By, WILL BREDENSTEINER
Student senate is an organization that has some power to influence Drake’s campus, this is an opportunity that students may be unaware of or confused about what exactly senate is. Student senate controls which groups may be registered on campus, where funds may be allocated to, and, overall, expresses the interests of the student body. Meetings are open to Drake campus, and are every Thursday at 9 p.m. in Cowles Library in The Fishbowl, or Room 201.
Student senate formed out of what was Drake University Senate in the 80s. The original senate was comprised of administrators, faculty and students. According to an article from the Des Moines Register, “most of the 19 student senators oppose the proposal, saying written recommendations from an all-student senate would be easier for administrators to ignore.” This was the original proposal to form the senate.
The proposed split was passed by a vote of 36 to 25 and approved by the Board of Trustees, and then faculty senate and student senate were formed, each comprised of 21 members and no administrators serving in a voting capacity. Today, the academic affairs senator, currently Runal Patel, serves as an ambassador between student senate and faculty senate.
Student senate is broken down into several parts. The head of the organization is the student body president, currently Jose-Garcia Fuerte. The president leads meetings and serves as a representative to the public. Student body president is one of four members of the executive council. There are also two vice presidents, vice president of student life (VPSL), currently Bakari Caldwell, and vice president of student activities (VPSA), currently Giada Morresi. There is a student body treasurer, currently Nicholas Johnson. VPSL’s duty is to organize all committees of the student senate and to make sure the Senators are doing their jobs. VPSA’s duty is to chair the student activities board (SAB) which is responsible for promoting and putting on student events, responsible for the smooth running of SAB, and shall assist with affairs relating to the student body. The treasurer chairs the student fees allocation committee, which is responsible for funds allocation to registered groups, and oversees the annual student budget.
The largest part of the student senate is the senator themselves, divided into four sub-groups; the academic senators, the at-large senators, the equity and inclusion senators and the first-year senator. The academic senators represent their respective colleges, like the College of Business and Public Administration or the College of Arts and Sciences. The at-large senators represent a special aspect of Drake University that warrants representation, like health and safety or campus advancement. Equity and inclusion senators, currently Rebecca Perl and Maegan Valencia, both serve as co-presidents of Unity Roundtable. They work with the multicultural organizations on campus and promote inclusive policies. The first-year senator, currently Sarah Hutchison, is a unique position, as the session starts before the end of an academic so any senior members do not have to continue their membership after they have graduated. This early start leaves out incoming first-years from representation, so the first-year senator position was created to solve this issue.
There are also members of the senate who are non-voting, and those are ex-officios and committee members. Ex-officios serve to support the senate in certain capacities like election or website management, parliamentary procedure, or record keeping. Only the parliamentarian, who is in charge of helping maintain meeting procedure, is required to attend meetings regularly. Committee members serve as advisors to their respective senators and will occasionally proxy in meetings. According to the student senate page on the Drake website, “Involvement in the senate not only allows you to represent your fellow students, but also provides hands-on leadership experience and the chance to have an impact on student life at Drake.” There are always opportunities to get involved in senate. Currently there are two open ex-officio positions available, the graphic designer and webmaster. One may contact Bakari Caldwell if interested.