The Student Government Association’s senators are not doing their job.
As someone who was on the Student Government Association’s senate, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly during my time. Currently, the senate is exhibiting levels of lethargy I have previously not seen.
As senators and student representatives, they have sworn to execute several different duties. The senators have office hours, they are expected to be conducting student outreach to learn their constituents’ opinions on issues, with these student opinions and concerns they are expected to communicate them with their SGA colleagues where they can work together to craft legislation to address the concerns of their constituents.
The constituents of these senators expect them to be able to speak on their senator’s own legislation and on other senators’ legislation–articulating the implications of such legislation on their constituents. Senators are expected by their constituents to debate.
When I was appointed a first-year senator in 2015, the Senate was active, vocal, and willing to work. The second year, there was less debate in general (though not when it came to the GAF), but the senators still cared about getting things done for their constituents. Previous senators introduced and passed legislation which funded water-bottle refill stations and got the ball rolling for other buildings to follow suit.
Last year, there were only four or five senators doing the work with the executive team to get things done for the student body. And this year, there are even less. The Senate suffers from apathy, a lack of interest in doing the actual work. Senate has become a resume builder, a go-to act of involvement for politically interested students.
On many occasions, I have walked by the SGA office and found a senator sitting inside with the door closed, unwilling to be open to student interaction. I have seen countless meetings where senators do not speak on issues. Do not ask questions or make any statements on an issue, failing to share the thoughts of their constituents with the rest of the Senate.
Every week, it’s the same people introducing legislation. Legislation including title changes to make the executive positions “sound better”, which only further reinforces the appearance of prioritizing resume lines over public service.
When senators want legislation edited, they simply send it to committee instead of taking the time to amend it on the floor. As a student represented by many of the senators (over half) as either an Arts and Sciences senator or an At-Large senator, I am telling the senate that they are not doing their job. The senators are failing their constituents.
As someone who oversaw the At-Large process several times, I know many of the senators address in their interviews and their applications that some pressing issue motivated them to join SGA. I have heard countless senators say that they would like to bring “X” resolution or bill, and yet never take any steps to draft such legislation. These senators are certainly not the only individuals guilty of this, even the senators who did the work–myself included–regret not bringing forth legislation important to us.
Senators have the opportunity to do better for their constituents, and I desperately hope they take it.