Senators required to attend RSO meetings
The Santa Clara
September 27, 2018
The first senate meeting of the year brought updated senator policies and renewed hope for change within the Associated Student Government (ASG).
At the end of last year, a new policy regarding senator accessibility to students was introduced and passed. In the past, senators were required to hold office hours, where they would set up a table in Benson Center and make themselves available to answer questions and discuss concerns.
Not only did the office hour system prove to be ineffective due to the lack of students who approached senators, ASG members were often able to avoid holding office hours by performing other tasks in its place.
This year, a system of more direct engagement and exposure has been put in place in the hopes that senators will engage their constituents more frequency and directly.
The new system requires senators to attend a meeting of a Registered Student Organization that they are not part of twice a quarter.
The goal of this requirement is for students to have more direct access to ASG senators and for senators to experience something new.
Alex Perlman, Senate Chair, believes that this new system will prove to be a more effective way of getting senators into the university community instead of holding office hours.
Not only is it easier to hold senators accountable for their outreach through the new system, it is also a more engaging and fulfilling task for senators.
“I think it’s about how you enforce it,” Perlman said. “We’re changing it to make it fun. When you have complete autonomy on what you choose to do, you’re going to be fully engaged in it. There’s not much purpose when you’re just sitting there for an hour. But when you’re going and talking to people and ideally having fun, there’s a little more purpose to that.”
This push to increase senator exposure might be seen as a result of ASG’s perceived diminishing presence on campus.
While the number of projects and responsibilities taken on by ASG members have not gone down, ASG seems to be facing an ever-decreasing level of popularity amongst students.
One clear indication is the high turnover rate of senators, as well as the lack of competitive races last year.
Some Santa Clara students are completely unaware of ASG’s role on campus.
“I don’t know what ASG has accomplished and if they have accomplished anything, they haven’t made it really public to the students,” sophomore Emily Taina said.
This past student government election included unopposed races for President, Vice President and Senate Chair, as well as uncontested class races.
In some cases, not even five people ran to represent a class. Instead, the remaining seats were filled by application and appointment from the Senate Chair.
ASG members are responsible for various projects and duties, many of which have a significant impact on the quality of students’ experiences at Santa Clara.
This includes projects—which many students likely do not realize are ASG’s responsibility. Some of these projects include the new hammock poles on Kennedy Lawn between Swig and McLaughlin-Walsh Residence Halls, neighborhood meetings to improve off-campus relations with the school, discussions on how the university can improve its diversity and inclusion as well as Santa Clara’s partnership with ZipCar.
Additionally, ASG members are often the student liaisons to Santa Clara administrators.
They sit on various committees and are the voice for Santa Clara students.
Examples of these positions include the Finance Committee that oversees how $75,000 of student money is allocated throughout campus, as well as the committee in charge of Benson’s renovation, where the ASG representative was able to provide input about the changes being made to the dining hall.
As the year unfolds, the senators hope to build their presence on campus and increase interactions with their constituents.
The next senate meeting will be on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. in the Williman Room.
Contact Emma Pollans at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.