After several years of dismal participation in Student Senate, the executive board of that body is rolling out a new system with hopes of reversing the trend.
This year, senators will be elected from residence halls, like years past, but they will also be elected from a few other areas on campus.
“The overall benefit of this amendment is that it will diversify the representation on campus,” Student Body President Kyle Malinowski said. “It guarantees that there will be senators from all over campus.”
Each of the five residence halls will now elect two senators, compared to three in the past. The residents of the St. James Apartment Complex and off-campus students will elect two senators, totaling four. One senator will be elected to represent the Student Apartment Complex, singles complex and College Hall.
The Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Council and the National Pan-Hellenic Council will each appoint one senator, though the process for those elections is still being worked out. In the meantime, an interim senator who will sit until mid-November will be appointed to represent each council.
The next step of the plan is to have one senator represent each academic college.
One way the colleges could choose to be represented is by appointing a student using an existing leadership council.
“If a college, like Liberal Arts and Science, doesn’t have a council, or a council doesn’t want to appoint a student, the dean can appoint the senator,” Malinowski said. “However they’re appointed, the goal is to get them all in at the same time so we don’t have an LAS senator and two weeks later a [Foster College of Business Administration] senator.”
From now on, the senators from the residence halls, greek life and the colleges will be elected each fall.
The final phase of the plan will pull seven students to serve from various student organizations and one student-athlete.
The Association of Residence Halls and the Activities Council will each have a permanent seat. The other five seats will be filled by other student organizations that apply and are approved by Senate each year. This phase should be fully implemented for the start of the spring semester.
“Our goal is to begin meeting with organizations, hopefully every organization, this semester to let them know this opportunity exists,” Malinowski said.
The student-athlete will be chosen by the Braves Council and will vary semester to semester based on which teams are in season.
The senators from student organizations and the Braves Council will be elected each winter.
The goal of this sweeping reorganization isn’t just to fill the seats, but also to ensure there is never an entirely new Senate.
“What happened is, in the fall, a bunch of new people would come in, it would take a month to get the wheels turning, and after that month it’s already October,” Malinowski said. “Once they got started, they’d have the school year to get things done and then at the end of the year you lose everything.”
Malinowski admitted that fewer senators will be directly elected under the plan, but said he felt the benefits outweighed the negatives. Despite many of the senators being appointed by various councils and student organizations, they will still be representing the students who are involved in those colleges or organizations, he said.
“We don’t know if this is going to work,” Malinowski said. “But if it doesn’t, we can just write another amendment and try again.”