Student Body President Spencer Beckman Lays Out RSG Agenda

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Student Body President Spencer Beckman Lays Out RSG Agenda

Student Body President Spencer Beckman

Student Body President Spencer Beckman

Student Body President Spencer Beckman

Student Body President Spencer Beckman

Alice Berry '21, Deputy Editor-in-Chief

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Student Body President Spencer Beckman ’19 discussed Rhodes Student Government’s agenda for this semesteremphasizing the need for a student center and outlining his hopes for RSG’s next president.

“Last semester was a great one for RSG. The Student Senate worked extremely hard on a whole host of issues including student space, free speech on campus and language inclusivity concerning our Rhodes Royalty Homecoming award,” Beckman said.

Previously known as Mr. and Mrs. Rhodes, last semester RSG changed the language of the award in order to include queer and gender non-conforming students.

Beckman has made solidifying plans for a student center one of this semester’s priorities.

“RSG will focus very intentionally on securing student space on our campus that will allow students to better understand and possibly demonstrate our need for a student center. In addition to creating new spaces, we are looking to address current campus spaces that need a little love. Improving residence halls and common spaces will certainly continue to be a necessary focus of RSG’s influence and effort, and RSG intends to use it all to make these places better for students,” Beckman said.

Beckman also expressed hope that a student center could provide a social outlet for students who do not want to drink.

“As we move ever closer to a new RSG president I can’t help but continue to think about student spaces and the desperate need for a Student Center on our campus. The lack of places where students of different majors, backgrounds and beliefs can naturally gather or cross paths hurts our campus in ways to which we have become numb. Student stress and lack of taking care of their own social and mental health is demonstrated in many’s reliance on alcohol, and with no designated place to sit back and relax amongst other students, many of our students are becoming an unhealthy combination of part-time workaholic, part-time alcoholic. We need the next RSG president to be a champion of the fact that while at Rhodes we are not simply students, but individuals that are worth more than just their academic performance and work. I am hopeful that the next RSG president will continue to push for a space like a student center that will not only be fun and popular, but also will be formative in shaping a healthier social culture at Rhodes—we need it,” Beckman said.

During the RSG Town Halls hosted last semester, a majority of students said that they were dissatisfied with their residence halls. Students cited nonfunctional heating and air conditioning, pests and mold among their primary grievances.

Beckman also touched on the importance of feedback from the student body. RSG collected more than 37 thousand pieces of information from opinion surveys, which helps RSG as it negotiates with administration. RSG was able to secure more funding for Rhodes Activities Board, allowing RAB to host the largest-funded Rites of Spring in Rhodes’ history. It placed two new students on the First-Year Seminar Advisory Board to help improve the often-derided First-Year Experience program. RSG also permanently implemented the free tampons and pads initiative, #LetFreedomFlow.

“The demonstrated success and importance of the pad and tampon student-run pilot, along with its 98% approval-rating from the Student body, is easily my favorite of RSG’s accomplishments from the past semester as its permanent future on campus is being concretized,” Beckman said.

It is also thanks in part to RSG that dining at the Rat has improved this semester. From the beginning of last semester and through the controversies surrounding health code violations, mistreatment of employees and foreign objects in food, RSG worked with Aramark management, Rhodes administration and the dining service consulting firm Brailsford & Dunlavy. This semester, Beckman said he will “continue to apply careful pressure on Aramark in order to make this semester of dining the best semester we’ve ever had at Rhodes.”

RSG also hopes to solidify an institutional understanding of free speech on Rhodes campus and to make the University Street crossing safer for pedestrians.

Finally, Beckman expressed his thanks to the Rhodes community. “”I am beyond grateful to the Rhodes community for a great fall semester and I see nothing but further success and growth in store for the Spring Semester,” Beckman said.

NOTE: A previous version of this story mischaracterized Beckman’s statements and the position of administrators regarding a student center. It has been revised to more accurately reflect Beckman and administration.