The Promethean

Siena College's Student Newspaper

Opinion

Student Senate: A Lesson in Franciscan Leadership

Posted on behalf of Zachary Coderre, Former Student Senate President

I have served on Student Senate as a Senator at-Large, Class President, and Student Senate President. In my time on Student Senate we faced challenges and overcame obstacles, but I am proud of the work Student Senate has done and the work that they continue to do. The purpose of the Student Senate is to represent the student body and further their interest. This is accomplished through the creation of student clubs, allocation of club budgets, and working with the various departments and administrators to address student concerns. Student Senate works hard to encourage students to participate and is always willing to listen to student feedback about how it can improve. 

The Student Senate embodies the Fransiscan principle of servant leadership. The purpose of being on Student Senate is not to exercise power over others, but to serve others. The Student Senate is not a law making body. Rather, the Student Senate gives students a role in organizing for ourselves and a voice with the college administration. Clubs are organized and funded by the Student Senate. Members of the Student Senate meet with the college president, vice-presidents, and department heads to express student concerns. They are always willing to listen and are frequently able to work with the Student Senate to address those concerns. Through collaboration Siena College can be the kind of school that we are proud to attend. 

For our part, I believe that Student Senate has done a lot of good on this campus over the last few years. A longtime Senate project has been the rapid fill water station initiative. To help reduce students’ dependence on bottled water, Student Senate has funded the installation of dozens of rapid fill stations throughout our campus. Due to their popularity, nine more stations were added this semester. Five have been added to Hennepin hall, three to Plassman hall, and one additional station was added in Siena Hall. Another successful Senate project was the acquisition of a new pool table in the SSU. This table is customized with the Siena “S” and has proven to be highly popular. 

Many of Student Senate’s projects are collaborations with other groups and organizations. Most people know that the recent Nigro Plaza renovation was made possible by the kindness of John Nigro and the Class of 2019. What many people don’t realize is that the green picnic tables in the plaza, as well as other picnic tables located on campus, were actually funded by the Student Senate. Another collaboration occured between the Student Senate and the Standish Library. After Student Senate expressed interest in student digital access to the New York Times, the Library was able to purchase access for the entire Siena Community.

These are just a few examples of the way that Student Senate has worked to improve the Siena experience. Student Senate is always looking for suggestions for new projects. One potential future Senate project is a partial renovation to the Snyder Hall lobby. This project is in the early stages, but it is my hope that next semester we will see additional tables for students who want to eat burritos from Bernie’s. Student Senate is happy to listen to any student concerns and bring it to the appropriate department. In the past, Student Senate has worked with Athletics, Facilities, the Office of Community Living, and many others. We have an ongoing dialogue with Siena Fresh and they always work with us to improve the dining experience. 

 Student Senate is constantly looking for new ways to gather feedback and attract student attention. They recently held the first of what I hope will become monthly Town Halls. These Town Halls are opportunities for members of the Siena Community to bring up issues, concerns, or ideas that they have. Because the Town Halls occur during free period when no classes are scheduled, all students and faculty members will be able to attend if the wish. During the last Town Hall over 30 students attended and it was an effective tool for eliciting student feedback.

Student Senate will always be, first and foremost, an organization committed to enhancing the Siena experience. Like all organizations, the Student Senate has faced challenges. In the current campus climate, it can be difficult to get student input. There is more that the Student Senate can do to promote itself and to engage with students. But the value of an institution does not lie in it being perfect, but rather in its ability to continue to grow and adapt. The Student Senate has served the Siena community for 81 years, and it has evolved in that time. For students looking for power or prestige, they should look somewhere else. For students who are looking to work on behalf of their fellow students to make Siena the best college it can be, I encourage you to get involved with Student Senate. 

Meetings are held every Tuesday at 4:15 in SSU 241 and all are welcome. If you have any questions or concerns you can always contact studentsenate@siena.edu

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