Each Senator is allowed to write a 500-word opinion within a week of any bill being voted on by the full senate body. The six Senators listed below chose to combine efforts for their dissenting opinion on the failure of Senate Enactment (SE) 67-10. This bill aimed to restructure Student Senate into a more representative body by creating seats reserved for each academic and college program, valuable student populations such as First In Line or Multicultural Affairs Coalitions, as well as five at-large seats per class.
As we stand in solidarity with those whose voices are not welcomed at the table of opportunity, we desire to stress our frustration with the outcome of the vote of SE 67-10, the principal bill to restructure Student Senate into a more diverse body.
We do not believe that the discussion and the result of the debate accurately reflect the passions and ambitions of this year’s Student Senate. Through the debate’s evolution, there developed a pattern of concern addressing the college and program seats. The two components of this plan work simultaneously and cannot be disassociated from each other.
We hold two objections to these detrimental opinions.
First, eliminating the college and program seats inherently discredits diversity of experience and intellectual training. It communicates to students their only value of difference is considered in their ethnic background. Furthermore, it fosters the belief that the academic college entrusted with each student’s education cannot do a sufficient job in diversifying an individual’s ability to contribute to the quality of conversation Student Senate seeks to cultivate each Thursday evening.
Secondly, we are striving to correct and limit the daunting barriers of contested popularity that accompanies running for at-large seats. Creating specified spots for students conveys Student Senate, which was created to serve them, not only values their voice but is searching for an individual of their exact caliber to provide insight which would otherwise be mute under the confines of the at-large system.
We have seen through numerous legislative examples the entire student body cannot be properly advocated for if their experience is not present. This is fundamentally antithetical to the mission of Student Senate as we “represent the student body… and seek to enrich the quality of student life.”
While we understand the concerns of voting through identifying personal groups, which leaves room for voter dishonesty, we cannot acquiesce to these qualms. Every governmental system is flawed, but our overarching goal is to consider the people. Consider the students whose voices feel stifled, whose perspectives are not the majority, whose lack of privilege does not guarantee success based on work ethic; it is unacceptable to deem our current system as adequate.
Ultimately, we aim for the day when we can look to our peers sitting to our left and our right in Student Senate meetings and we see not only an accurate representation of our student body, but also a reflection of the kingdom of God.
Jackson McNeece, Operations and Procedures Committee Chair
Gracie Kelliher, Sophomore Senator
Carleigh Allan, Campus Improvements and Affairs Committee Chair
Piper Latham, Sophomore Senator & Legislative Secretary
Katy Crawford, Sophomore Senator
Baylor Payne, Junior Senator