Under new leadership, Student Congress is out to change its’ image and its’ organization to improve the student body’s opinion of the organization.
“In the past, we had some members on Student Congress who did not necessarily represent our organization or the college in a positive manner that we hoped those people would do,” said junior Rachel Lukowicz, Student Congress president. “Also, I think some people think Student Congress is this arbitrary thing. They do not understand what we do, what happens or why we are important.”
To change Student Congress’ image, Lukowicz has implemented committee projects rather than individual ones and is working to rebrand Student Congress, she said.
In the past, every senator worked on their own individual project. While this worked for smaller projects, many larger ones were unsuccessful. This year, senators are working on larger projects, such as the meal plan changes, together in committees, sophomore Callie Jane Vickers said.
Senior Nolan Field ran for Student Congress last year. He said his reason for running was because many ideas he suggested to senators were never completed.
“I saw different things happen on campus...but I also saw a lot of inaction,” Field said. “It was just kind of like they (Student Congress) were there, and it was just a title.”
There are five committees and the executive team. All are working on a project to benefit the student body this year. The best known of these project is changing the meal plan, Lukowicz said.
Student Congress is also working having a more positive image and being more visible to the student body this year, said junior Emily Vokal, Student Congress vice president.
To start promoting their new image, Lukowicz had a new logo designed for Student Congress, she said.
“The purpose of the Student Congress logo is to slap it literally on everything,” Lukowicz said.
“This will help Student Congress to be seen in a more positive light.”
But Lukowicz has other motives for making Student Congress more visible to students.
“Everyone should know what Student Congress is doing at all times,” Lukowicz said. “There is no secrecy. Students should know what is always going on in their student government.”
When Lukowicz was running for president, she said that many students did not know any senators. This makes expressing concerns to Student Congress difficult, she said, and that’s a problem.
“One of the things that is most important about Student Congress is to make sure that students know Student Congress exists and how to contact them,” said Carrie Petr, Student Congress adviser.
Though many students thought Student Congress was unimportant, this is not true, Vokal said.
In the past, Student Congress served the student body in other, less noticeable ways, Vokal said.
“Student Congress, for the last two years I have been on it, has been changing to the students’ needs,” Vokal said. “Before my freshman year we were kind of a group solely for allocations, Stop Day and Student Appreciation Dinner. Those were the only things we really did along with our personal projects. There was more focus on projects and allocations than student concerns in general.”
Despite how students felt last year, opinions of the Congress are changing, said senior Jordyn Atwater, Student Congress secretary.
“I have noticed a significant difference (in Student Congress this year),” sophomore Emily Folkerts said. “It seems like Student Congress this year wants to be a lot more involved.”
Atwater attributes the change of student opinions to Lukowicz’s work on the public relations side of Student Congress and her enthusiasm for the organization, she said.
“Rachel is a very proactive leader,” Atwater said. “She has very fantastic ideas. She is very innovative and very driven. She has a passion for Student Congress, and she wants to make it one of those entities on campus that students can come to and we can get things done for students.”
Student Congress is important because it can benefit the student body in ways other groups cannot, Lukowicz said.
“It is an organization on campus that really can make a huge impact,” Lukowicz said. “We have the potential to have a say in a lot of different things. If there was no student representation, who would know what students think at the Board of Trustees meetings? It is important to have individuals that try to represent the whole student body and who want to make a change.”