SENATE: They’ll be there for you

On campus, students have the opportunity to be a part of over 100 different student organizations which encourage community and leadership. One of these organizations includes Student Senate, which allows students to represent their peers while helping better the Gustavus community.

Within Student Senate, students can occupy positions as residence hall representatives, class representatives, cabinet members, and co-presidents. Elections occur at the end of each school year to identify the new co-presidents.

Each year, pairs of qualified, passionate individuals run for the position of Student Senate co-president. This spring, there are two candidate pairs running for office: Hubert Ngabirano and Solveig Svendsen, and Henry Adebisi and Oakley Clark.

After being involved in many areas around Gustavus, Ngabirano and Svendsen bring a familiar and friendly face to the student body.

“We’re aware of the different needs of the student body as a whole and we are committed to serving our fellow Gusties with their needs in mind. We also are not unfamiliar faces in this community. Many know who we are and our approachability will be a powerful asset when it comes to partnering with the student body to make things happen,” Ngabirano said.

As the current Administrative Director, Ngabirano is serving his second year on Student Senate. He is also involved in Proclaim, Prepare Ministries, the Gustavus Mentoring Program, Alpha Chi Delta, and serves as a Collegiate Fellow.

“We’re aware of the different needs of the student body as a whole and we are committed to serving our fellow Gusties with their needs in mind.” –  Hubert Ngabirano ‘18

Svendsen first joined Student Senate as the Ombudsperson, a position she held her freshman and sophomore year. On campus, she can be seen participating in Women’s Rugby and the Apprentice Dance Company.

With experience across campus, it is fitting that Ngabirano and Svendsen’s platform is centered around student life, academic opportunities and community involvement.

“The overarching theme or the heart of the platform is building relationships,” Ngabirano said.

More than that, “We have focused on ideas which we think will help to build our relationships and community here on campus.  We feel as though sometimes as students we get stuck in our comfort zone and it becomes difficult to reach out to others when so busy with our individual daily lives.  We would like to work on this disconnection by facilitating opportunities to form new deeper, relationships with other people on campus who you may never have reached out to otherwise,” Svendsen said.

As a part of relationship building, Ngabirano and Svendsen want to incite honest community discussions.

“The institution is thriving as a whole but there is still a lack of bold, vulnerable and honest talks between members of the community. We want to build relationships because we believe that when we are intentional relationally, we will be transparent and therefore will perform better,” Ngabirano said.

Ngabirano and Svendsen are eager to potentially serve as the community’s new Student Senate co-presidents.

“We can’t claim that we are the best. We can’t claim that we will be perfect. But we can assure you that we care about you and we are ready to serve you by listening to you and involving you in building our community. We can promise you that we will show up no matter what. We are in this together. Yes you can indeed count on us to put your interests and wellbeing first,” Ngabirano said.

Also running are current Juniors Henry Adebisi and Oakley Clark.

On campus, Adebisi is a 2-year Collegiate Fellow, member of the Sexual Misconduct Task Force, program assistant in the Diversity Center, and Omega Kappa President. Although Adebisi has not been a part of Senate in the past, he brings extensive experience in other leadership capacities.

Equally involved, Clark is a member of the Gustavus Interfaith Lodge, Gustavus College Libertarians, the Mayday! Committee, Philosopher’s Guild, and was formerly a member of the voter education committee. Clark has been involved in Student Senate for one year as the Uhler Hall representative.

At a school of less than 3,000 students, community is an important aspect of the campus, also serving as one of core pillars of the Gustavus values.

“I truly believe in the act of giving back to the community and serving students. I want to lead a Gustavus Student Senate that is willing to listen and be transparent with students, while also reaching out to faculty, administration, and different departments on campus. I would also like to see a Student Senate that is supportive of all it students, regardless of the different identities they bring to campus,” Adebisi said.

With the community prominent in mind, Adebisi and Clark’s platform includes unity, action, and inclusion.

“We are advocating for a Student senate that will be very active and bring change that the campus wants to see. We would like to inspire a Student Senate that will unify the Gustavus community, by including faculty, administration, and other student groups. Lastly, it’s not enough to simply attempt to unify campus, we fully intend to strive for inclusion of ALL students. Student Senate should be a group that supports and attempts to include all students in the Gustavus community,” Adebisi said.

Adebisi and Clark will be running with a mindset of necessary change and unity.

“We would not be doing this if we were not focused on a Senate that is effective at changing college policies, advocating for our community to come together—regardless of ideological or physical divisions—and fighting for underrepresented groups on campus,” Clark said.

“We are advocating for a Student Senate that will be very active, and bring change that the campus wants to see.” – Henry Adebisi ‘16

Within their platform, Adebisi and Clark also address particular points.

“We also have more specific planks such as pushing for a change in the WebAdvisor system, advocating for international students’ housing locations during breaks, and changing the weight room headphones policy,” Clark said.

With elections nearing, Adebisi and Clark are excited at the prospect of serving the Gustavus community as its new co-presidents.

“To see a Student Senate that will, act, support, listen, and be transparent with students, you should look no further. Gustavus should be a community where everyone should be included in the creation of meaningful change,” Adebisi said.

Elections will take place on Feb. 27. With two pairs of extremely experienced, excited, and educated candidates, whatever the results of the election may be, the campus will be in good hands.