Wayne State’s Student Senate approved the implementation of future pilot programs in its virtual meeting Thursday. The programs are intended to support students’ needs at WSU.  

Senate presented five projects discussed over the 2020-2021 academic year for feedback from President M. Roy Wilson and Interim Provost Laurie Lauzon Clabo, who were also in attendance. Wilson and Clabo said the WSU would back these initiatives and provide financial support from the university. 

The Mental Health First Aid project, presented by Senate president Riya Chhabra and School of Social Work Student Representative Rajan Varmon, includes hiring an additional staff member for the Campus Health Center and Counseling and Psychological Services.

“For the Mental Health First Aid Initiative, we hope to advocate for every student’s mental health needs across campus,” Varmon said. 

The development of the Campus-wide Black Council project was led by Treasurer Jasmine Coles and Director of Student Services Kamali Clora. This new group would work to improve African American graduation rates as well as general Black student success, according to the resolution. 

“The Campus-wide Black Council came from an idea that Kamali and I had to basically take all the things that we knew that Black students were really struggling on when it came to graduation and put them all in one coalition to make sure that Black students would be able to find all of the resources that they need in just one easy place,” Coles said.

Wilson commended Senate for the work that went into finding ways to improve WSU, he said. 

“I think a lot of people complain about things sometimes but then they don’t have a solution, and this just shows that you guys are really thinking about solutions to try to deal with issues that we know we have and we want to correct,” Wilson said in response to the Campus-wide Black Council. “But to come up with solutions is really helpful, and we’ll always help you if you try to come up with solutions that address the same things we’re concerned about.”

The Menstrual Products Pilot Program will offer free feminine hygiene products in three bathrooms on campus in fall 2021, Chhabra said. The hope is to expand this number to six locations depending on the success of the upcoming trial period, she said.

Another program presented was the course Information Matrix, which is a digital platform allowing professors to upload course materials prior to their scheduled classes. This would allow students to view these materials before enrollment, said Vice President Marcella Eid. 

“This is an initiative that Student Senate has been working on for over two years now,” Eid said. “Initially, it was just an idea, an idea that stemmed from students. A lot of students came to us with concerns saying that when they register for classes they don’t really know what they’re getting themselves into...” 

The  Water Bottle Refill Station pilot program proposes putting additional stations on the second and third floors of the Undergraduate Library, Chhabra said.

“With the pandemic, we all kind of came together and realized that this might be a safer alternative and to have this in more buildings would help a lot of students because it does provide clean water as well as a safer alternative to the regular water fountain,” Chhabra said.

This program, however, faced pushback from some Senate members when it came time to discuss and vote on the initiatives. Senate proposed to provide up to $5,000 for the stations, but Sailor Mayes, director of government affairs, said the price was entirely too high.

“I think Facilities should be paying, not the whole thing, but I don’t think we should be paying half of it because although this does benefit students, we could use other money to benefit students in a different way, and I think allocating that much funding toward something, I almost feel like they’re using us for our money that we have.”

Other senators, such as Secretary Madison Wiljanen, said Senate paying for a large portion of the costs ensures its involvement in bettering the campus community.

“I think it’s a nice idea to be able to leave Senate with some money to start off with, but I also want to bring up the point that paying for the actual dispenser, it’s more than just the physical construction of it," Wiljanen said. "The work that you guys have put into it, if you let Facilities pay for it, then it’s just something that isn’t like a Senate initiative, in my opinion.”  

WSU Student Senate will have its final meeting of the academic year on April 15 at 6 p.m. via Zoom.

Alanna Williams is a correspondent for The South End. She can be reached at alannawilliams@wayne.edu.

Cover photo by Guneet Ghotra. She can be reached at fz8387@wayne.edu.