In an effort to be more inclusive, the 98th Student Senate proposed adopting 11 new Senate positions for the 2021-22 academic year.
Elizabeth Motazedi, freshman class representative for the 98th Student Senate, proposed these positions to bring in representatives from each of Northwest’s academic departments to represent students within their respective fields. These positions, if approved, would be appointed by professors and advisers within the academic departments and voted on by students in the fall during freshman class representative elections.
A potential problem with the proposed positions is the ability to fill them. Six voting positions weren’t filled in the 99th Student Senate due to lack of people running for them.
“I’d like to say they would be filled, but honestly I couldn’t tell you,” Motazedi said. “These past two Senate elections have been so weird because of COVID-19, like having two executive offices run unopposed. I definitely don’t think that it is because people aren’t interested. I think it is because COVID-19 has taken it out of everyone.”
Though there have been challenges in filling positions, Motazedi has continued with the proposal to bring new members to Senate.
“I think we should make them full Senators, and they would have voting positions, be required to go to every meeting, but also I think they should even have higher requirements,” Motazedi said.
Since these Senators would represent their respective departments, Motazedi said they would be required to have passing grades in all major-specific classes and be held to the same standards as other voting Senators, like having a 2.5 GPA and holding office hours.
While Student Senate has organizational representatives like a Student Activities Council representative, Motazedi said she is looking to bring in more students from the academic side.
“One of the main things I am really trying to do is have more representation besides just class Senators and representatives from organizations here on campus,” Motazedi said. “I really think it would be beneficial for the academic departments to have some voices here.”
Having more representation, Motazedi said, allows for more feedback from students that aren’t usually reached by the Student Senate.
“When we are voting on lowering tuition by 10 cents or (discussing) the rollover budget, that’s a significant amount of money, and I think it’s really important for someone who is in the School of Social Sciences to be like, ‘Hey, we don’t have any seating areas in this building; let’s try to get something there,’” Motazedi said. “I think we really need those voices.”
Another potential problem is whether they will keep the proposed positions if it turns out nobody is available to fill them. With the original proposal from Motazedi, Senate discussed only having representatives from the top five departments on campus, but after some feedback, it was decided that opening it to all 11 departments would be the best option.
The 99th Student Senate President Bailey Hendrickson thinks that they would be able to get those five representatives but may struggle to have people fill all eleven of them.
“The issue is if we are going to be able to get all of the people,” Hendrickson. “If we aren’t able to get all 11, do we settle for the five? Or do we try and get those spots filled? It’s definitely a conversation that the 99th Student Senate will have to have in the fall.”
Despite the potential problem of not filling these spots, Motazedi said the Senate is on board with the approval.
“What we need to do now is get the ball rolling and reach out to students,” Motazedi said. “This would be a trial year for sure. Say we do it, and it’s not working out, and students aren’t interested in this, then of course we can cancel it out or find another solution.”