U Senate seeks new student members

The University Senate, which last year approved resolutions for fair trade coffee, health benefits for retirees and same-sex couples, and liberal education requirements, is looking for new members. The Senate, which, as a whole, is made up of students, staff and faculty from all the University campuses, discusses and approves matters that affect the University. The Student Senate and the Faculty Senate combine to make up the University Senate. Of the 50 spots on the Student Senate, 22 are in 16 different University departments, and applications are due Tuesday. âÄúItâÄôs a way to be involved with the whole University system,âÄù said CLA Senator Mark Lewandowski, who is also the Speaker of the Forum for the Minnesota Student Association . âÄúYou get a different perspective of the coordinate campuses and also learn what the faculty thinks about issues at the University,âÄù he said. Lewandowski said the Senate is similar to MSA because both deal with student concerns, but said the Senate is more focused on policy. âÄúSenate tries to analyze what policies we have right now,âÄù Lewandowski said. âÄúAnd then will either make changes or clarify to serve the needs of students.âÄù MSA, however, deals with student concerns more directly. One issue that the University Senate works with is end-of-semester course evaluations. The Student Senate is trying to put the evaluations on Onestop to allow access for students, Student Senate Vice Chairman Kris Schwebler said. The problem, he said, is that faculty members have the choice of whether to release those questions. The University Senate isnâÄôt able to pass all of its resolutions. There was a resolution asking the administration to consider a form of tuition benefits for dependents of University employees, University Senate Administrator Becky Hippert said. âÄúDue to the financial impact it would have on the University, it was not able to be offered,âÄù Hippert said. According to the University SenateâÄôs website, last year it was able to pass resolutions for retiree benefits, and to get University Dining Services to serve fair trade coffee. Members were not able to pass a resolution to offset income taxes for same-sex domestic partners, citing budget challenges. The University Senate also approves the academic calendar and liberal education requirements. Lewandowski said he likes seeing what other campuses are working on and getting a chance to talk about how to make the University better. âÄúThe time commitment isnâÄôt too great and youâÄôre able to take your concerns directly to the administration,âÄù Lewandowski said. Schwebler said the Senate affects almost everything at the University. âÄúI think college students are always willing to really want to fight for big change,âÄù he said. âÄúThis is your chance to actually start something.âÄù