Knox’s Student Senate has found ways to keep functioning during this virtual term.
While Senate has mostly not held live meetings for practical purposes, they have continued “Virtual General Assembly” by sending out an agenda where members can comment on ongoing business and follow links to vote. Senate also provides a form for students to make public comments.
While Senate President Cayne Randle, senior, said that adjusting to the new form of communication and keeping all senators in the loop had been a challenge, she was overall happy with how the transition has worked out.
“I think it’s actually been more effective than I even anticipated. It’s definitely harder to get more uniform attendance or participation, but it’s not been bad. I’m impressed with people overall with it,” said Randle.
Senate Secretary Kathryn Allee, sophomore, noted that Senate has tried to avoid overcrowding students’ emails during this time — but has looked to keep the student body informed through Senate’s website and social media updates. This is in addition to sending out Virtual Senate minutes weekly.
Normally, funding campus activities would make up a significant amount of Senate’s activity. With no activity fee being paid by students this term this is no longer possible, though funding continues to be provided for campus organizations that can keep operating like publications.
With a lack of financial resources to use to support the student body, Randle described Senate as focusing more on helping students stay informed during this time — working with Senate’s advisor Anne Ehrlich, Vice President for Student Development, to respond to concerns that are heard from the student body.
Senate Treasurer Andrew Liput has overseen adjustments to the process for funding student organizations in light of the disruption caused by the school going online.
Clubs that received a budget last fall term will receive the same budget for next fall, with the option to request a change in their budgeted amount — though Liput stated no club has taken that option. Clubs that did not receive a budget last fall can request one, which will be reviewed for approval by the finance committee.
“Obviously there’s a financial uncertainty aspect to it. We’re still uncertain as to how much our budget will change going into next year, and that’s the big thing that’s still up in the air,” Liput said.
The budgets for fall term will be treated as lump sums, with Senate not planning to hold clubs to the specifics of what is outlined within their budgets. The budgeting process for the winter and spring term is planned to take place during the fall, if Knox College is back on campus.
Senate is also preparing for the transition between executive teams from this academic year to the next, holding training sessions and having outgoing exec members speak with their successors, as Randle has with incoming President Bamise Afolabi, junior.
“The nice thing is while we have new faces, we also have a lot of old faces which will be really helpful for next year,” Randle said.
However, Senate will delay the election of upperclassmen senators for next school year, holding elections for the positions in the fall at the same time as freshmen senators are selected.
Allee explained that Senate wished to see how things will look in the fall, and did not want for students to potentially lose out on the chance to serve on Senate because of being distracted during this virtual spring term.