The Daily Mississippian recently sat down with the heads of the three branches of student government — the Associated Student Body president, vice president and judicial chair — to discuss their goals and plans for the upcoming semester.
Associated Student Body President Elam Miller wants to ensure students are involved in the entire process of selecting the new chancellor instead of only being involved with portions of the search.
“We don’t want it (to be) just a rubber stamp that just the student body president, or someone like that, met with the new candidate,” Miller said. “We want many students to be involved in this search process, and we want them to be involved from the start of the criteria process, the search and through the very end.”
Miller said he has reached out to several officials at the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning concerning student representation in the search for a chancellor, but he hasn’t received specific details about when and how students could be involved.
He also said he is advocating for increased transparency in university administration, especially by making changes that would enable more students to attend the meetings of the Chancellor’s Standing Committees. These committees often make important recommendations to senior leadership that Miller said students should be a part of.
“There’s just no way for students to actually be involved in creating policies on campus,” Miller said. “We have a whole policy directory online, and a lot of them actually require that there’s student input in (the policies). And then that’s not (actually) happening.”
ASB Vice President Walker Abel, the head of the legislative branch, said he wants to hold public forums for each ASB Senator, allowing them to meet with their constituents and hear about their concerns.
“A representative from the School of Engineering would meet with engineering students to see what their concerns and thoughts are,” Abel said. “We want to make sure that senators understand that these are really big opportunities and just make it a bit easier for them to do those.”
He also said he wants to introduce a resolution to encourage a Waffle House franchise to come to Oxford.
The ASB Committee on External Affairs started a Facebook page last semester in support of attracting the franchise. The page has been liked by 389 people.
Earlier in the semester, Daily Mississippian columnist Jacob Gambrell wrote a column in support of a Waffle House franchise coming to Oxford. The column attracted widespread attention and support. Read it here.
Judicial Chair Alex Crouch, the head of the judicial branch, said he wants to modernize the judicial branch to make the judicial process a “restorative model” rather than a “punitive model.”
Crouch said another goal he has is to host a campus-wide “mock trial” of the University Judicial Council so the campus can see what takes place during a trial for a violation of university policy. He said the judicial council previously did this for freshmen but would like to extend it to the entire student body.
Most of the council’s actual trials are private due to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.
“We brought in a few council members, and we had the audience partake in the case,” Crouch said. “We have kind of a scripted thing at first, and then everybody in the audience got to know ‘How would you evaluate this piece of evidence?’ and ‘How would you rule in that?’
Jarvis Benson, an ASB senator and president of the Black Student Union, said he plans to listen to the student voices that for a “long time have not been heard.”
“I think ASB should focus on pushing our university officials to continue to mold and progress,” Benson said. “While things like parking are always going to be a concern, more important are things that affect our university in the long term. We need to focus on leadership.”
The Daily Mississippian conducted a poll on Twitter that yielded responses from nearly 300 individuals. The poll demonstrated that students overwhelmingly want ASB to address parking issues on campus. Students also said they wanted ASB to make sure mental health services are offered efficiently and that students have a larger voice in decisions made by university administration.
Josh Parkman, a senior general business major, said he appreciated how ASB focused on student involvement in statewide elections last semester.
“We should have a polling area on campus when elections come around again because a lot of students live far from home, and that could help with student involvement,” Parkman said.
Olivia Jordan, a freshman public policy major, said she wants to see more action toward introducing an A+ grade to the university’s grading scale.
“Last semester, there was a lot of talk about the ASB Senate adding a resolution to have an A+ to balance out the A–, and nothing actually happened. This semester, if they could follow through with that, then I think it could help the student body with GPA.”