College senators hope to connect students, leading Student Govt.

Poster provided by Mitchell-Kennedy campaign.
Poster provided by Mitchell-Kennedy campaign.

Brandon Mitchell, a mechanical engineering major, said he wants to put a face back on Student Government.

Having been apart of Student Government for a year now, Mitchell joined as a senator for the College of Science and Engineering. He begins his last year at St. Cloud State this coming fall, the same time he hopes to lead the organization as president.

“I want students to relate, to feel connected,” Mitchell said.

As a college senator, Mitchell meets with the dean of his college at least twice per semester. When it comes time to meet, he gathers input from professors and students and presents them to the dean to help work toward resolving issues around campus.

But, there are still many things that Mitchell wants to see through during his time with Student Government. Now, running for president, he and his vice president running mate, Jordan Kennedy, a nursing major, have spent the last few weeks collecting signatures from students and gaining support from the campus community.

“I’m super excited that these people know that I’m out here,” Mitchell said.

Aside from gaining backers, Mitchell and Kennedy have begun thinking about what they want to see happen on campus.

Mitchell said he finds it “shocking” that so many students are unaware of campus resources. Anything from the list of software St. Cloud State offers to students, like Office 2013, to the Write Place, Mitchell said the university’s resources are underutilized.

“I don’t think they realize the Write Place is there,” he continued. “And it’s a great asset.”

He explained that students who use campus resources can benefit in the long run, especially when looking for jobs after college.

To help point students in the right direction, Mitchell wants to create a one-stop-shop database, where students can quickly find a full listing of resources offered by the university, he said.

“I’d like students to know more about It’s On Us, more about CAPS, more about Public Safety, about how all these things are working together to make this a safer campus for everybody,” he said.

Kennedy echoes the same ideas, especially when it comes to It’s On Us, an initiative that aims to end sexual assault nationally. Both candidates said they want to work more with incoming freshman this coming academic year to get a jump on educating students about life at college.

One immediate step the candidates want to take is adding to the orientation process, which has already expanded as the Husky’s First Four. Kennedy said he began talking with It’s On Us coordinators about possibly having a mandatory, 50-minute workshop on sexual assault prevention.

“It’s a very serious issue,” he said, explaining it would be offered within the first month of classes. “We have a zero tolerance.”

Kennedy is involved in a number of student organizations on campus, including Active Minds, Council of African American Students and Residence Hall Association.

The two have been brainstorming other ideas, too, to help bring more resources to campus that will come at no cost to students.

“What we’d like to start is an archive of text books that are actually available to rent for free through the library,” Kennedy said.

To achieve this, Mitchell and Kennedy explained they plan to draft a grant asking the state for funding. If received, the next step would be to talk to administration and students around campus to see where textbooks would serve best, for the longest period of time, Kennedy explained.

In the case that funding doesn’t come through, Mitchell said he sees them pursuing an initiative to help professors find ways of building a curriculum that has little to no cost for students. This, too, could require asking the state for grants to pay professors for time spent developing the curriculum.

“If you’re going to be in school for eight to 10 semesters,” Mitchell said, “and you could save $200 per semester, that’s $2,000 bucks.”

“That’s a lot of money that students could be saving over a period of 20 years,” Kennedy said, adding that a textbook’s lifespan ranges from 10 to 20 years.

The candidates have talked about a number ideas to help students, including encouraging culture event attendance and what to know about renting for the first time, but what Mitchell and Kennedy seemed to emphasize the most was having open lines of communication for students to come in and talk to them about their ideas or concerns.  

“I like that about where I’m at now, because people finally understand that things are not dictated by administration, that students do have a word,” Mitchell said.

Student Government presidential elections are from April 4 through April 6.

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