On April 11th, 2019, the GVSU Student Senate elected Eric-John Szczepaniak to serve as the 2019-2020 Student Body President. Szczepaniak is entering his fourth year on the Student Senate and at GVSU studying Group Social Studies and Secondary Education. He looks forward to working closely with the administration of President Philomena Mantella, the University’s fifth president who begins her tenure on July 1.
In his speech while running for the office, President Szczepaniak talked about the importance of shared governance, increased communication with the student body, and his ongoing work to lower textbook costs at GVSU. Szczepaniak explained why he ran for President the same way that he explains his philosophy for becoming a teacher: to give more people a sense of agency and ownership in their own communities.
In addition to the Student Senate, President Szczepaniak currently serves as a trustee on the Kenowa Hills school board for which he has received over 250 hours of professional development. When asked about the time commitment, he stated that his work with the school board has provided him leadership skills and practice developing and implementing strategic plans.
Over the past year, Szczepaniak wrote and passed more Senate resolutions than any other senator focused on a variety of topics including prohibiting assessments on federal election days, no longer awarding public dollars to businesses that discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals, and adding public comment to the Board of Trustees meetings. After resolutions are passed by the Student Senate, the President of the organization takes these to administrators to advocate on behalf of the student body. President Szczepaniak plans to bring more senators along when advocating for resolutions during his tenure.
He was immediately sworn in following the election of the remaining cabinet roles by outgoing President Rachel Jenkin. The 2019-2020 Student Senate was elected in the end of March and elects its own leadership rather than an at-large student election. He swore in the new cabinet members minutes after taking office.
Eric-John Szczepaniak serves as a trustee for the Kenowa Hills school board and the President of the Michigan Center for Civic Education.