Of the 12 students who applied for the two first-year senator positions on Student Government Association, the 10 applicants not chosen will still have the chance to get involved in the organization through a new committee focused on increasing outside participation.
The First-Year Student Advisory Committee, new to SGA this year, was started to help initiates stay involved and become familiar with SGA, which will make for an easier transition if they are elected as senators in the future, Vice-President Dustin Santjer said. Two students who were invited to join the committee weren’t interested in participating.
“We have outlined the foundation of the group in the sense that the committee will serve as a sounding board for SGA to bounce ideas off of, and yet be able to give the committee the freedom to produce their own ideas, concepts and projects,” said SGA President Tyler Tordsen.
Because the committee hasn’t had a meeting yet, much of what the committee will do is still up in the air, which Santjer and Senator Lyndsay Claussen — the committee’s co-chairs — are OK with for now.
“We’re leaving the direction up to them so they’re actually passionate about what they’re working on,” Santjer said.
Santjer rejected The Volante’s attempts to receive comments from students on the committee, which he defended by saying the committee has not had any meetings yet.
SGA started a first-year committee a few years ago, but wasn’t successful. Tordsen said it didn’t take off because people without experience were chairing the committee.
“We are bringing it back and switching it up a little bit,” Tordsen said.
The committee will meet every two weeks. Santjer said each member will get his or her turn to speak about what the committee is doing at SGA meetings. The members of the committee will help with SGA projects, but Santejer said they are also expected to pursue what interests them.
“We want their ideas to be their own,” he said.
The 12 students who applied for the first-year senator positions had to submit an application, resume, their class schedule. They had to attend an interview and a mock SGA meeting that included Tordsen, Santjer and the internal review committee.
Junior Emily VanLaecken, chair of SGA’s internal review committee, said the committee was looking for applicants with new ideas and who could speak up in a meeting setting.
“It was a really good process,” VanLaecken said. “The first-year opinion is very important because they kind of have that new outlook on campus, and they’re all seeing it for the first time so they kind of have a fresh perspective.”
First-years Catie Dougherty and Jordan Hanson were sworn in as the first-year senators Sept. 23.
Dougherty said the application process was nerve-wracking, but a good indicator of commitment.
“I think it shows who’s going to make an effort,” Dougherty said. “It makes you push yourself because you want to stand out from the other applicants.”
Dougherty joined SGA because she plans to be involved with politics after she graduates. Once she arrived on campus, she started asking around and talking with current senators and thought the experience would be good for her.
“I knew this is where I wanted to be,” Dougherty said.
Hanson said she wanted to be a part of SGA as soon as she got to campus because politics have always been important to her.
Both Dougherty and Hanson planned to join the First-Year Student Advisory Committee if they weren’t selected as senators.
“I wanted to be involved, and so getting a position or not really didn’t matter to me,” Hanson said. “If I wouldn’t have become a senator, it would’ve been important for me to be involved.”
(First-years Catie Dougherty, left, and Jordan Hanson, right, are sworn in as first-year senators Sept. 23 in the Muenster University Center. Ally Krupinsky / The Volante)