Student Senate is making changes to be more efficient and effective this year by having better student representation.
Senate will be asking what they call “the Big Seven” affinity groups to be involved this year by having a member of each of their groups serve as an advocate in Senate meetings.
The affinity groups are Advocates for LGBTQ, Black Student Union, Commuter Student Association, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Goshen Student Women's Association, International Student Club and Latino Student Union.
Corie Steinke, Student Senate advisor and associate director of community life, said that this is “giving a platform for people who represent an underrepresented population or represent a subset of campus that we are interested in hearing from.”
This is part of a Senate initiative to have more diversity within the group so that different groups of people on campus can be heard. It will allow for better communication between the student organizations and between Senate and the student body.
Representatives of affinity groups will have the same voting rights as at-large and cabinet members, although they will be barred from voting on the budget. Steinke said this is to ensure that members from one club are not placed in the position of voting on funding for other clubs.
Steinke is waiting for student organizations to meet before asking for representatives, so that they can elect leaders for the school year.
Senate is in the process of setting an agenda for the year, which includes a goal of improving communication with the student body. They are hoping for more student participation this year in order to hear student concerns.
Khampha Stempel, Senate president, stated that Senate is working on boosting their profile. He wants Senate members to be seen as people students can utilize on campus, stating they want to improve listening and communication with students.
Stempel said Senate will be “working with clubs and how they are going to manage issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.”
At Senate meetings, cabinet members discussed communication between the administration and students.
Rowan Miller, treasurer, stated that Senate wants to increase transparency by being able to “get a more visible face on what the administration is doing.”
Senate will send out and promote applications for cabinet and at-large positions earlier rather later to gain more interest and participation from students. This change was made last year in order to make sure the following year would start off with a full cabinet. It will also prevent them from soliciting for both cabinet and at-large positions at the same time.
Senate decided to have a maximum of three at-large positions instead of five or six, as recommended in the Senate Constitution. Senate allows two people to run together for one position on Senate: one person will be active in the fall semester and the other in the spring semester.
Student Senate’s cabinet is comprised of six students: Stempel as president, Jose Chiquito as vice president, Miller as treasurer, and Laura Miller and Samantha Shank as representatives for publicity and marketing. Laura Miller and Shank will divide responsibilities this year, with Miller serving in the fall and Shank in the spring. Katja Norton is the liaison for student organizations.
Some cabinet positions will hold new tasks while others will stay relatively the same. This year will introduce the vice president's new task of coordinating events that the community wants GC students’ participation. In this role, Chiquito will also be in charge of Open Spaces which will happen once or twice a month.
“The Open Space will really be for [discussing] topics that are important for students,” said Chiquito.
The first Open Space will be an open-ended meeting where students can suggest topics they want to discuss more in depth in the future. This meeting took place on Wednesday, Sept. 19.
Norton, the liaison for student organizations, will be offering a leadership development session once a month for student leaders. Dates are yet to be determined. Senate wants to witness any concerns that students may have, so Norton will be sitting in on other club meetings alongside other Senate members
Applications closed for at-large Student Senate members on Sept. 12; Mara Beck and Debbie Richards were elected.