In the Spring of 2022, Bryce McCullough ’23 ran a campaign for Student Body President to improve campus unity, bring more transparency to the Student Senate and improve student life on campus.Along with his running-mate, Benjamin Sampsell ’24, the nominees made several promises during their campaign, including to mandate that Senators serve on Student Senate committees, to advocate for a revised academic policy that prohibited assignments from being given around breaks and to host multiple town halls where students could voice their opinions before the cabinet.
Throughout the campaign, McCullough enforced his message that he would take Student Senate off “autopilot.”
Now, reaching the halfway point of the McCulloughSampsell administration, we asked McCullough how well he was able to keep his campaign promises.
Overall, McCullough believes that, while his goals for his tenure as Student Body President haven’t shifted, the realities of the position have made him realize what is more realistic.
“I’ve learned, especially in this position, that I’m a bit of an idealist,” McCullough said. “I like to think that things are going to go the way I hope they do, but the reality is, at Wabash, everyone is doing a thousand different things. So I can be as excited about a project or an idea as I want it to be, but you’ve got to get the people to show up. You’ve got to get the people to do the work. So in that way, maybe my goals haven’t changed, because I think goals drive us to do good work, but I think my awareness of being realistic and practical has increased over my time.”
With a semester as President behind him, the McCullough administration has had an opportunity to reflect on how well they kept the promises they made during their campaign. Among these promises was to require Senate members to join committees.
“We got a lot of positive feedback on that,” said McCullough. “All Senators decided to sign up for a committee. So we have both committee members who are senators and committee members who are at large and don’t have a Senate position. That’s the compromise we made. It’s not just Senators on committees, we’re getting everybody active. But if you’re an elected member and you’re representing your peers, you should at least be on a committee, like how the actual Senate works.”
McCullough said that the new policy has caused the Senators to be much more active in their roles.
“The reality is they have a job to do,” McCullough said. “They ran for a reason, and they should not simply be responsible for showing up and casting a vote on the budget every Sunday night. I think it’s a more rewarding experience when you’re more involved and I think that’s the first step to a better, more active Senate.”
McCullough believes that the policies he has implemented so far have been effective, especially in fulfilling his campaign promise of taking Student Senate off “autopilot.”
“I think goals drive us to do good work, but I think my awareness of being realistic and practical has increased over my time.”Bryce McCullough ’23, Student Body President
“Getting Senators on committees has helped solve that problem tremendously, as well as getting good committee chairs who are dedicated to doing the work,” McCullough said. “It really is a constant battle, because I want to recognize that everyone has a lot of things going on, including myself. Don’t get complacent is basically the point, and I think we’ve created the mechanism to allow us to run Senate on a more manual basis rather than autopilot.”
While the McCullough-Sampsell administration has fulfilled their promise to make Senators fill committee roles, there are still some campaign promises they have not yet fulfilled. One of these promises was to fight for breaks free of academic obligations.
“What we found is that there’s a lot more bureaucracy and resistance to adopting an academic policy than we thought,” said McCullough. “What we got throughout last semester was, ‘can you get us more research on this?’ They’re just skeptical about it, and we have to show them some data.”
Sampsell, Chairman of the Academic Policy Committee along with his duties as Vice President, has been working with the committee to find a solution to this issue.
“Basically, right now we’re working on submitting an official policy recommendation to the faculty who are in charge of making and overseeing the academic policies of the school,” Sampsell said. “We know that students have in the past submitted an official proposal to cancel classes the last two days before any finals week. We know that it was considered and that at least there was some headway made. So we’re trying to do something similar.”
McCullough echoed Sampsell’s sentiment about wanting to work more closely with the Academic Policy Committee.
“We’re trying to expand the work with the Academic Policy Committee,” McCullough said. “We’ve been consistently asking for help on pushing back due dates of exams and papers right after spring break and adopting a policy there. I’m adding a couple more members to that committee so that we can do more research on what that sort of policy would look like. I wish we could have addressed it quicker, but I am cautiously optimistic that we can at least move the needle on it by the end of the semester.”
Another promise that has not yet been accomplished by the McCullough-Sampsell administration is to hold multiple campus-wide town halls.
“I pitched the idea and everyone seemed to think that they never worked,” McCullough said. “I was actually pretty satisfied by the work that the Senators were doing last semester and the increased communication we were able to get. We started updating students on the work of the Senate, not only through social media, but now we give Senate updates at Chapel Talk.”
McCullough said that the Student Senate has been working on more ways to engage with the campus at-large.
“I am creating the Special Committee on Campus Engagement this semester to gain more feedback from the student body to make sure that they’re feeling heard and that we know what we’re doing well and what we could improve on,” McCullough said. “So, that committee will be tasked with putting together anonymous polls or surveys, maybe even putting together town halls if they want to.”
McCullough is open to having town halls in the future, but wants to make sure that it is the most effective way to receive student feedback.
“I just want to create a culture where people are bought into the Wabash experience”Bryce McCullough ’23, Student Body President
“It may not be a town hall that’s most effective,” McCullough said. “Maybe it’s just a survey that would be most effective. Maybe people wouldn’t be motivated to come to a town hall unless it’s a pressing issue. That’s why I want a committee to work on it.”
McCullough said he was excited about the initiatives the Senate will be bringing in the spring semester.
“One goal is to see to it that we have a successful National Act. The committee started planning very early last semester, and we are very close to having a contract signed,” McCullough said. “We really want that to be the biggest National Act we’ve ever had, like thousands of people. I know last year was actually pretty good and had pretty good attendance, so we want to top that again and invite more people from off-campus to participate.”
In addition to National Act, McCullough said he was excited about many more initiatives proposed by the Student Senate Executive Board, such as Students Events planning to bring a speaker to campus with the assistance of an organization called Free The Facts and to host a thrifting event, continuing events at Wally’s such as trivia and karaoke nights, bringing back the Find Wally scavenger hunt and increasing recycling programs and awareness through a grant received by the Environmental Concerns Committee.
“The big thing is for me, I want people to be able to go and do things here. I don’t want people to feel like they have to leave Wabash,” said McCullough ‘23.
With the help of the Senators, McCullough hoped to have a real and lasting impact on Wabash.
“I just want to create a culture where people are bought into the Wabash experience,” McCullough ‘23 said, “I hope that Senators take their jobs seriously and that we can actually have a huge impact on campus. We can never get complacent because we’re only through one semester. We have a semester left. We cannot let our foot off the gas. We have to keep going, because we have a duty to the students and we want to make it the best experience possible.”