The recent post election day incident at the free expression tunnel put significant pressure on many of the institutions and leaders at NC State, and perhaps no student group was put more in the spotlight of the community inside and outside of campus than the student Senate, as the student body and other concerned members of the NC State community watched on to see what their response would be. Unfortunately, many people inside and outside of the student body did not understand exactly what the student Senate’s role would be in responding to the issue because they did not understand the student Senate’s duties in NCSU’s student government system.
The Senate includes sixty four members elected to proportionally represent each of the University’s colleges and degree program classifications (undergraduate, graduate, and non degree). There is also a Senate President elected by the student body at large, and multiple other officers within the Senate.
The Senate has three main roles in the student government system: advocating on behalf of the student body, determining appropriations for student groups on campus, and determining ticket distribution policies for football and men’s basketball games in conjunction with the athletic offices. Most of the Senate’s work is done in its committees, each Senator serves on at least one standing committee. There are also three other ongoing committees which deal with issues that include budget and appropriations.
After the tunnel incident, the spotlight was most brightly cast on how the student Senate would advocate on behalf of the student body. The Senate itself could not punish the students, but it could suggest a punishment and make a statement on behalf of the student body, which it did shortly after the incident with a resolution condemning the acts and suggesting that the University punish the perpetrators to the fullest possible extent.
Though the tunnel incident put the Senate’s ability to advocate for the concerns of the student body center stage, the responsibility to appropriate funds for student groups that are members of the Student Organization Resource Center (SORC) is also extremely important. The decisions that the Senate makes can affect whether or not student groups can continue operations into the future and how effectively they do so. There are a multitude of diverse groups that are a part of the SORC, and there are multiple African American Student Groups among them. Any funding they get from the school is first approved by the student Senate.
Determining ticket policies for football and men’s basketball games has always been a key issue for the student Senate in the past. It is important for all students to remember that the Senate is not the only entity responsible for determining ticketing policies; all resulting policies are set by the efforts of the Senate and athletic offices working collaboratively, not the Senate working alone.
Perhaps the most important thing for students to remember is that the student Senate is a representative body. Student Senators are not elected to vote to represent their own feelings and views but to vote to represent the views and concerns of their constituents, because of this, it is important that students are involved with their Senators past simply voting for them during the elections. Senators value the opinions and feelings of the people they represent, and if students want their views and concerns represented in the Senate, it is best to contact your Senators and tell them how you feel. All Senators can be reached at their email addresses listed in the Senate directory at the student Senate webpage at http://students.ncsu.edu/senate/.