Student Senate tries to reflect make-up of GVSU community

High representation for Greeks, low for females and grad students

By Claire Fodell | 2/12/14 6:25pm

With election time coming up, Student Senate is reexamining its efforts to maintain a body that is representative of the Grand Valley State University student population.

“The goal of the Student Senate is to have a good representation of the various student population constituencies,” said Associate Dean for Student Life Bob Stoll. “The election process is open to all students and the desire is that various constituencies will seek election.”

Although equal representation is what the senate aims for, Vice President for Senate Resources Danielle Meirow said that with such a diverse student body, it’s not always an easy task.

Currently, the senate only has one rule: all students must be given a fair chance to join.

Of the fifty senate seats available next year, six will not be filled until the fall, giving students who aren’t enrolled this semester the opportunity to be included.

“We do reserve six spots for the freshmen and transfers, but that’s the only ratio kind of thing that we aim for,” Meirow said.

There has been talk about having students from each college make up Student Senate, but no serious plans have been made, said Meirow.

Regulating senators’ disciplines and grade levels is tough for the senate, but it’s trying to make a more representative body in other ways.

“Something we’ve struggled with in the past is having a very high Greek population, and that’s gone down quite a bit this year,” Meirow said. “Part of our goal is reaching out more to the general student body.”

At GVSU, 6 percent of students are involved with Greek life, but in recent years, the senate population was more than 50 percent Greek.

Meirow said the high number of Greeks isn’t a bad thing, but it isn’t representative of GVSU.

The gender ratio is another thing that Meirow hopes the upcoming election will fix. At GVSU, 59.1 percent of the student population is female. However, this is not reflected in the senate. Currently, 18 out of the 50 senators are female, or 36 percent.

Graduate students are also being encouraged to run for election. In the past year, the graduate student population has become more active on campus with the creation of a Graduate Student Association.

“Graduate students are welcome to be on Student Senate, but they tend to view our office hour policy and our meetings too rigorous and not compatible with their time schedule,” Meirow said.

Overall, the senate is looking for students who want to help shape the GVSU experience for all current and future Lakers.

“As our mission statement states, we are working to help students shape their lives, their professions and their societies,” Stoll said. “I encourage students who want to make a difference in our campus community to seek this experience.”

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Lanthorn.