While my campaign has four components (Wellbeing, Action, Diversity, and Experience), all of these goals need Action to be accomplished. The past year has shown us time and time again that student activism, engagement, and input are critical to making our campus better. I am committed to action on the issues students care about, not just advocacy. As representatives of the student body, everyone in Senate has a responsibility to implement the change students want to see on campus, not to call, advocate, or demonstrate support for it.
There are many issues—from COVID-19 concerns last spring to pass-fail legislation in the fall—where students have turned to Change.org petitions instead of Senate because they felt we were not doing enough to address their concerns. As a Senator for the past two years, and as your next Vice President, your concerns are the first and only responsibility I have.
One of the first campaigns I would like to implement as Student Body Vice President is a refocus on mental health. We know our mental health has been affected over the course of the past year, but we can’t pretend returning to a pre-COVID normal also magically solves mental health concerns. This is another one of the opportunities for proactive action we have seen in recent months.
First, as Vice President I would work with administration to remove the eight counseling session limit at the Bob Smith Health Center. After a student completes their eight sessions per year, they are referred to outside counseling practices that charge hundreds of dollars per session. Mental health counseling is a valuable and important part of student support, and that resource should be available to every student whenever they need it.
Additionally, I would like to align SMU with the Active Minds “Healthy Campus” model for mental health support. One critical component of the Healthy Campus model is adding two to three mental health days in the university’s attendance policy to keep students from being penalized when we miss a day or two of class to take care of ourselves. Another part of the model is printing student support phone numbers—like the 24/7 counselor on-call line and other resources—on the back of student ID cards so every student knows how to get the help they need if they need it.
I recognize when talking about inclusivity and supporting identity-oriented student groups on campus, I can offer only support to the students sharing their experiences and hopes for the SMU community. I know I have had, and likely will have, a different experience at SMU than my peers who identify with a minority group at a primarily white institution, but I want to use my voice and privilege to help change that.
First, I want to work with administration to add cultural education to current and future versions of the Common Curriculum. This addition would help support every student on campus. A robust, student-focused program would foster a more empathetic and open-minded SMU community, give students a better understanding of each other and varying perspectives or experiences, create an environment where minority students feel safer and more confident, and prepare the entire student body for a diverse workplace.
Second, as an RA and second-year member of Student Senate, I have heard about the Bias Education and Response Team’s role on campus in supporting students who are victims of a bias incident and addressing the incident with the perpetrator. I do not think every student on campus is as aware of the BERT team—or the reporting form—and the critical role the team and form play in handling the awful situations that have arisen on campus. I firmly believe that, like the CCC form, incoming and current students need to know about all the resources available to support and protect them
My take on the student experience is two-fold—time spent in and out of the classroom. In the classroom, I am currently working with administrators in the Provost’s Office to create a one-stop-shop to facilitate and address students’ academic concerns. This system would function similar to a CCC form, giving students the opportunity to express any concerns they have with courses, professors, or just wanting connections to available resources.
Furthermore, I believe some practices from the pandemic era should be kept at post-COVID SMU to take advantage of the existing infrastructure SMU has in place. Students are trying to learn and grow in our classes and some of the tools we have grown accustomed to during the pandemic have significantly helped us with that goal and should not be tossed away or turned off just because we can meet in person. For instance, even though classes will be returning to almost entirely in-person in the fall, professors should still record their lectures and use the Panopto or a similar feature on Canvas to share those recordings with their students.
Outside of the classroom, I want to end the RLSH policy that bans student movement into a different Residential Commons. Room selection for the 2021-2022 academic year was the first time RLSH implemented a policy saying students could not move into a different residential commons and could only move into Upper Division Housing if they wanted to room with someone from a different commons. This dramatically hurts students because it prevents students from living with their friends they met literally anywhere on campus other than the residential commons. Second, it does not support the residential commons system by encouraging students who are already involved in the campus community and making friends outside of their building to leave the commons system so they can live with the people they want to live with. The residential commons system is supposed to foster inclusivity and community, but this policy does the exact opposite.
These are just a few of my campaign positions but I am super passionate about many other issues on campus. If you want to check out more of my priorities as Vice President, my website is https://wadeforvp.squarespace.com/ and my Instagram is @Wade_Glover_. Voting opens Tuesday, April 6, on Connect, vote W.A.D.E. for SMU, Wade for VP.