By Dana Reese
While the large congress-room on the top floor of the Union is frequently full of the senators, many students are unaware of the roles of student senate. From surveying students to reviewing organizations’ budgets, student senate helps to keep the system of student organization and representation strong at East Stroudsburg University.
Rich Hennessy, standing president of student senate, explained the organizations purpose. “It is the governing body of students on this campus. From daily decisions, to speaking with the borough, the group’s mission is to give the students of ESU accurate representation.”
“We try to represent the students to the best of our ability. We’re not so naïve to think we can group all opinions together, but the only way to accurately represent the students is to look at every opinion expressed.”
The senate gets a lot of their information by word of mouth. While they hope to maintain a “professional yet inviting atmosphere,”
So what are they doing on campus? A list given off the top of Hennessy’s head included Weiner Day, Campus Safety Walk, Club Fair, Candy for Concerns, Teddy Bear Drive and most prominently, ESU Summit.
A major focus of the senate this year has been dealing with the safety issues. Hosting their annual Campus Safety Walk, speaking to other organization leaders through ESU Summit and conveying student thoughts to administration were major parts of the organizations safety agenda.
“We helped to get two part-time officers and one full time officer hired for the Campus Police.” Hennessy talked about efforts to get a campus shuttle to run later at night and on weekends. “The organization is pursuing it. We’re actively involved with safety issues.”
Senate has also been reaching out to students this year, trying to get opinions on the larger class sizes. They, as well, put out information and got a vote going for the new Keystone Room. While keeping students connected with faculty, the senate has commonly reached out for student ideas.
Hennessy discussed his personal goals. His main focus is opening “up lines of communication” between students and faculty and “making sure decisions aren’t made without student input.”
Stepping up to help students and police enforcement understand one another, even having Chief Olsen speak at one of the ESU Summit meetings about concerns and safety, the group helped to build a channel of communication that had before been lacking. “I want us to be a central hub of communication.”
Another pursuit that students are aware of is the removal of pin numbers from registration.
“It’s been misconstrued that we are trying to get rid of advisors. That is not the case. We want to make the system simpler.” Hennessy also highlighted attempts the senate has made to improve the Banner System.
This spring, senate hopes to host the “Board of Student Government Presidents Leadership Conference.” It would include different workshops for leadership and similar duties that students from different colleges in the PASSHE.
“The moral of the student senate is we’re trying to get involved to get students involved.”
“The senate has achieved a lot in the past few years,” President Hennessy stated. “This is the second year we have a completely full senate with 45 senators…we’ve held true, competitive elections.”
Giving large amounts of credit to the rehabilitation efforts of the previous student senate president, Emily Ward, Hennessy was very excited about the present and future of the senate. “We’ve made huge strives to transition the group towards a solid government. We’re not just another organization on campus, but we’re a governing body.”
“We mean business,” Hennessy stated. “The common thread is all about communication.”
This coming spring, student senate will be reviewing club budgets and hosting another semester of community events. To get involved in student senate, visit the office on the top floor of the union, in the right back corner next to the Greek Affairs office.
To run for a senatorial election, a participant can pick up a petition form in the beginning of the spring semester. The form must be signed by twenty currently enrolled students of ESU, and a statement of purpose must be attached. Tentative elections are February seventh and eighth. The number of vacancies is limited and dependant on the number of returning student senators next semester.