When she was elected Student Senate president last term, senior Sofia Tagkaloglou saw the organization in severe need of revitalization.
“I really see this as a year when we’re trying to look introspectively and really trying to organize ourselves, so we can reach out and support the student body better,” she said.
While Knox students expressed respect for the group’s support of various clubs and projects like the solar panels on Wilson House, they generally felt that the organization has been too distant in recent years.
“For all the progress that they make … it doesn’t seem like they’re as in touch with the campus,” sophomore Ben Rutter said.
Tagkaloglou expressed strong awareness of the organization’s need to repair its image in student’s eyes.
“Trust is a really big thing that I’m sure that we’ve lost. … I really don’t blame students who don’t understand what Student Senate is or what we really do, what we can help them with,” she said.
That controversy has led to the organization’s efforts to be much more open and accessible to the student body this year. Since the start of the term, senators have been holding office hours on Thursdays before their general assembly meetings, attempting to ensure students have a clear opportunity to speak with them about issues at Knox.
However, these office hours will soon be moved into the Gizmo in the hopes of making it even easier for students to get in contact with their representatives.
“We’re really coming to the students and not expecting the students to come to us,” Tagkaloglou said.
The organization has also tried to improve how well-prepared its members are to aid other students. This started with a senate leadership retreat at the start of the term to acclimate the team to each other and to establish goals for the year.
The executive board then used the first assembly of the term to give all the senators a run-through of senate by-laws and strategies, hoping to give the new senators more guidance on how to serve than their predecessors were given in the past.
“If the student senators don’t know about resources and how they can actually change the campus, how can the students know that?” Tagkaloglou asked.
As to what benefit students can get from reaching out to Student Senate, Tagkaloglou described it as a platform for students to discuss any problems that they want to see addressed, especially when they’re uncomfortable with reaching out to administration.
“It can really be intimidating to go to like the Vice President … But you can reach out to your student senators and be like ‘Hey, can you fix this’ because it’s another student,” Tagkaloglou said.