The student senators’ contribution to the biggest initiative supposedly headed by the Senate this year has been thoroughly insufficient.

Throughout the year the Senate has unsuccessfully attempted to attack a few major projects on campus. Last September they made a valiant attempt to be more inclusive of the student body by hosting a weekly open forum where students could air their complaints, ideas or general comments about the state of the University. One student showed up. Due to lack of advertising and inadequate publicity this forum fizzled out after a few weeks.

In November they considered furnishing dorms and student hangouts with national newspapers. That idea dissolved quickly and without much notice.

In December they were passionate about the dissatisfying state of academic advising. They talked for hours, bemoaning the unacceptable service, but after a few weeks the formerly luminescent body blew a fuse and the lights went out, the fuse never to be replaced.

The only effort that’s been maintained is the indexing of the Student Activity Fee (SAF). This project should be under the control of the Senate but was initiated not by the Senate but by the Student Communication Board (SCB), which is the protective body shielding The Free Press and WMPG from potential Senate wrath.

Though Senate and media relations this year are friendly, they’ve been contentious in the recent past, and this body protects media interests while being inclusive of the presiding government.

The committee formed under the SCB to spearhead this effort initially was comprised of various leadership from student organizations under the Senate (myself included) and two senators. Though momentum was full throttle in the beginning, as the semester and then the year progressed, members of the committee slowly fell away. They were pulled away because they had to plan parties, put out a paper or catch up on their schoolwork.

The brunt of the work has been carried by two people, one of which is a senator and the other an at-large student not officially connected to any student organization. They’ve done the research, planning and communicating necessary to promote this effort. The plan, if passed by student referendum, is to change the Student Activity fee increase from once every seven years or so to yearly according to inflation. The argument is reasonable. Why allow the fee to decline in value yearly and then shock the community every seven years with a noticeable increase when you can maintain the value by incrementally increasing it by inflation rates?

This effort should be something the Senate is personally interested in. Their primary function is the distribution of this fee. Their job, as written in the mission statement of their constitution, is to “appropriate the Student Activity Fee to a set of entities that serve student needs, and keep these partnerships strong.” Providing a fee that doesn’t consistently decline in value over the years would assist in maintaining strong partnerships.

In keeping with this intention, it would seem they would be interested in helping with the activity fee project. The only helpful thing they’ve done is pass the proposal presented by the SAF committee. They’re the parent organization of all student groups (who benefit from this fee) and should be setting an example by getting into the community and educating students about the importance of this change. They should be volunteering to petition and work election day urging students to vote for this referendum that ultimately benefits them. It would be a disservice to the community if the Senate fails to act on this.

Christy McKinnon can be contacted at [email protected]

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