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Student Senate Needs to Meet During Free Period

Student Senate is the primary student-run governing body of all student organizations on campus. Student Senate controls Budget allocation, acts as a liaison between students, faculty, and staff, in addition to many other important responsibilities. On Student Senate’s page on Saintsconnect, it says “We are your voice, your advocate; we are Siena College students who want to make Siena College a better place.” So, if the Student Senate is supposed to represent the majority of the student body, why don’t they meet at a time when all students can come to have their voices be heard?
Student Senate meets every Tuesday at 4:15 pm in the Sarazen Student Union. I honestly can’t think of any good reason to have Student Senate continue to meet at this time. On the other hand, I can think of three major reasons to change the meeting time to one of the three free periods during the week.
The first reason for this is to actually be the voice of students on this campus. It is impossible to be the voice of the student body unless you allow all students to have the opportunity to come to Senate meetings. Almost all activities during a free period are optional and it is very rare for anyone to have a consistent conflict with a Senate meeting if they met during one of our free periods. As the meeting time sits now, at 4:15 pm on a Tuesday, classes are being held and many students are unable to come to a meeting at all. In the now three semesters I have been on campus, I have only ever not had a conflict with Senate Meetings during one semester of that. This has prevented me from voicing any concerns that I have had to members of the Student Senate or from attending them to get a grasp of what the concerns of the community are.
The second reason that Student Senate needs to meet during a free period is to allow more students to get involved and stay involved. I know people on this campus, myself included, that would be very inclined to run for something on Student Senate and get involved with them in some way if they did not have conflicts with Senate and class and could be sure that they wouldn’t have to pick between taking classes that they need to take and Senate meetings. Students should not have to choose between getting involved in School Government and taking the classes that they want to take. Since they have to make that choice, Senate is losing out.
The final reason why Student Senate needs to meet during a free period is that clubs on this campus are hurting. Student participation is down for every organization that I am a part of. This is important for two separate but connected reasons. First, it would be beneficial to the Senate to ensure everyone that would get involved with Senate can. This would help the Senate’s membership numbers. Second, it would also allow more club leaders to talk to the Senate and start more of a dialogue on how to get students at this school more involved on campus. Our Student Senate already does great work on this campus but as a club leader, I am afraid for the future of clubs, organizations, and student involvement on this campus. Some people want to start new clubs but don’t know how because they don’t know who to ask, moving Senate meetings would allow these students the opportunity to start their way.
Moving Student Senate to Free Period has so many benefits for our whole campus community, so why aren’t we doing it?