Student Senate Sends Updates

Ilyssa Meyer

An issue that has been perpetually voiced about Senate has been the lack of clarity in the roles and responsibility the body is meant to play on campus. To address this concern, we arranged a panel/workshop titled What the Hell Is Senate?! This panel was held this past Sunday in Hallock Auditorium. You wouldn’t believe the show of student support – four people! I would like to personally thank College junior Emerson French, College first-year Rich Maguire, College junior Stephanie Mora and College sophomore Madeleine O’Meara for attending this panel and searching for clarity in what’s up with Student Senate. I’d also like to thank Dean Linda Gates for her kind words of appreciation and admiration for the Senators.

Although the auditorium lacked a physical presence, it was overflowing with information. We addressed the purpose of Senate as a body, the responsibilities of the Senators, recent actions by the body, our current working groups and projects, reports on the progress of our committees and initiatives we are overseeing. Thirteen (two were sick) Senators sat before an empty auditorium with as much energy and excitement about their work as they would have had with a room full of people.

To the onlooker, this panel/workshop might appear to have been a giant fail. However, we see it as an opportunity for progress. We have put together a clear, cohesive and informative outline for this topic, and now we are ready to address it in more than one medium. We were brainstorming ways to have greater attendance at these discussions and decided that we should shift the purpose of this to a more explanatory and informational session, offered a couple of times each semester. This way, the What the Hell Is Senate?! panel/workshop will align right before elections occur, thus incentivizing people to run for a seat, because they will know what the job entails.

A project that was announced, and met with great excitement, is Senate’s initiative to institutionalize a Student Communications Hub. We have been meeting with the Vice President of Communications Ben Jones and his office to establish the best ways in which we can utilize the student tab on the OnCampus website. Ideally, we would like the content to be entirely student-run, and based around what we (the students) are doing on campus. That includes having realtime information about daily/weekly meetings going on around campus (not just onetime events), granting access to the events calendar to all student liaisons through a training with the Student Union office, and having a virtual bulletin board where all posters that are hung around campus can be digitally displayed on the website with more information about the event. These changes will be extremely beneficial to the way students communicate and coordinate. This project is really gaining speed, and it will continue to be a priority in our work.

Other ideas that arose from this snafu last Sunday were outside-the-box ways to address the perpetual complaint: what is Senate all about? We were thinking Senate at the ’Sco. Maybe Senate Special Meal? You tell us! How can we be more accessible in conveying the work that we do in a tangible and interactive way? Any suggestions can be voiced to a Senator during our office hours (which are on our website), expressed at plenary (Sundays, at 7 p.m. in Wilder 215), or emailed to [email protected].