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Student Senate needs to have a tangible impact

Students announced their campaigns for study body president and various positions in Bradley’s Student Senate this week, and the general sentiment is less than excited.

For years now, there has been a pervasive belief that participation in Student Senate is akin to a popularity contest, and that members often fail to enact real changes on Bradley’s campus. Several students have gone as far as calling Student Senate “useless” and have encouraged others to boycott the upcoming elections.

As outlined in the Student Senate Constitution, its primary purpose is to communicate with university administration about and promote matters of importance to the student body. Based on that, Student Senate’s mere existence should inspire confidence in students that they have peers working to enhance Bradley, but that is not the case.

Some people believe students only run for these offices to pad their resume and don’t actually care about improving the university. If this is true, this could be a barrier to real change. Those who want to advocate for the student body need to show more initiative and passion for their positions to gain trust.

The Scout believes that Student Senate has good intentions, but does not do enough to execute plans regarding major issues or follow up with new information. For instance, following the announcement of changes to this year’s commencement ceremony, Student Senate revealed in the comment section of a statement that members worked with the administration to cut down the number of ceremonies from three to two.

As much as the organization preaches communication and advocacy, students were relatively unaware that Student Senate had any involvement with the administration in that process. The statement also showed a lack of initiative, stating that the overall decision was made without conversing with Student Senate.

Ultimately, student leaders need to do a better job of keeping us informed about the ins and outs of their work.

On the flip side, Student Senate does host events throughout the year that give students the chance to express their grievances and learn about what’s happening on campus. Students are invited to show up every Monday at Student Senate’s general assemblies, for which the minutes are public, but these meetings are known for having low attendance. 

Not only that, but participation in Student Senate itself is noticeably low. For example, out of 10 available spots for Senators At-Large, there are currently nine vacancies. If you are a student who wants to see improvements at Bradley, what’s stopping you from being the change you want to see?

As a student, it becomes difficult to critique the organization’s impact or lack thereof when you aren’t interacting with student senators. Everyone needs to participate more and make their voices heard because, after all, it’s Student Senate’s job to listen. 

We shouldn’t only be hearing of Student Senate taking action when there are huge developments happening on campus or when elections roll around. If changes are being made and senators are constantly communicating with the administration like they claim they are, we need to hear about them more often.

There needs to be increased outreach, connection and trust so that we can depend on student senators to listen and make student needs a reality. In the end, it has to be a team effort.

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The Scout is published by members of the student body of Bradley University. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the University.