Newly elected Western Student Association President Sean Nicholl was inaugurated into office Wednesday afternoon, presiding over his first session as head of the student government organization.
Within the first few minutes of his new administration, Nicholl affirmed his commitment to expand the organization’s reach across the greater student population, during his inauguration speech in front of around 60 students. A number of Western Michigan University administrators were present during the meeting as well, including President John Dunn, Provost Timothy Greene and Vice President for Student Affairs Diane Anderson.
“Everyone in this room understands what we are trying to accomplish, but with a school as large as ours, 80 people in a room just isn’t enough,” said Nicholl. “We will try and make WSA more accessible and approachable, and always be open and listening, whether it’s dealing with a large RSO or a single individual. We will listen.”
Although nearly 1,700 students voted in the presidential election two weeks ago, Nicholl and members of his current administration are well aware that this is merely a fraction of the over 25,000 people attending WMU. With this in mind, the three-year WSA veteran will look for different avenues to increase the presence of the organization within student organizations.
“It’s almost like a nagging effort,” Nicholl said. “A lot of people don’t know the benefits of WSA and what it can do for [RSOs]. We want to push to show the great things WSA is doing and what we can do for these organizations, so we can get more students and student involvement, not just from RSOs but from students from [academic] colleges as well.”
One idea the new president was considering to further this cause was to explore the possibility of moving weekly meeting times from 4:15 p.m., in order to attract students with afternoon classes to attend.
“You’re here for your education first, so we want to make sure we are doing this at a time that isn’t interfering with students’ academics,” said Chris Rettich, WSA’s current chief of operations.
Expansion is only one of many goals that Nicholl’s administration has laid out for the foreseeable future. The new leadership is looking to “hit the ground running” with a number of initiatives over the next year, ranging from gathering suggestions for a new student union to formalizing a relationship with the Office of Sustainability.
“My biggest goal is to leave [WMU] in a better standing than I received it,” Nicholl said. “This university has done a lot for me. This is my way to give back and advocate on behalf of the students. I expect big things from WSA next year, and I’ll settle for nothing less.”
Collin Mays, Nicholl’s running mate, was also inaugurated as vice president during the weekly meeting, joining Rettich and Megan Walsh, the sustainability chair, on the new administration. Further cabinet positions will be filled in the coming weeks, with applications available on the WSA webpage for interested students.
Wednesday was not just a day of beginnings, but endings as well. Outgoing WSA President Erin Kaplan delivered her farewell address at the meeting, highlighting the successes of her administration and giving thanks to her colleagues that supported her over the past year.
“WSA is doing big things, and [Nicholl] will carry that legacy, I’m sure,” Kaplan said.
A number of other important positions were filled during the meeting as well. Jasmine Neldon, the former vice president, will serve a second term as senate Speaker, after a unanimous vote by members in attendance. Brandy Morgan was elected as speaker pro tempore.
A number of senators, representing various academic colleges from the university, were elected as well, all by unanimous consent:
College of Arts and Sciences
• Latasia Black
• Erin Eggleston
• Paul Friedlander
• Marissa Kerber
• Nikki Ledbury
• Brandy Morgan
• Dominick Salazar
• Joe Szuszalak
• Matt Vargo
Haworth College of Business
• Molly Cahill
• Justin Scharphorn
College of Education and Human Development
• Katie Berlin
• Elizabeth McKendry
• Peter Owens
• Rebecca Kowalski
College of Engineering and Applied Sciences
• Sear Rahimi
Lee Honors College
• Bryleigh Loughlin
• Alyson Wiley