Every Wednesday at 6 p.m. during the school year, Student Senate, a subsidiary of the SGA office, meets to discuss issues facing the student body. More often than not, this comes down to budget concerns for the committee, but also for the approval of the formation of clubs of all shapes and sizes.
The senate also meets to discuss budgetary concerns of the individual clubs. While having a small budget to work with, they have the final say on allocating funds to each group. They also receive general statements from the students, which let them know what issues are most important among the student body. This is a vital function of the senate that allows students at AU to have a say in how things at the university are run.
The Senate, much like the United States Congress, is also divided into several different committees that oversee specific issues. In one example, provided by Senate chair Michael Weigel, a committee was formed to address the issue of disabled accessibility on campus, following complaints from a student whose parent is a paraplegic.
While one would hope that such things would be taken into consideration by the university without necessarily needing student input, the fact that a student committee exists to address this issue shows the important role that student involvement can play in larger issues.
Committees typically meet on a biweekly basis to discuss the issues for which they were formed. Like the larger senate, these committees collect statements from students, which they take into consideration for the issues at hand.
The Senate hosted Meet Your Senator, which is an event that will let you get close to the students who have taken it upon themselves to be the voice of the entire campus to the administration. This is the inaugural occasion of this event, but the senate hopes that it will become a regular occurrence.
The student senate has recently established both a Twitter and Instagram account so that AU students can keep directly up to date with the day-by-day proceedings of the senate.
The importance of such events cannot be understated. While it can become easy to feel like just another number on a spreadsheet, we do have a voice. The conduit for that voice is the student senate, so making sure to utilize that conduit is important. Issues that affect the student body can come up at any time.
Whether the issue is new, the students are concerned that the issue is not being addressed properly or the administration is simply not aware of the issue, it is important that students make their thoughts known. The best way to do this is to provide comments to the senate that can be passed on to the administration. The informal meet and greet nature of the Meet Your Senator event can allow them to get a deeper insight into what actually goes on behind the doors of the student senate.