After an election process that included campaign rule confusions, voided ballots and a run-off election, David Karaz was inaugurated as Drake University’s first-ever First-Year Senator at this week’s meeting.
“It was a weird feeling when I got to say ‘present’ when they said ‘Sen. Karaz,’” he said, smiling. “That was really cool.”
Karaz is the first student to hold the position, created by Senate last year as a way to give more of a voice to the university’s entering first-year class.
“They simply, in the past, were not around when voting took place and thus were not able to pick their representation,” Vice President of Student Life Byron Spears said. “By doing this we gave a fourth of the campus a chance to do something that they had never before had the opportunity to do.”
Sen. Laura Menendez said she thinks the addition of a first-year senator is a great idea.
“First-years don’t really know what Senate does, or the different committees or the different things that we can do through Senate,” she said. “If the information is reaching first-year students through a classmate their age, I think it’ll be a lot more beneficial.”
She admitted to being a little worried at first that a first-year student might be intimidated sitting around the table with all upperclassmen, and not speak up.
But Karaz asked questions when he needed to.
“I was impressed that he was so well spoken,” Menendez said.
For Karaz, the meetings may take some getting used to, though.
“I had a lot of questions for the people around me,” he said. But overall, he said he thought his first Thursday meeting as an official senator went pretty smoothly.
He told his fellow senators that he was excited to serve in what he called, “a guinea pig position,” and asked for their help in shaping the role.
“I think it’ll be in their interest to have a new person around the table, just to challenge the norms,” Karaz said. “I do have a lot of ideas, and I think I’m going to be a positive attribute to Student Senate.”
One of his major responsibilities includes serving as chair of the First-Year Interest Committee. Spears has been leading the group so far this semester, but Karaz, formerly a committee member, took over at its meeting Wednesday night.
“Essentially, he guides the committee in their discussions and sets the agenda, similar to other senators,” Spears said. “I have tremendous confidence in David’s ability to lead and look forward to seeing those abilities in action.”
Karaz said he’s looking forward to being involved the First-Year Interest Committee’s work.
“I think we have a lot of planning we need to do and everything, but it’s going to be really cool to run my own committee, to give a report to the Senate,” he said. “I’m looking forward to every Thursday night now.”
Photo: Ann Schnoebelen