With a budget of almost half a million dollars, the Undergraduate Student Senate has the power to influence the daily lives of students. While the Student Senate has used that money to improve campus in several ways, there is a lot of room for improvement both on the senate side and student involvement side..
One of these large impacts is creating a phone app to help benefit the communication and spread of information throughout campus. In addition, Student Senate has installed bike racks, hydration stations and barbecue covers.
With 1,788 undergraduate students paying activity fees of $232 per year, Student Senate pulls in a total of $414,816. With students paying directly for the services Student Senate provides, students need to speak up when it comes to asking for services they want.
Student Senate is made up of five undergraduate students and they are supposed to represent and make decisions for the entire undergraduate student body. This is a huge task, especially when the general population is not effectively communicating their needs and desires. If students make their voices heard, Student Senate will respond; they have before. In the fall semester of 2013 there were sudden fees that were added to winter term classes that the student body did not support and Student Senate helped the student body stand up for themselves.
In fact, they were angry enough to not only speak up, but to actively participate in a sit-in to protest the fees. Student Senate, after hearing the dissatisfaction, helped organize the sit-in. This lead to the fees being dropped.
Aside from the one incident in 2013, students generally do not let the senate members know what their opinions are, despite the countless surveys that are sent out for responses.
With the lack of communication from students, Student Senate has also become lax in asking for student responses. Although this is understandable, it is not acceptable. For example, there is discussion of replacing our mascot’s costume. Not only replacing the 15-year-old costume, but also giving it a complete redesign.
While Student Senate has made the decision to redesign the mascot, they did not see if this was a concern for students. Involving students in the redesign process has been talked about, but it is not yet confirmed. Both students and senate are at fault for not communicating and reaching out to have a better, more effective working relationship.
If a student has an idea for improving campus life, they need to reach out and say something. The senate is not going to know there is an issue until someone says something. It is not acceptable to be under the illusion that someone else will speak up. If Student Senate is proposing to have a change on campus that has an impact on the students they were elected to serve, it is their duty to ensure their decisions align with the wishes of those they represent.
Students are welcome to attend Senate meetings and open forums to allow their voices to be heard. In our current age of technology, it has never been easier to be enablers of change and improvement. It is time we start behaving like we belong in this century.