University Thanksgiving — Davis said that a special emphasis was placed on supporting new organizations.

“The initiative to kind of diversify our funding is to really just highlight the diversity on campus, but also just to make sure we’re accurately representing all of Baylor,” Davis said. “That gets to shine a light on culture and people and heritage that we don’t typically get to see with a traditional Greek organization.”

For example, student government funded and partnered with the Vietnamese Student Association to put on its annual Autumn Moon Festival in October.

In addition to passing bills to provide event funding, the Senate wrote a bill that recognized the work and service of professor Dr. Walter “Sparky” Matthews for Veterans Day.

Looking Forward

Davis said student government plans on continuing work from this semester, such as getting new outlets in the SUB and creating joint resolutions with the Faculty Senate, in addition to adding new initiatives. For example, the diversity, equity and inclusion committee within the Senate plans on introducing restructuring legislation. Additionally, Walker said he wants to look into adding an accessibility (and disability) awareness week.

“I’m excited for next semester because our work is not finished,” Walker said. “But the strides we’ve taken this semester to foster a greater sense of belonging at Baylor has blown me away.”

Lily Nussbaum is a senior film and digital media and public relations double major from Dallas, Texas. This is her second year with the Lariat and second semester as Social Media Editor. She loves the fast-paced environment of the newsroom and is excited to continue to grow the Lariat audience through socials. After graduation, she plans to work in the entertainment industry as a publicist or at an agency.