"Student Senate is a great place for students to get connected while also serving the student body. Senate is an organization driven by the needs and desires of students and one in which all students are encouraged to voice their comments and concerns. Leadership, service, cooperation — Student Senate has it all."
That’s the description of Student Senate on Northwest’s page for the organization. However, not many people know what it does for students. To put it plainly, Student Senate handles thousands of dollars every year that come directly from fees paid by students. They’re in charge of allocating that money for the advancement of the students and Northwest. For an organization that works for the betterment of the students, Bearcats should pay more attention to it — especially if they’re going to criticize it.
Student Senators are representatives who interact with faculty, staff, administration and the Maryville community on behalf of the student body. Additionally, it aims to be a unified body focused on advancing the interests and well-being of each student. The gist of what you need to know is on the school’s website; a simple search away.
One reason a good amount of Bearcats sit in the dark when it comes to Student Senate could be the lack of visibility on campus. Outside of its persistently empty glass box perched on the third floor of the union, the organization takes a behind-the-scenes role at the University. Another reason could be a general sense of indifference.
“Ignorance is bliss” is a cliché saying, but it seems like the student body lives by it. The less involvement someone has in solving problems on campus, the more reason they have to blame someone else for inconveniences.
This can be solved by learning how your voice matters to Student Senate and how you can help make the Northwest experience better by simply being involved.
For starters, students should show up to elections. Historically, Student Senate elections have had low turnouts, again, possibly resulting from a lack of advertising coupled with a lack of concern. Every four years, the nation is put on notice that the only way for the nation to change is if its people band together to voice what needs to change. Northwest is no different — well, in terms of the cause and effect.
On the other side of the coin, Senate fails to announce its meetings, informationals and general existence. Again, students have attended Northwest and still don’t know what Senate is or how it operates. Senate needs more than just an Instagram page where posts are reposted by the University’s account. As strange as it seems these days, not everybody has an Instagram account.
This year’s turnout for Senate informationals is a good enough indicator of how poorly the organization communicates with the community it aims to serve. Only a few freshmen showed up to meetings explaining how they’ll conduct their campaign and how the election campaign works. It’s also important to note that no student may run for a position if they haven’t attended an informational meeting, per Junior Class President Sydney Looney at a Student Senate meeting.
So, the moral of the story is, if an organization wants people to participate, you have to make sure they know how and, especially, that they need to.
Of course, there’s the issue of nepotism — another problem that can be solved with larger voter participation. Nepotism is defined as the practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs. Unfortunately, popularity contests aren’t just a high school homecoming issue. If you don’t want to see it happen in college, show up to Senate elections.
Student Senate is supposed to be an organization that advances the interests and well-being of students. However, it needs help from the latter half of its name. After all, it all starts with the students.