An organized, political and social embodiment of our community should be the description of Student Senate. Rife with policy issues, personal problems and a seeming inability to send coherent emails, Senate is not coming across in the best light during this special election process. We recognize that having a President resign midway through the year was not an ideal situation. However, there should have been a deliberate discussion about how elections were to be run before the start of the term. There was ample time to do so between when former President Leonard Monterey stepped down and the rest of the campus was notified. Bylaws should have been checked before a president was inaccurately announced. Ballots should have been sent out as soon as the term started. Now that President Sam Cohen has been elected, there will need to be yet another set of elections. The campus will be caught in yet another storm of emails and ballots.
We urge Student Senate to take extra precautions for their next election cycle. Students should not be allowed to campaign earlier than stated in the bylaws. Students should be given a clear set of instructions on who qualifies for positions and when ballots open/close. We hope that once these elections are over, Senate will be able to come together in order to become a productive advocate for its constituents. President Cohen was right to point out that Senate can do much more for its students than be the ‘purse strings’ of our campus. There have been times where Senate has enacted change that has been important and crucial to our campus, such as steps towards energy efficiency, food security and political activism. We ask Student Senate to return to those values.
If Student Senate is a reflection of our community, we must also recognize its reciprocal relationship to us. If we feel Student Senate has been failing us, we as a campus have been failing it. A total of 347 people voted in this election. That is only around a quarter of our entire campus. Seventy-five percent of our campus was apathetic about who was going to lead our governing body. Student Senate is quietly behind so many of the organizations Knox students hold dear. Seventy-five percent should care. Ten percent should care. We should also be sending the best of us to represent us. When students can run with ironic ballot statements with tongue-in-cheek references to wanting to be on Senate purely for resume fluff, we all are implicated in that apathy. We ought not be surprised when our budget requests aren’t fulfilled after quorum can’t be reached. Senators resigned left and right after their friends dropped out. This lack of commitment to Senate is a result of a multitude of reasons. On one hand Senators too are apathetic, on the other, Senators are confused by the way the organization has been running. It was clear during this election cycle that even Student Senate could not keep track of its own rules and regulations. Others feel that Senate Exec does not properly communicate their expectations for the term or efficiently run General Assembly meetings.
If Student Senate is to turn over a new leaf, we as a campus must demand more and also give more. If we allow Student Senate to fall apart, we lose a valuable resource. We ought to dissent from passivity when it comes to our student government. We hope President Cohen will be able to lead a new era of transparency, efficiency and cohesiveness in Student Senate.