Last week’s Student Senate meeting lasted just under two hours, yet the vast majority of the agenda was not actually addressed by the group. Even though only a small portion of their scheduled discussions were had, Student Senate was forced to end their session because six senators walked out, apparently upset that the session had extended past their self-prescribed one hour time slot. Senate President Sofia Tagkaloglou has repeatedly clarified to the entire Senate that their meetings will consistently go longer than one hour, yet senators continue to leave early.
The student body at Knox should demand that their student senators live up to the commitments they made to the community. Staying and being engaged for the entirety of their weekly meetings is the absolute minimum the student body should expect from their elected representatives.
Tagkalaglou said at the end of the meeting that the executive board will begin counting senators who leave early as unexcused absences. We applaud this change to the attendance policy, but believe that there is much more to do to ensure that Student Senate properly serves the student body. If the Senate is to continue using their current procedural rules, we believe that each senator, especially the executive board, must make a more concerted effort to actually understand these rules. At last week’s meeting, Coordinator for Student Engagement Andrew Salemi, who was there to speak to the senators with Director of Center for Intercultural Life Tiana Cervantes on a proposal for next year’s club leaders, interjected several times to inform the senators that they were improperly conducting their discussion. This seemed to take the entire Senate by surprise, as he had to explain what the proper next steps were for the conversation to continue. If the Senate is to stay committed to this form of procedure, there must be a closer understanding of how to do so by each senator, executive member and Vice President for Student Development Anne Ehrlich, the group’s advisor.
Additionally, the Senate currently awards senators who read the previous meeting’s minutes by giving them a pastry of some sort. While this is a nice gesture, the fact that it is an institutionalized expectation that the vast majority of senators will come to the meeting not having read the previous week’s minutes is absurd. It led to many senators openly asking why Cervantes and Salemi were there to speak with them, even though the Senate had voted the week before to request their presence at this meeting to explain their proposal further.
Finally, regardless of the changes that are made to Senate, we believe that each senator should be made to physically sign a form with all the rules and expectations before each term or year, instead of just saying that the senator accepts these responsibilities by accepting their position. We believe that these changes should be made by Tagkalaglou and Dining Services Chair Leonard Monterey, as they are the current and future Senate presidents.
The Knox student body should demand that these changes be made by emailing their senators their concerns or attending the genderal assembly at 7 p.m. on Thursdays.