Student Senate is up and running again for the year with a freshly elected body of representatives that urges students to get involved and make their voices heard.
“I definitely want people to see the Student Senate as a resource, not just as a place to come and get money,” said Vice President and junior Tevin Liao. “This is a place where you can bring problems into a larger focus. We carry the weight of the student body when we reach out to administration.”
Senate’s plans for the year mainly revolve around what the students want to focus on, which largely include Title IX and diversity. President and senior Charlie Harned sees Senate’s job as reflecting student interests—beyond allocating funds.
“A great example is the Title IX conversation going on on campus,” Harned said. “Senate constitutionally does not have to take a part of that. It’s not our obligation, but it’s really important to students, really important to members, really important to the executive board, really important to me, so we’re going to…pay a lot of attention and really try to help out the students who are fighting for things, be a conduit of conversation.”
Plans include facilitating discussions among the student body and discussing further points with the administration.
“One of the reasons why those issues still persist on college campuses in general, but also Knox, is you can’t just throw money at it,” Harned said. “Money can’t fix Title IX. If we could, we would just throw money at it, but it’s more complicated than that.”
Senate also instituted a requirement last year that two executive board members from every club attend diversity training in order to receive any funds from Senate, and this plan is ongoing. And Liao has a project underway, now taken up by the Knox Interfaith Council, to develop non-denominational prayer spaces on campus.
Other goals involve working with Bon Appetit.
“Our job is to gather feedback from the student body,” said chair of the Dining Services Committee and junior Max Wallace.
He hopes to facilitate a general forum sometime in the near future to hear what students have to say about recent changes.
Student Senate urges students to get involved with them and make their voices heard. General assembly meetings, which take place every Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Trustees Room (location subject to change), are open to the public.
“[Senate] is probably one of the most influential groups on campus for student life, but [does] not [get] much engagement from the students,” he said. “There’s a lot of issues on campus which need to be addressed, that are being discussed, and we’d love nothing more than for people to go to the committee meetings.”
Two representatives of the freshman class, Jyotsna Seesala and Deena Helm said they are available via email, social media and face-to-face, encouraging other freshmen to connect with them as much as possible.
“Everyone has something that they want to see different on this campus,” Liao said. “We won’t know unless someone tells us. Talk to someone—if you don’t, nothing will ever happen.”