The Drake Student Senate begins its 36th session with the intent to continue decolonizing the classroom and focusing on student feedback.
Vice President Ruwayda Egal said that the senate plans to build on actions taken by the 35th session, which included providing Medical College Admission Test and Law School Admission Test prep for students and passing the endowment scholarship for Sodexo employees and their dependents. LSAT prep materials can be found on the Drake Law School website, and Drake’s Uloop contains both LSAT and MCAT prep materials.
“What me and Connor and the rest of the Exec is really trying to do this year is grow off of the 35th Session,” Egal said. “It’s mostly just going off of what they pass and really getting the projects that they wanted to do really take a step forward.”
Student Senate also hopes to continue efforts to decolonize the classroom. While this phrase can mean different things to different people, it starts with recognizing historical inequities in the classroom, according to Student Body President Connor Oetzmann.
“I believe that one of the most significant efforts toward decolonizing the classroom is ensuring that the work of scholars of marginalized communities, specifically scholars of color, is included in the syllabi and curriculum,” Oetzmann said. “As an institution we have a responsibility to ensure that our curriculum positively reflects the students who attend.”
Along with the initiatives continued from last year, the senate hopes to take steps to make sure all students feel heard, according to Co-President of the Unity Roundtable Mylo Bissell. Recent incidents, such as the You. Me. We. diversity, equity and inclusion presentation during Welcome Week, have prompted the senate to take more decisive action, multiple senators said.
“I wish there was some sort of perfect preventive measure that we could take to ensure that these things don’t happen, but there just isn’t,” Bissell said. “This year, there might be a partnership that I’m excited to do between the Senate and the Roundtable.”
Bissell said that Unity Roundtable is trying to do more educational programming, and they believe the Senate can assist them in this goal.
Student Senate also hopes to promote more student engagement through a suggestion link where any student can submit any concerns or propose plans. Having the link to the Student Senate Suggestions in their Instagram bio allows the student body to approach the senate at any time and any place.
“I think there is really no point in having to play president or not fully engaging with the student body,” Oetzmann said. “[I will be] representing them around the table for any meeting that I have with administrators, faculty and staff. Making sure that their interests and their ideas are at the forefront is my number one priority.”
The application to run for the senate’s first-year senator position can be found on their Facebook page. For the past few years, the first-year senator position has brought a valuable perspective to senate discussions.
“We’ve had a lot of interest, probably more than I’ve [ever] seen,” Oetzmann said. “Hopefully, we’ll have a group of students that really pushes everyone to foster good ideas and initiatives that they want to focus on.”
Mack Swenson contributed to reporting