Student Senate’s Campaign to Better Its Reputation

By Ella Prieto, Managing Editor 

As another academic year winds down, the Gettysburg College Student Senate has reflected on their year of work. While many members feel proud of their work and accomplishments, an issue still remains for the Senate: bettering their reputation on campus. Multiple meetings this semester have featured in-depth discussions around this issue. 

Senators have proposed numerous projects to accomplish this, such as paying for water bottle filling stations in College Theme Houses and hosting a campus-wide event. However, budget constraints led to this decision being postponed until the Office of Student Activities and Greek Life (OSAGL) provided $1,500 to the Student Senate. With this additional money, the Senate planned a Senate Outreach Event for the entire campus that will feature food, performances and activities on April 25. 

Still, the question of whether this is enough for the student population and whether the Student Senate is truly effective remains. As a new Executive Board transitions into power, the future of the Senate and its reputation on campus is uncertain.

Reflecting on the past year, President of the Student Body Andrew Lemon ’24 commented on the Student Senate’s work to enhance transparency with faculty and the student body.

“We have achieved this through the creation of our weekly Senate newsletter, which features the work our body does and different events across all different areas of student life on campus,” said Lemon. “Additionally, we have rebuilt our student concerns platform, where I work as the President to take concerns directly and address them with the Senate as a whole.”

Lemon believes that these two programs, along with stronger social media and digital communication, have caused Senate attendance to rise substantially from years past because more students are aware of the meetings and the various ways they can communicate concerns. 

When discussing reputation, Lemon stated his belief that a positive reputation for the Student Senate is essential for the work they engage in. He further shared that he wants the campus to understand that the Student Senate as a collaborative body has worked to address the challenges facing student life while also offering platforms for student leadership. He cited the Senate’s work to resolve over 150 student concerns since last September that pertain to all areas of student life.

Members of Student Senate. (Photo William Oehler/The Gettysburgian)

“From dining improvements, facilities renovations, and campus recreation, the Student Senate has come together to work with college leadership to solve some pressing issues to enhance our student life,” said Lemon. 

He also mentioned the Student Senate’s process of providing money to different clubs and organizations.

“Similarly, our Senate funds have been far extended to reach so many awesome areas of student life here at the college,” Lemon shared. “Having paid or received requests for funds over $81,000, our reserves have extended to many clubs and organizations that have allowed them the opportunities to host events that make our Gettysburg community so vibrant.”

Other events by the Senate have aimed to improve social life, such as the Senate Open that occurs during both the fall and spring semesters. 

Lemon explained, “…we want our students to see that we have provided platforms where students can attend social events and meet other Gettysburgians, all the while having a fun and engaging environment with comradery and music.”

Vice President of the Student Body Geoffrey Meadville ’25 offered a different perspective. 

“I see this year as a holding year where we saw what worked and didn’t work in this new structure [from the Student Senate constitutional overhaul]. We’ve done a lot of work internally and we need to do more work externally, but we need to be realistic about our expectations,” said Meadville. “The College will not change overnight, the student population will not change overnight. What we’ve done so far has been good, but there is still a lot left to be desired. As I am transitioning back into a student, I see how much more there is left to be desired. I hope the next Executive Board and Student Senate take more opportunities to engage with students in the way we want to be engaged with.” 

Pre-Law Club Student Senate Representative Riley Meyers ’24 discussed the Senate from a student perspective.

“I feel that the connotation of the Student Senate on campus is pretty negative. Most people view the Senate as having too much power over the way clubs are able to get their events funded,” Meyers explained. “I also think that some of the people associated with the Student Senate have expressed opinions about the way Senate is run that has caused a more negative connotation with the general population that does not attend Student Senate meetings.”

In discussing what the Senate could do to better their reputation, she stated, “I do think that an impact project like the Senate has been discussing could better their reputation. However, I think that a better way to better their reputation would be to collaborate with clubs throughout the year and be more involved in campus activities in small ways.”

Student Senate meets in CUB 260. (Photo William Oehler/The Gettysburgian)

The upcoming Executive Board offered their opinions of the Student Senate’s work this past year, as well as what they hope to accomplish in their future roles. 

Inclusion Officer Elect and Chair of the College Life Advisory Committee (CLAC) Oliver Eckloff ’27 discussed their plans for the end of the semester, as well as next year. 

“In the final weeks leading up to the end of the semester, the Senate is still working hard to improve our reputation and impact. The College Life Advisory Committee has been planning a large event that aims to better the relationship and communication between students and the Senate through free food, games, and entertainment,” shared Eckloff.  “Next year, I would like to address building accessibility and the existence of windows in residence hall showers, as well as all future and existing student concerns. It is my sincere hope that people will see the completion of these projects as a sign that the Senate cares and is doing its best to improve student life.” 

Regarding reputation, Eckloff said, “A positive reputation is vital for Student Senate. If the Senate is viewed well, students will be likely to trust us and come to us with any issues they encounter. The Senate represents the students and in order to be good representatives, we need open, honest, and ongoing communication.” 

Student Body Vice President-Elect and Inclusion Officer Abby Ruggiero ’26 echoed Eckloff’s sentiments, listing the various accomplishments the Inclusion Committee alone has executed, including working with International Student’s health insurance, altering the Student Name Policy so that transgender or nonbinary individuals will not have their dead names used and their continued effort to craft an expansive Freedom of Expression Policy.

She also commented on the Senate’s labor to increase transparency through avenues such as the Intranet site. 

“The biggest thing the entire Senate worked on this year was transparency from College administration to students through the Intranet website that was created specifically for students to access information regarding new decisions from the administration and changes the college will undergo,” explained Ruggiero. “We know the website isn’t perfect and needs a lot of work, but it is a great start to achieving the level of Transparency our students have been asking for!”

President of the Student Body Elect and Parliamentarian Michael Woods ’25 elaborated on Student Senate improvements, mentioning their discussions with the IT department to improve campus Wi-Fi and enhance the elections for Affinity Group Leaders. 

Looking ahead, Woods aims to make the Senate more externally productive and improve student representation in the College’s decision-making processes. 

“Over the past two years, much of our work has been internally based, including the passage of new amendments and modifications to committee charters. Although this work has been valuable, I believe that it is time for the Senate to refocus its efforts toward addressing issues impacting all of campus,” explained Woods. “Our college is going through a time of great change, but with change comes opportunity. To ensure that the voices and opinions of all students are heard, I plan to advocate for the creation of new student roles on administrative committees.”

This article originally appeared on pages 4 to 6 of the No. 2 April 2024 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.

Author: Ella Prieto

Ella Prieto ’26 serves as the Managing Editor for the Gettysburgian. Previously, she worked as the News Editor, the Assistant News Editor, and as a staff writer for the News and Arts & Entertainment sections. Ella is a double major in Public Policy and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies with a Writing Minor. On campus, Ella volunteers with the Casa Swim program, is an It’s On Us Fellow in the Office of Sexual Respect and Title IX, and is the President of the Panhellenic Council. She loves to read and keep up with celebrity drama in her free time.

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