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Senate approves $1,000 to hall councils

EunHo Peter Kim and whiteboard
EunHo Peter Kim uses a whiteboard in a Löhe hall study room. These whiteboards were funded by Senate last year as part of the $1,000 improvements for each hall council. — Erin Ridgeway/TRUMPET

Student Senate has approved $1,000 for each residence hall council to make improvements to their living areas, Student Senate treasurer David Nelson said.

Nelson said the yearly approval of $1,000 for residence hall councils started several years ago and allows students to choose small improvements for their dorms that can be implemented quickly. He said a problem that is brought up in November could be fixed as soon as January.

Hollis Hanson-Pollock, student body president, said students often want to fix or change things in their residence halls that are very expensive, but those changes take longer to be realized and students might not see them in their four years here. The changes that cost $1,000 dollars still have an impact on students’ living conditions, she said.

“Where you live is a huge part of your college life. These are changes you can actually see, very quickly,” she said.

Nelson said past $1,000 improvements have included TVs for lounges, whiteboards for study rooms, DVDs to be checked out, art, pool cues and kitchen equipment.

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Since each hall council receives $1,000, this money is split between some halls. Grossman, Löhe and The Residence have one hall council, Knights Village and the Manors share a council, Clinton and Founders are grouped and the Complex has its own council.

Hanson-Pollock said students should tell their senators directly what improvements they’d like to see or attend hall council meetings.

She said even if some issues are too expensive, it helps Senate know what students are wanting.

“It makes us aware of the problem and we have the ability to pass it on to the college. The best thing we can do is continue to bring it up,” Hanson-Pollock said.

Kayla Kregel, who lives in Founders Hall, said she barely spends time in her lounge because it’s outdated, but adding gaming equipment like a Ping-Pong, air-hockey or foosball table would improve the area.

Taylor Moore said if Senate could provide an oven for The Residence, her room “would be using it constantly.”

The money for these improvements comes from the Student Readership Program, Nelson said. This program, which students contribute $10 toward every year, was originally created to provide students with newspapers. There has been a surplus in the program for the last few years, but the college has kept the fee to students the same to allow for fluctuations in readership. In the last few years, Senate was given more leeway as to where they could funnel this surplus, he said.

Nelson said the Student Readership Program has also contributed to Large Events, Culture Week, Gala Week, campus sustainability efforts and the new water bottle fillers. He said Senate wants to use the extra money to benefit students.

Kregel thinks there are bigger issues Senate needs to address in the residence halls.

“In Founders our bathrooms are in great need of improvements,” she said. “The shower heads need to be raised for people above five feet six inches.”

Nelson said hearing students talk about possible improvements to their residence halls gives Senate information about the halls they never would have had otherwise. It also gives Senate the chance to close the gap between college staff and students.

“There seems to be a vacuum between students and administration,” Nelson said. “A lot of times they’re shocked when we tell them about student issues.”

Hanson-Pollock said Senate is trying to make communication with students even easier by posting on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. She said they have seen more interest with increased ‘likes’ and comments on Facebook and more followers on Twitter.

“It’s something we continue to push. We’re doing a lot more with it this year,” Hanson-Pollock said. “Students can live tweet us questions during our meetings and watch them online.”

Nelson and Hanson-Pollock stressed that residence hall councils want input from students about possible improvements.

“If they’re interested in being part of the discussion, they should ask their senators when residence hall council meetings are or communicate with their RHD,” Hanson-Pollock said.

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