What are student senate’s plans for the year?


Photo courtesy of JB Britton

Student senate seeks to improve campus life.

The semester is well under way, and so is the work of Calvin’s student senate. This year’s 19 projects range from extending building hours to organizing a campus flea market. 

There are three teams assigned to various projects and four vice president-led intra senate groups (ISGs) that ensure student senate’s ability to run well. Vice presidents and the student body president also lead their own mandates.

Project teams typically consist of one leader and four to six senators working together to achieve long-term projects. Heading this year’s three teams are senators Rebekah Baas, Peter Haagsma and Hanokh Hiwale. The ISGs are led by Kay Casturo, vice president of administration; Elizabeth Cyr, vice president of communications; Bryce Allen, vice president of operations; and Benedict (Jojo) Arthur, vice president of representation. These groups are concerned with the internal functions of student senate and focus respectively on event planning, student input, responsibility for long term projects and governance, which handles its committee appointees and training as well as involving students studying under the CPI program in Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility.

Team Baas

Baas’ team consists of student senators Sean Salamun, Chloe Bell, Andrew Burtt, Ifeanyichukwu Onyeanakwe, Omari Nyarko and Celestina Rai. The projects currently assigned to this team are the creation of a new Calvin fight song and the organization of a flea market on campus.

Baas expressed that a new fight song will increase school spirit and unity at sporting events. The current fight song, she says, is outdated and relatively unknown. The song begins with the lyrics “join men of Calvin College.” Baas states that these lyrics are entirely unrepresentative and that in light of the transition to university, “It is the perfect time to introduce a change.”

A campus flea market would allow students to buy and sell their handmade goods as well as old and unused property. This would promote sustainable consumption and allow students to showcase their work. The team’s hope is that this event will be successful enough to merit continuation in years to come.

Team Baas is working through logistical issues and researching events at other schools that are similar to their proposed flea market. The also plan to communicate with Calvin’s athletics and marketing departments to approve and enact a change in fight song lyrics. In addition to these two active projects, they were also working on making electric scooters available for rent, but that project has been postponed pending city legislation regarding electric scooter rentals.

Team Haagsma

Haagsma’s team is currently assigned to the projects of building a firepit on campus, extending the hours buildings remain open, adding power outlets in the DeVos Communications Center and filling the space previously occupied by the Fish House. This team is made up of senators Anya Rop, Debora Haede, Chris Punt and TJ Williams.

The team is currently in discussion with the physical plant to design and budget a natural gas fireplace on the patio outside Peet’s coffee in hopes that it will facilitate community and be accessible to both on and off-campus students, as well as faculty.

Extending the open hours of buildings on campus will grant students greater access to the resources they need to complete assignments, and adding extension cords and power strips in the DeVos lobby will make studying in that area more convenient. Buildings targeted by the extended hours project include the Science Building, Spoelhof Center and CFAC. Senators have been in contact with members of the universtiy staff to determine the impacts of extended hours and are preparing to propose the idea to the president’s office in the near future.

The former location of the Fish House is now a lobby complete with table games, video games, and furniture. Student senate oversaw this transition, and team Haagsma is working to find new ways to fill this space with events.

Team Hiwale

Hiwale’s team is made up of Samiur Rahman, Andy Stanford, AJ Thede and Einstein Essibu. These senators are tasked with placing a senator in each dorm at least once a week to better understand student opinions and connect with the on-campus student body, extending how late Johnny’s stays open to increase late-night access to food, and placing a sticker on the student senate office windows to show which senators are present as a means of encouraging students to come in and voice their concerns and opinions.


Student senate vice presidents and the student body president each determine an issue or need in the campus community that they devote their term to addressing. This year’s mandates are as follows: Sustainability: Arthur, Interfaith Relations: Cyr, Civil Discourse: Allen, Freshmen Council: Casturo, and Faculty Requirements: Emerson Silvernail, student body president. These mandates produce their own range of projects to work on. For instance, Casturo’s work in the freshmen council mandate is currently focused on updating the lighting and furniture in dorm basements and Arthur’s sustainability mandate has manifested in the advocation for more bike racks on campus. Chimes recently published a letter by Silvernail explaining the mandates in greater detail.


In addition to project teams and mandates, ISGs can also result in projects. Long-term projects are overseen by the vice president of operations’ responsibility ISG. Allen is currently tasked with Student Senate’s initiative to stock three campus bathrooms with tampons and pads as well as a program allowing students to take their professors to lunch free of charge. Arthur’s governance ISG has led to programs that bring together CPI and Knollcrest campus students through volunteer hours and artwork displays.

Multiple student senators emphasized their desire for increased student input on their projects as well as proposals for new projects. Students with concerns or input for any of the projects listed or new proposals are encouraged to stop by the student senate office in Commons Annex or email Kay Casturo.