Discourse / Editorials / October 7, 2015

Thoughts from the Embers: Hold Senate accountable this year

There are many aspects of the Knox experience that feel cyclical — midterms come and go, and Homecoming is almost upon us. Week one turns into week eight, which turns into Winter Term, which turns into Flunk Day.

Elections have come and gone, and Student Senate has geared up for a new year, this time with a new president and new senators.

Just like TKS, Senate is bound by institutional values and principles. But like any club that has a history and long-standing tradition at Knox, new year in Senate means new changes.

This year’s group of senators is a good one — there are plenty of returning senators who’ve shown vested interested in Senate. They’re committed. But there was also a lot of turnover last year Ñ almost all senior senators are new. New senators bode well for a group like Student Senate, or any major group on campus: with new faces comes new life and new ideas.

In last week’s issue of TKS, junior and Student Senate Secretary Shannon Caveny urged Knox students to get involved in Senate and to take interest in issues on campus. She said that a lot of executive positions were uncontested and many were filled by incumbents.

For a campus that prides itself on its activism and loud student voice, this is surprising.

It’d be more likely that students would be competing for executive positions and campaigning fiercely for a position in Senate.

This year, campaigns around campus seemed especially meager, and voting was not as popularized as it usually is.

This is both the fault of the student body and of Senate.

If elections were better advertised and students were more encouraged to vote, morale may be higher. Students may want to compete for Senate seats. Too few students know how to run for a seat or that they’re even allowed and encouraged to attend meetings.

And just because upperclassmen know who their senators are and where meetings are held doesn’t mean that freshmen do. These are students to whom we’re passing the Knox College baton of activism and student interest, and they should be kept in the loop. This isn’t unique to Senate — even deans and presidents of colleges struggle to maintain effective communication with their community.

Senate should be more active on social media and publicize their minutes more. They should also be present at open forums and events, acting as positive role models for the community. We would expect, too, that senators stay abreast of Knox issues and conflicts by attending these forums so they can better serve the community. Last year, few senators were present at the diversity training sessions that were mandatory for all clubs. Senate shouldn’t be allowed to slash funds from clubs who didn’t attend trainings if senators don’t attend the mandated training themselves.

Senators are stewards of the college who make important decisions that directly affect the student body.

Their position is as symbolic as it is quite literal — senators work with a fund that comes directly out of student tuition. They vote on where and how they use this money.

These are pretty serious decisions, and the student body should be curious about where their money goes and how Senate votes on it. Being a senator is a huge responsibility, and it’s a position that comes with respect.

Knox students should treat their senators with that due respect by showing interest and attending meetings, but senators themselves should give mutual respect to the students they serve.


Casey Mendoza
Casey Mendoza is a senior majoring in political science and double minoring in philosophy and Chinese. This is her fourth year working at The Knox Student, previously as a photographer and photo editor. Casey is the recipient of two awards from the Illinois College Press Association for photo essays. During the summer of 2014, Casey also worked as a photography intern for the Galesburg Register-Mail, covering local community events and working alongside award-winning reporters and photojournalists. During the winter and spring of 2015, Casey studied journalism and new media in Washington DC, learning more about the world's political arena, networking and gaining a greater understanding of the field. There, she worked as a Production Assistant at a documentary film company, The Biscuit Factory. During the summer of 2015, Casey will help produce a documentary on airline reservation technology for the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC).

Tags:  accountability activism embers meetings open meetings senate

Bookmark and Share

Previous Post
Editor's notebook: Openings for columnists and layout editors in TKS
Next Post
News briefs: Senate seeking new diversity chair

You might also like


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.