Student Senate Searches for Structure, Identity

Last semester, Millikin’s Student Senate folded. But this year, they hope to create a more stable organization.


At a meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, a group of students and the Student Senate advisor discussed how to improve the Senate and build up from the challenges of last year.


“Let’s revamp it, let’s see what we can change, let’s make those necessary changes so it’ll be at the most operative level for an organization,” Rubi Rodriguez, the Student Representative to the Board of Trustees, said.


The students at the meeting considered what actions they could take that might strengthen the Senate. These actions include bringing in more people, restructuring the Senate, and appointing official positions.


Paul Lidy, the Senate’s advisor, suggested that the group could ask professors to recommend students who are involved on campus and might want to join the Senate.


“What we’re wanting to do is kind of consolidate and kind of start with a stronger, mightier group that has really good follow-through and presence on campus,” Lidy said.


Those in attendance spent most of the meeting discussing what the Student Senate could be at Millikin. They agreed that some of the issues stemmed from confusion about what role the Senate should play.


“The goal of these meetings would be to figure out what our identity is, because right now, really, it’s an identity crisis,” Rodriguez said.


Currently, there is no official Student Senate at Millikin. The Senate folded after a lack of participation and accountability last spring.


“At the end of last year, the seniors who were in leadership positions along with Dean [Raphaella] Prange, who was the advisor, decided it was best for Student Senate to fold because we weren’t doing what we were designed to do and we didn’t have the membership that we needed to function,” Reiss Naylor, the former First-Year Senator, said. “We were told that any members who were not seniors were welcome to restart it. We were told that we could change it or we could keep it the same.”


Several students are interested in restarting the Senate. In addition to increasing membership, they also want to focus on restructuring the organization.


“Sometimes you need that little hiccup to give everyone a wakeup call. If that’s what needed to happen, it happened,” Rodgriguez said.


In the past, there were several Senators who represented different groups on campus. Lidy advocated for the continuation of this model.


While Student Senate caters to students, they are also involved with the university administration. Among other things, the Senate handles emergency and formal allocations for clubs and organizations, and they will likely continue to do so.


This year, the Senate is trying to decide how involved they will be on campus. Those at the meeting considered what projects the Senate could undertake. Possible suggestions include informational sessions for students and busing students to polling stations.


Above all else, the Senate’s purpose is to serve the students. Last year, Senate held biweekly meetings that were open to the public.  They strove to provide a forum for students to discuss issues and take action. However, few students attended these meetings.


Members hope that this will change. They are looking for students who will take on a more active role in the Senate. They also encourage students to attend Senate meetings and come to the Senate with issues. They want students to have a say at their school.


“The whole point of Student Senate is for students to have a voice and to collectively come together with your voice so it’s heard,” Lidy said.


Students who want to get involved with Student Senate can contact Rodriguez or Lidy.