In order to effectively address the needs of students on campus, Student Senate meets with the Board of Trustees in order to discuss student concerns and other matters on campus. On Sept. 27, Student Senate Co-Presidents Matt Timmons and Dani Cabrera, presented a number of issues to the Board including divestment, financial transparency, the Gustavus Tobacco-free initiative, sanitation in dorms, and the accessibility of wi-fi on campus.
Cabrera and Timmons put together a presentation based on what senate declared to be imperative issues on campus. According to Cabrera, because of the way the meeting is set up, there is no opportunity for dialogue or discussion between Senate and Board.
“A couple of the Board members approached us after the meeting, specifically Scott Anderson and Linda Keefe, who wanted to work on a collaboration between Senate and the Board, so that there’d be another more informal setting so that we could brainstorm,” Cabrera said.
Cabreba spoke in regards to the general reaction of their presentation.
“They [the Board] were very receptive. They always enjoy meeting with students, and they thought that our presentation was great,” Cabreba said.
Friday morning, students met with Board members for Breakfast with the Board. According to VanHecke, this idea came about around two years ago in order for Board members to have a chance to interact with students and understand the entire college student experience. Previously, Board members met with a few select students and newly tenured faculty, but because of the limited number of students they weren’t able to get a wide grasp on student life, which is when the open breakfast idea started.
“Around three or four Board meetings ago, we piloted the idea of Breakfast with the Board. We asked Gustie Greeters who volunteered and went to the breakfast. The Board members thought it was fantastic, and they said that they really wanted to make a commitment to continuing to do it again. We heard from students that it sounded like a good program, but why [were Greeters the only ones] who got to do that? That’s when I fell on the idea of just sending an e-mail out and going on a first-come, first-serve basis, and that’s how we’ve been doing it ever since,” VanHecke said.
Because of the first-come, first-serve basis, many students jump at the chance to participate in the breakfast. Many do so to advocate and represent their campus organizations. This was the case for Senior Reed McCalib, who went to represent Divest Gustavus.
“I think the breakfast was a great opportunity for the student body to connect with the Board of Trustees and foster relationships. The Board member we met with was willing to listen to our concerns and aspirations—ultimate divestment from the fossil fuel industry, so that Gustavus stops financially supporting and profiting from non-sustainable energy sources. However, he reacted as if he had heard our arguments before and he was quick to offer a variety of reasons why divestment is an unrealistic goal in the near future. He was very receptive, cordial, and his counterarguments to our agenda were very logical,” McCalib said.
According to VanHecke, the Board of Trustees love meeting and talking with students about their college experiences. and what issues matter to Gusties.