Senators call on peers for help restructuring Student Senate

Plano sophomore and head of the Senate Diversity and Inclusion Committee (DEI) Bethel Tesfai shares her passion for restructuring the Senate. Photo courtesy of Bethel Tesfai

By Sophia Tejeda | Staff Writer

Members of Student Government remain hard at work restructuring the Student Senate to be more representative of the entire student body.

Currently, the Senate contains a total of 52 senators, with 13 from each class; however, a majority of these senators are political science or business majors, leaving little room for the voices of other academic colleges.

The proposed restructure bill plans to divide the 52 senators into 16 senators for academic colleges; five senators for specific representation of the student body, such as international, ROTC or transfer students; and 18 senators evenly divided among upper-level students, with the 13 remaining seats for freshmen.

Plano sophomore and head of the Senate Diversity and Inclusion Committee (DEI) Bethel Tesfai noted that the current structure lacks “representation from other colleges … and that changing the structure of the Senate would invite other representation into the Senate.”

The DEI Committee — which works on the calendar for diversity events and legislation regarding diversity, equity and inclusion — spearheaded the restructure proposal.

After the initial writing of a bill, it must pass through the committees it addresses; for this bill specifically, that is both the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Operations and Procedures Committee. The bill passed unanimously in the committees and was introduced to the Senate at the first reading. The following week, senators debated the bill at the second reading. As a constitutional amendment change, the bill needed a three-fourths vote to pass; however, the bill only passed by a two-thirds vote.

Advocates for restructuring did not give up; Article Seven, Section Two of the Student Body Constitution contains a clause that allows the student body to propose legislation, which may pass if it receives the signatures of 10% of the student population. The campaign needs all of its signatures by Tuesday in order to conduct a vote on Wednesday.

Tesfai stressed the importance of the timeline, as bylaws require “30 days before the election [for a vote to take place for the bill] to be applied [to the next elected] legislative session” and to not “conflict with the [Senate] interest meeting.”

The link to sign the petition and more information can be found on the petition’s Instagram page, @restructurebaylorsenate.

Tesfai said she hopes once the petition passes, the Student Senate “can address student concerns from all over campus,” ranging from campus improvements to academia, and “allow senators working on all different types of legislation to better campus and the [Baylor] experience.”

Spring Branch freshman and Student Government press secretary Joely English facilitates communications from the executive branch of Student Government and informs the student body and other members of Student Government about the restructuring plan.

English said the current structure leads people to “feel underrepresented by majors, [especially] education, music or social work departments.” She said she believes the bill will “help areas that might not be typical Student Government positions” and “be overall beneficial to the university.”

Tesfai said she also hopes the petition will encourage more of the student body to become involved with Student Government and “expand Student Government’s outreach to more parts of campus.”

Both Tesfai and English said they encourage students to sign the petition and wish to remind students that the petition needs support not only with signatures but also in helping the vote pass on Wednesday.