By Gracie Ferrell
Every other Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. dozens of Union students can be found milling around Harvey Hall for a Student Senate meeting where Republicans are seated next to Democrats, senators wear Converses rather than suits and topics of discussion include sidewalk construction and squeaky doors.
“Senate serves as a mediator to make the administration aware of things that Union students want to see happen on campus,” said Kylie McDonald, Student Government Association vice president, senate speaker and sophomore political science major. “We also have a budget that organizations can request money from to help fund events, cover travel expenses or serve in the community.”
Karl Magnuson, SGA president and junior engineering major, said “Every active organization on campus is allotted two senator positions. The executive officers for the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior classes are also able to represent the student body at Union’s Student Senate. An average senate meeting has between 80 to 100 students representing Union.”
Bills and resolutions are presented in the Student Senate meetings; then senators have a time to question, debate and vote on each matter.
Bills differ from resolutions for one main reason. Resolutions declare something such as general statements or requests of the university administration that fall outside of what the SGA would be capable of completing. However, bills mandate SGA or senate action such as allocating funds for a campus organization or changing some type of SGA function or action.
The recent change in student e-mail addresses, the TVs in the Lexington Inn being turned on, the refurbishing of the Penick Academic Complex, the painting of speed bumps, the construction of a patio outside of Barefoots Joe coffeehouse and the extension of Emma Watters Summar library hours are among improvements SGA has been able to bring about.
Students who would like to suggest or write a bill or resolution for the Student Senate are encouraged to find and talk with their class representatives.
“Only senators can present bills,” McDonald said. “So (students) need to find a senator to present it for them. Ideally, they would present it to their class officers, the SGA for sophomores, etc., and that class would present it for them. That’s really SGA’s job, to represent the interest of students.”
Many students participate in the Student Senate to remain an active part of the campus and the activities and changes that take place on it.
“It is a minimal time commitment and a great way to get involved on campus and make a difference,” said Sarah Hill, senator for Students in Free Enterprise and sophomore marketing and psychology double major.
“Everyone has a voice if they choose to use it,” Magnuson said. “It is impossible not to find a place to be involved in senate — odds are everyone is in at least one organization that could use another person to represent them in senate.”
Logan Smith, sophomore English major, recently won the position of sophomore class president.
“I want to represent our class in a way that they would be pleased at the decisions I will make,” Smith said. “Likewise, it’s also important that I have conversations with my peers about what they would like to see happen during my term. My ultimate goal is to be a strong leader, and working toward a great conclusion to this semester— with fun events along the way.”
More information regarding the Student Government Association and Student Senate can be found at www.uu.edu/studentlife/sga.