New student leaders already have things moving
By Mike Kilen
GCU News Bureau
Sam Yonan said he felt indebted to Grand Canyon University after transferring from a California college and discovering a vibrant campus full of opportunity.
He hasn’t wasted any time paying back his debt in the first weeks of the new academic year, fulfilling his promises after last spring’s election to Student Body President at Associated Students of GCU (ASGCU).
That included improving the campus shuttle.
“As the campus and student body continue to grow and grow eastward, I think there are ways we can improve on that service,” said Yonan, who majors in government with an emphasis on public policy.
He quickly began to work with Public Safety officials to discuss it soon after he and other student government leaders arrived on June 25 to prepare and train for the new year.
By the start of fall classes, new shuttle routes, schedules and a map were in place.
“Once we began collaborating with ASGCU President Sam Yonan and Executive Vice President Bret Malkin, the ideas for improvement began to flow,” said Robert Kuhn, Commander of the Grand Canyon University Police Department. “Their input and representation are truly what will make this a valuable service to the campus community.”
Drivers now stick to a set route and schedule, making it easier for riders to know where shuttles will be and when, Kuhn said.
The routes connect parking garages to popular campus locations and run from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday. The west route has seven stops in 30 minutes before repeating. A second route was added for the east side of campus, with four stops in 20 minutes.
Shuttles are now clearly marked to be easily identifiable, and signs are in the works.
It’s the first step in what Yonan says drives him — to work for students. ASGCU acts as a liaison between students and administration and faculty. He said he kept students in mind working through the budget process this summer, mindful that tuition helps pay for his organization.
“How is it directly invested in the student that comes from a one-mother or one-father household that has to maybe work two jobs for that student to come here?” he asked. “So we have been diligent with our budget proposals, making sure that money is really invested into the student body.”
Another priority for ASGCU is helping the campus become more environmentally friendly.
“We want to be better stewards of God’s creation,” Yonan said.
GCU has a head start on other universities, he continued, because of its large percentage of ground students who live on campus and often use skateboards and scooters to get around.
“But we could use more recycling,” he said. “It’s important to keep our campus pretty, and one way we do that is by reducing the waste on campus, making sure the trash is collected, making sure we are recycling as much as we can.”
ASGCU’s team will work with waste-collection representatives to find answers in the coming months.
“We have been looking into handing out more recycling bins on campus,” said Courtney Sharp, ASGCU’s Administrative Vice President. “We have found that a lot of people in individual rooms or apartments don’t have them.”
Sharp said they also are looking into new reusable bags to lower the use of plastic bags on campus.
“We want to have one that is more ‘GCU-esque.’ We really want to use our school pride in a reusable bag. We all get stickers and shirts, but this is a way to be proud of your school while still being sustainable,” she said.
Green Week, scheduled for Nov. 11-15, will have events and education to motivate students.
Another event organized by ASGCU is a week of awareness on harassment, set for Oct. 21-25.
Yonan and his team also will continue to work on other items in his platform: expanding a rewards program of punch cards for items in GCU stores and eateries to keep in mind that students are on a tight budget, and creating a house of representatives made up of delegates from each of the more than 150 student clubs.
“We want to keep an open ear to students on anything they need to be changed,” he said. “We do represent students. One of our representatives puts it a good way — that ASGCU is the customer service for students on campus. I think that’s a great way to put it.”
Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.