Columns / Discourse / May 17, 2017

Discussing Student Senate (dis)qualifications

I ran for Chair of Health and Wellness Committee in the recent Student Senate Elections, but unfortunately my name never made it on the roster. I was sent the several emails telling us to run, signed up with my ballot statement and was able to participate in the Chair debates held on April 26.

However, it wasn’t until I emailed the Vice President of Student Senate the following afternoon that I was notified Senators aren’t allowed to run if they are planning to study abroad during their year of service.

I came across this policy on Knox’s website and brought it to their attention, and it bothers me that they let me run and campaign without communicating that qualification. I’d never considered participating in student government before now because of my general disinterest in politics, but I got excited at the opportunity to share some of the recent knowledge I gained about Health and Wellness resources both on campus and nearby in the Galesburg community. The Counseling and Disability Services here at Knox have been extremely helpful and referred me to the Department of Health and Human Services for attentive-disorder testing. We have so many resources available that I’d love for more students to know about, but I guess I’m not qualified. On Knox’s website, it says that Student Senate “serves as:

  • An open forum to debate a variety of campus issues
  • A platform to make suggestions for improvement on issues and long-standing policy
  • A place for students to ask for budget approvals for their clubs or for events they would like to bring to campus
  • A means to make the Knox campus more dependent on student thought, opinion, and actions”

I hope Senate will consider who is qualified to represent a committee in the future, as well as be more transparent with those needs and potential conflicts before the campaign process. They sent an email about when and where I could promote my campaign, but never asked how many terms I will be on campus next year. Does choosing to utilize a study abroad opportunity when it’s most affordable mean I cannot facilitate Health and Wellness needs during my term(s) on campus? I don’t think so, nor do I think should the few people interested in running for student government should be turned away.

I’m sure the Chair will do a great job next year, but an ideal leader of the Health and Wellness Committee will do their best to let Knox students know their options. College is a stressful time for everyone, and we should be encouraged to take advantage of the Counseling and Disability services, as well as be provided with access to information about nutrition, sexual health and testing services in the area and how to apply for health insurance — things we all need to know in order to maintain our long term physical, spiritual and mental well-being.

Deja Jenkins, Copy Editor

Tags:  column discourse Health and Wellness Chair Student Senate

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