Steven Cole, a senior political science major, is half way through his first semester as Student Government president. He was elected into office on a five-pronged platform. Here’s an update on where stands on those issues.
Cole and Vice President Anjali Martin worked with administration to develop a preliminary model for a tuition rebate incentive program to reward academic success.
The reward will be bigger for students in lower grade levels and will be targeted at students in lower scholarship award brackets.
“We can alleviate the financial burden that [students] suffer because college affordability is a huge concern,” Cole said. “We really want to make it so those students doing well with the lower scholarships can stay in school.”
Cole is working to reduce minor requirements from 124 to 120, making it possible to graduate in four, 15-credit-semesters.
He said Interim President, Provost and Executive Vice President Kim Schatzel is going to present the elimination of minor requirements, which can be a problem for transfer students, before the Board of Regents in December.
“I don’t want their graduation and their bachelors to be delayed by having to take more classes for that requirement,” Cole said. “I know most students are going to opt to have a minor by choice, but we make it so they don’t have to if it’s not fitting in their schedule.”
Mental and physical student wellness was the second prong of Cole’s platform.
He said Student Government has worked to help reduce the stigma and lack of knowledge around mental health by participating in event like Send Silence Packing, a display that raised suicide awareness.
Cole said he fears Student Government hasn’t done enough in the past to promote resources like EMU’s Counseling and Psychological Services.
“We want to make sure students know what resources are available to them as well having concerted marketing efforts to break that stigma down that would prevent them from walking in the door,” Cole said.
To promote physical wellness, Student Government added a line item to the budget to help finance extending the REC/IM hours from 9:45 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. from Monday through Thursday.
Free and subsidized work out classes are also in the process. Cole said his long term goal in regards to student physical wellness is turning the REC/IM into a physically attractive place.
“Having an attractive facility is of the upmost importance is we’re going to bring prospective students here, if we’re going to ask out students to be active on campus,” Cole said. “We need to have a quality, accessible recreation facility.”
Student Government is working on bettering the communications between students and the IT Department.
A WiFi Web Reporting Form has been developed to report WiFi issues form any device. Cellular data can be used to send in the form on a phone and it can be sent in on a computer once WiFi access has been gained again.
In the past, to report a problem to IT, students had to call in to the department and describe the problem.
“One, it gives more information to IT because people in the past wouldn’t call them,” he said. “Two, that allows IT to better respond to student concerns. Once they get more data, they know where the problems are and they know how to fix it.”
Cole said a solution to printing issues such as low toner and ink are still being worked on. He said a possible solution is an online form.
The fifth prong of the Cole/Martin platform was focused on expanding and improving off-campus safety.
“Understanding that EMU University does a great job of on-campus safety, but students who live off campus really need to feel safe as well.”
He said they want to enhance the efforts EMU has made to make students feel safe off-campus with the Companion Safety App which can be downloaded for free.
The app allows students to track their friends as they walk home to make sure the trip is safe.
Student Government has also promoted the Sexual Assault Prevention program which will take place in February.
Long term, Cole said he is looking require campus-wide sexual assault prevention and active bystander training.
In terms of transportation, Cole said he hopes to increase the subsidy given to EMU students for the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority monthly bus passes.
Students can currently buy a pass for $40 per month, as apposed to $57. If Student Government funds part of the subsidy, the cost will come down to $30 per month.
“We’re hoping students who don’t have access to a car can have a quality, affordable method of transportation,” Cole said.
He said they are also looking at how to improve parking and communicating with students about where open spots are.
Post-graduation, Cole said he hopes to see the university take seriously providing quality and affordable education.
“We’re really committed to understanding that the university we run is different from a lot of others,” he said.
He said he also wants to make sure all students know the resources available to them and feel safe on campus, whether they are sexual assault victims or identify as LGBTQ.