Student Senate Works to Increase Involvement

Mira Bohannan Kumar and Zoë Butler

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Following last year’s controversial Student Senate elections, President Teagan Roeder ‘18 and Vice President Patrick McMillan ‘18 have begun work to change the way the student body interacts with the Senate.

“We’re trying to improve communication,” Roeder said. “Student Senate needs to be more of an advocate for the student body, and a key part of being an advocate is knowing what the constituents want.”

Both Roeder and McMillan campaigned on increasing student involvement in and knowledge about the Senate. “A lot of kids didn’t know about Student Senate,” McMillan said of years prior. “They may know that it was there but they didn’t know what they could do, like that it funded a lot of clubs or was responsible for different events.”

Esti Brady ‘20 was one of these students. She was unable to attend Senate meetings over the 2016-17 school year because of a scheduling conflict. “I think there are a ton of students who have the same problem,” Brady said on the lack of involvement in the organization, “or even students who just don’t know that they can come even if they don’t have a scheduling problem.” Brady is now attending meetings regularly, and believes  that to increase student involvement the Senate should “make it more public so that people can come even if they don’t want to be a permanent part of Student Senate.”

Student Senate has listened to what the student body has to say, and is now making changes to help more people have a voice, even those without the ability to attend meetings.

“We are exploring several options,” Roeder said on Senate initiatives to change representation. “We’re still learning how Canvas and the recent one-to-one Chromebooks are working out. Our eventual hope is potentially having some sort of Google Form sent out to say, ‘Hey, what kind of Homecoming theme would you want?’ or, ‘Hey, what kind of big project would you want for this trimester?’”

At the end of the 2016-17 school year, Student Senate polled the student body to gauge reactions to a potential gender neutral bathroom. McMillan said. “I think we can do that even more now that everyone has their own Chromebooks.”

McMillan also mentioned an in-person mode of communication, conceived by Roeder, to help the student body become more involved. “One of his big things he was talking about during the campaign and something that we’d like to incorporate into this year was the addition of a ‘listening post’ [with] either me or Teagan or a class representative,” he said. The ‘listening post’ would consist of a meeting where students of any grade would be free to share concerns and ideas.

Both Roeder and McMillan are optimistic about these initiatives. “I know that there’s a large majority of people that want to know what’s going on,” McMillan said. “By making it easier for these people to use their Chromebooks for a poll, or come during the day during Advisory, a lot of those issues can be solved.”