The University of Minnesota Student Senate needs to fill 22 open seats this semester.
Each college is allocated a number of student senators and they are elected in the spring. Student Senate adviser Becky Hippert said since there are currently more seats than elected senators, interested students will go through a selection process. There are 59 positions in Student Senate.
With 15 open seats on the Twin Cities campus, a sub-committee will meet to discuss applicants. They will make a list of senators who have to be approved by the Student Senate at their Sept. 30 meeting, Hippert said. Coordinate campuses are responsible for filling the remaining seven seats.
Student Senate Chairman Aaron Carlson said the Senate has received more than 175 applications.
When the same situation arose last fall, 22 senators were appointed. Carlson said the need to fill Senate seats comes from not having enough students run for Senate, scheduling conflicts and elected senators underestimating the time commitment.
“We had a very high turnout in spring elections last year,” he said. “When people make other commitments over the summer they prioritize, and, unfortunately, Senate doesn’t come up as one of the higher [priorities].”
The application period will close Friday and the committee will meet Monday to discuss candidates, Carlson said. Hippert said the selected senators will be invited to attend the first Student and University Senate meeting Sept. 30.
Franny Catibog, a pre-dentistry junior, said she got involved with Student Senate her sophomore year because she wanted to continue her involvement with the Minnesota Student Association. Student Senators participate in college board and MSA meetings.
Catibog said she enjoyed the close relationship Student Senate had with high-ranking University officials, but that the time commitment was difficult to manage.
Catibog was one of six senators who forfeited membership last year for lack of attendance. An additional eight senators resigned.
Students interested in becoming senators have to answer a few questions:
Do you have any other commitments?
Why have you chosen to apply?
Do you have any particular issues you would like to address?
“The application was pretty easy,” Catibog said.
Both Carlson and Hippert stressed the importance of the final question.
Carlson said he would give more weight in the selection process to students who point out real issues.
Students concerned about submitting a resume or adding information to their application should contact Hippert.
“Students e-mail me and ask if they can submit a resume [and] I tell them, ‘no,’” she said. “Everything we need to know comes off that application.”
While interest may be high now, last year Student Senate struggled with attendance.
The senators were supposed to vote on an expansion of the legitimate absences policy during their April 1 meeting last year. The vote was pushed to May because they did not have enough members present to vote.
Last May, during the final meeting of the year, 31 student senators voted to expand the legitimate absence policy to include illness of minor dependents and student senators who are attending senate meetings.
Carlson said the policy has moved to the University Senate, a larger governing body that includes faculty and staff, and its members will review it during their Sept. 30 meeting.