Hendrix Student Senate elections took place on February 12, and by that evening, the student body received the last email from 2018-2019 Senate President Hannah Burdette.
“On behalf of myself and the Executive Committee, I’d like to say we all feel it has been an honor serving in our positions. I wish all the best to the incoming Senate and urge our campus community to continue approaching important issues with spirits of integrity, humility, compassion, and adaptability.”
With 55.7 percent of the vote, Max Parker was elected President along with his Cabinet Secretary, Jack Sparkman, and President’s Assistant, Sara Hoopchuk. Parker and his cabinet will be accompanied by Maddie Clendening as Vice President who received 73.9 percent of the vote.
Parker said his time in Senate and on Martin Hall Council pushed him to take a step toward Senate leadership and he sees this as an opportunity to show campus that Martin men can do more than have a good time on the weekends.
“We have the organizational skills, the creativity, and the enthusiasm for throwing parties,” Parker said, “and I think we can use all of those skills to make campus more exciting.”
While Parker praises the job of Burdette over the past year, he sees a persisting issue of transparency when it comes to Senate business and an overall understanding of what Student Senate does.
“I think the biggest way we can fix this issue surrounding transparency begins with education,” he said. Parker pointed to popular Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her efforts to revolutionize the way Democratic members of Congress connect to their constituents online and her push to educate her supporters on what life in Congress actually looks like.
Parker isn’t entirely sure what that education looks like at the moment, “but clear and easy explanations of what Senate does is one of my highest priorities.”
Also elected that day was Henry Edwards to the position of Academic Policy Representative. While not a position that garners as much attention as that of the President and their cabinet, the AP Representative sits on the ever-important Academic Policy Committee. This body makes decisions affecting the student handbook and the catalog.
As a voting member on this committee, the AP Rep. serves as the voice of the student body when it comes to major and minor changes, schedule changes, and the addition of new courses. Edwards said, however, that his most important role is in bringing the concerns of students to the committee.
“That’s why it’s incredibly important that students who are facing administrative and faculty/catalog struggles to let me know, so I can bring it up to the board and make steps towards real change.”
Edwards said he received guidance from former AP Rep. Jessica Frazier-Emerson, who explained the position to him and pushed him to run. Frazier-Emerson also made it known that the most important role of the position was to relay the concerns of students to the committee.
Jumping into his role, Edwards said, “One of my main concerns this year will be exploring ways to expand sexual assault education on campus.” He said he has heard many talk about the desperate need for more education past Orientation.
“While I believe the College has made some strides towards better education with measures such as the President’s speaker series, I believe that we have to do more.” Edwards also suggested that language surrounding gender misconduct in the handbook is vague and that this should be addressed while using Exploration classes as a means to further expose freshmen to handbook policy.
After last year’s election debacles, current Elections Commissioner Jacob Turner said this year’s elections were done “exactly by the book.” He said the updated Election Code made the process easier on everyone, “and while there were some violations of the code during the campaign process,” he said, “they were resolved quickly and to everyone’s benefit.”
Turner also said that there was an increased number of candidates running and the fewest number of uncontested races he has seen since he came to Hendrix.
In total, only 43 percent of eligible voters cast their vote on Tuesday. That is 483 out of 1,129 students. Turner said that although there were 100 fewer eligible voters than last year, we saw a three percent increase in participation overall.