The Gustavian Weekly

Student Senate opens year with fall election: Widespread vacancies cause Senate to host this year’s election earlier | The Gustavian Weekly

By Ella Napton - Staff Writer | September 22, 2017 | News

Student Senate holds its first meeting of the school year as Co-Presidents, Solveig Svendson and Hubert Ngabirano, address the incoming and returning members.

Student Senate holds its first meeting of the school year as Co-Presidents, Solveig Svendson and Hubert Ngabirano, address the incoming and returning members.

The Student Senate elections came up on the Gustavus community rather quickly at the start of each school year, with applications due from prospective student representatives on the first Monday after move-in.

This left a short ten days between classes starting and Senate elections, a slim margin for one of the central student lead organizations to garner interest.For a majority of Gustavus students, the first Monday after move-in includes attempts at figuring out syllabi, sort out their various and often incomplete book lists, and find who they can grab lunch with between their 11:30 and 12:30 classes.

While a good number of applications were turned in for Student Senate this year, there were nine positions left unfilled from a variety of residence halls and other roles.

This forced the Student Senate to redirect their focus from welcoming new members to emailing all of the halls that did not have positions filled, and tabling at the Involvement Fair.

“[It was] a little difficult to get people on board,” Student Senate Co-President Hubert Ngabirano said.

“[I am] really excited to see what the new International Senator brings to the table and how she represents her constituents.” – Rafay Arshad

Lower student interest might have been due to the time commitment Student Senate requires, or the tendency of Gustavus students to be extremely (sometimes over) involved in campus organizations.

Six of the nine positions were filled in the following days, leaving three open spots on the senate: the Off-Campus representative, the College View representative, and the Chapel View representative. Elections for these unfilled positions will be held Oct. 10, 2017.

One goal that Ngabirano has for the Senate is to see what would happen in elections were moved later and did not happen so abruptly in the school year.

Although, he did mention that one constraint of this shift is that organizations who require funding will still need to be funded.

Therefore, a committee would have to be formed before there is a complete Senate to watch over this process.

“[the election itself ] went really smoothly and the Senate didn’t face any difficulties with it,” Junior Rafay Arshad said.

Ngabirano agreed, and believes the election process went successfully due to the preparations the Senate had for proper tabling durations.

This semester’s election avoided misconduct issues, something that has not been true in recent memory.

Ngabirano believes that the communication process was a well-oiled machine this year, which contributed largely to the overall success of the Student Senate elections.

Both Ngabirano and Arshad are excited for the upcoming year in the Student Senate.

“[I am] really excited to see what the new International Senator brings to the table and how she represents her constituents,” Arshad said.

Ngabirano is excited to try and make the Senate much more visible and involved on campus as a whole.

He hopes to work with the [Gustavian] Weekly on a section that occurs monthly to outline what the Senate has been working on.

This will keep students in the loop to what projects are occurring in the Senate if going to the community portion that occurs at the Senate’s meeting every Monday is not an option.

This community portion is used to allow anyone to voice their needs, complaints, and desires for and/or about Gustavus.

This will be done in hopes that the Senate will address and “fix” whatever is brought up.

Overall, Ngabirano stressed that the Student Senate is composed of 34 people.

And these 34 people try, but cannot always accurately represent the opinions of the 2,000+ students on Gustavus’ campus.

Therefore, his desire to create an open and inclusive Senate is incredibly important to his mission to represent the student body as accurately as possible.

“[The Senate is] growing towards becoming the most welcoming place for people to come and feel as though they’re being heard,” Ngabirano said.