Columns / Discourse / Student Senate / May 21, 2009

The Senate Perspective: The end of the 98th Student Senate

The end of the year is drawing to a rapid close and Thursday, May 21, 2009 marks the final meeting of the 98th Knox College Student Senate. It has been a very challenging, educational, and fascinating year—I mean those descriptors in both a positive and negative way. My detractors and those who decry the actions of the Student Senate are entitled to feel the way they do, but I would like to take this opportunity to reflect for a moment on all that Senate has accomplished over the course the past academic year.

In the Senate’s first term, a resolution extending library hours during the week of finals was passed and implemented with the assistance of Dean Larry Breitborde and the Director of the Library, Jeff Douglas. We endorsed the plan to move to a fully wireless network in the fall of 2009. I created the Ad Hoc Prairie Plot Committee chaired by Senator Tim Lovett; the committee has conducted exhaustive research on the matter and will, in all likelihood, submit their Green Fee proposal early next fall.

Moving into the winter term, under the tutelage of Rachel Deffenbaugh, the Sustainability Committee along with the Senate body allocated, to the I-Club, its first Green Fee proposal since its implementation. The I-Club used the Green Free funds to print the popular I-Fair magazine on recycled paper using soy ink. Another allocation that term was to a group of students for a Bike Share program at Knox. With a vote of unanimous consent, senate approved the local colony ATP to move forward on their long road to national affiliation. The faculty also approved the colony and they have begun their search for a national sorority. Senate passed a resolution submitted by Chairman Michael Leon and the Residential Quality of Life Committee encouraging the college administration to move toward a Gender Neutral Housing Policy. The policy was officially adopted early spring term and is available for students living on campus during the 2009-2010 academic year. We passed a resolution concerning the consolidation of guest meals and regular meals, Dining Services Chairman Zack Lazar and I have met with Helmut and the feasibility of this resolution is uncertain. It is an issue that Zack, as well as the incoming Dining Services Chairman, will continue discussing with Helmut over the summer.

Moving into our final and undoubtedly most vibrant and fiery term, we came under fire for some tough decisions that had to be made. Quite simply, put between a rock and a hard place, I think the outcome was fair and decent. At our final meeting we will be amending the student senate constitution so the senate can avoid finding themselves in a similar set of circumstances. About half way through the term we approved the local colony, Gentlemen of Quality, to move forward to the faculty and ultimately, to affiliate with a national multi-cultural fraternity. We allocated a portion of the Green Fee to TKS for newspaper racks; with these, members of the TKS staff will not need to put a newspaper in each student’s mailbox thus eliminating a great deal of waste and mess found in the mailroom. In the Student Life Committee as well as to the Dean of Housing, Craig Southern, Vice President Bryan Lund and I lobbied to make Wallace Lounge a reservable meeting place for clubs and social space for students until it undergoes a full renovation.

I firmly believe senate has been effective in its implementation of ideas and that is owed in large part to the cooperation and support of the administration and in even larger part to the students who stand behind these ideas.

Student Senate is many things—important, fun, infuriating, challenging, and rewarding are a few words that come to mind, but student senate is by no means a particularly ‘popular’ organization to be a part of. So I would like to commend all of the students who are currently, have been, or will be in the future, a member of the Student Senate. I make no pretense of being unerring and there are certainly things I could/should/would have done differently but I leave this office knowing that I have carried out the duties of Student Senate President with integrity and tenacity. Quoth President Richard M. Nixon, “I play by the rules of politics as I found them.”

I have no doubt that the 99th Student Senate will be in the hands of exceptional leadership. As for this four-year member of Student Senate and outgoing president, well, I’m headed to Washington to work on Capitol Hill for the United States Congress. Surprise, surprise.

Elaine Wilson

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