By NICK BITONTI, Staff Writer
Students got a chance to voice ask questions and voice their concerns to student government members last Tuesday at Kochoff Hall.
The sparsely attended Student Government Town Hall Meeting and Open House complete with refreshments lasted from 11am-1pm. In addition to a serving as a platform student concerns, the event served as an introduction to students who were unsure of the functions of student government.
“We really want to hear what’s on student’s minds,” said student senator Anthony M. Wagner. “Unfortunately, I don’t think a lot of students fully understand the function of student government. We do lots of stuff. it’s just behind the scenes. We want students to know they have voices.”
Concerns ranging from the lack of sufficient campus parking to the lack of halal menu choices offered by campus food service provider, Sodexo were heard as student senators made their way through tables of snacking co-eds.
A student who chose to be identified only as Mohammad, asked student government members about the imminent closing of the Henry Ford Estate lot behind the field house.
“The university gave back the Estates their land and as a result, student parking will cease there shortly,” said Wagner. “A lot of students don’t know that you can park in CASL faculty spaces after 6pm. That’s what we’re here for.”
“We wanted more of an informal setting for students to come and meet their representatives. We wanted to create a platform to gauge student issues reminiscent of what State Legislators do with coffee hours,” said Student Government President, Wedad Ibrahim. “That’s basically our mission: to work on student issues, but we can only do that when we know what the issues are.”
Ibrahim cites the lack of knowledge regarding the function of student government as its biggest criticism. She wants students to know they do a lot more than “hand out buttons.”
Ibrahim lists the new campus Safe Walks and student government’s involvement in the search for a new Chief Lieutenant for Public Safety as examples of student government at work.
“Five years ago that never would have happened. They really didn’t hold a high regard for student government at all,” said Ibrahim. “But now that our voice is being heard, we’re being taken seriously. The fact that administration asks us to sit on committees is a huge deal.”
Just like in State and Federal politics, change amidst bureaucracy is a slow multi-tiered process. To start a conversation about instituting a fall break, Ibrahim and Senators had to first contact UM-D Vice Chancellor Henderson. Then the conversation heads to the registrars, the associate provost, the faculty senate, the provost and the regents.
“Fall break is a door. If I push it will open. But I need to push really hard,” said Ibrahim. “Our student body is filled with some of the best and brightest that really do want to change things for the better.”