Student Senate preps for the year

JP Leider

It is one of the largest official student voices to the University of Minnesota. It consults with University President Bob Bruininks and other administration about policies that affect students on all campuses.

It is the Student Senate.

The plan for today’s Student Senate meeting, the first of the year, is for it to spend a substantial amount of time introducing new senators and officers and planning for the upcoming year, said Student Senate chairman Josh Breyfogle.

Where each University of Minnesota campus has its respective student governments or student associations, the Student Senate exists for a different reason, Breyfogle said.

“We want to work on issues that affect all the schools and not just individual campuses,” he said. “We want to represent the entire system.”

Sixty members from the four campuses comprise the Student Senate. These members also have voting rights in the larger University Senate, which discusses and recommends policy decisions that affect the University.

Currently, 16 Student Senate seats are open from colleges on the Twin Cities campus.

While the Student Senate represents all University students and their respective colleges and campuses, it hasn’t always been very visible in the past, said Student Senate Vice Chairman Rick Orr.

In addition to increased visibility, Orr said, he sees the Student Senate striving to become a “unifying force” this year at both the individual college and Universitywide level.

“In some ways (the Student Senate) has been isolated to its own issues and hasn’t done its best to support campus governments as it should,” he said.

One of the issues the Student Senate plans to address dealing with student governments and associations is student involvement in the University realignment process.

“We want to make sure we keep students involved in every step,” Breyfogle said. “On some coordinate campuses, there’s no official student involvement, which is a mandate of the process.”

Locally, members from both the Minnesota Student Association and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly have expressed interest in getting more students involved with University realignment.

In addition to discussing the realignment in the near future, Breyfogle said the Student Senate likely will also address creating or increasing housing for students who are married or who have children.

Breyfogle said the Twin Cities campus is the only University system school with this type of housing, and it may be in short supply.

Last spring, the University Senate passed a new set of questions for teacher evaluations.

Now some students and student governments are pushing for student access to teacher evaluations.

Breyfogle said that while union contracts in Duluth and Crookston prohibit access to teacher evaluations, that’s not the case for the Twin Cities or Morris campuses.