With less than three weeks left at Missouri Southern, I have recently spent time reflecting upon my four years spent at the University that has been the primary aspect of my life over that time frame.
There are a number of things I have loved about my time at Southern — honestly, the majority of things — but one thing that has always bothered me was the lack of student involvement when it comes to campus matters related to student government.
I don’t know whether the reasoning behind the absence of involvement is because students are unaware of the student government, that they just don’t care or a combination of both, but I tend to lean towards the majority of the student body not caring, in part due to the possibility that students are unaware of how much of an effect Student Senate actually has around campus.
I have worked with The Chart for two years in a number of capacities, but one constant from the time I became a staff member has been that I cover Senate meetings every Wednesday evening. When assigned with the weekly meetings, I was pretty bummed at first, “Oh boy, student government,” but that attitude quickly changed as I realized the weight and influence that can come from the organization.
Some nights lived up to the image I had painted of Senate: boring procedures and students seemingly debating pointless matters. The majority of meetings, however, featured thousands of dollars being allotted to anything from registered student organizations to the allocation of money for the Lion statue; the meetings are where ideas such as the now infamous ROAR Fund and the campus smoking ban came to fruition.
This is where the lack of student body involvement comes into play. Initiation to Senate is almost guaranteed due to the fact that few people run or participate in the votes.
Last May’s ballot featuring the ROAR Fund proposal, smoking ban and executive officer positions had one of the largest turnouts in recent memory, according to Vice President of Student Affairs Darren Fullerton, but still less than 500 of Southern’s 5,600-plus enrollment showed up to the polls to vote.
This is a call to get involved – students rarely have an option to have their opinion voiced on campus, but Senate is the exception.