University of Redlands’ student government is experiencing a change in the structure of their senate. This choice was made by ASUR. The decision was to decrease the amount of senators from one senator representing each hall, plus three representing off campus students, to having two senators for each class. Previously, those running for senators would be voted for by the dorms they represent, while off campus senators were appointed. The change also means that the senators do not directly represent dorms or halls. Now, they will be voted by the whole student body for their respected class.
Holding the position as a senator means that one must to reach out to its constituents and sit in on town hall meetings. They take charge in projects for those they represent and bring up vital issues from their constituents to ASUR. Senate also approves of the ASUR budget by vote and acts as the representative of their dorms.
With this change in the number of senators and changing the representation for dorms, there had been some backlash from the student body. Some see that lowering the amount of senators lowers the representation for the whole student body. Other criticisms have to do with the representation for dorms and halls, and if changing the process of voting will alter how involved the community can be in student government.
The Redlands Bulldog met with ASUR President Kamal Bilal and Senate Chair Kevin Matthews to get more insight on what the change in senate means. Both Bilal and Matthews state that this change in senate was a necessary in order to make senate more efficient and accountable to the community and the student body.
One of the issues with senate was that it was too restrictive to one hall or dorm. This change will bring senators out of one group and has them focus on their class as a whole. The plan is to have the senators be more involved–they will not be restricted to one dorm, but will attend dorm meetings, club meetings and community meetings so that they can better represent the whole student body. Another issue was that the projects taken up by the senators were often localized in their dorms. Since Residential Life already focuses a great deal on the dorms and halls, it would be more effective to get senators associated with the entire student body. Matthews shared that there are already plans for projects that extend outside dorms, like planning a larger green space or a garden for succulents.
The report sent out earlier this semester detailed the change as a strategic move to get senators more involved in student life. The semester report also shows how the electoral process for senators will change. Senators will be chosen before the end of the semester and will go through training before the beginning of school. Bilal believes that this change will prove to be more efficient. Both Bilal and Matthews believe that having senators included in more meetings and events allows them to have a better perspective on student activities which allows them to better represent the student body.
“Senators should go to different meetings and this change will make senators more involved in the community,” said Bilal.
The implementation of these changes have yet to occur, but ASUR believes that this change is necessary for efficiency and progress for student government and will ultimately benefit the student body.
Photo contributed by Redlands Bulldog photographer, Miracle Cariaga.