GVSU students can make an impact by participating in senate elections

By Lanthorn Editorial Board | 2/12/18 1:34am

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With the winter 2018 semester almost halfway over, it's time for returning Grand Valley State University students to begin thinking about the next academic year. Aside from scheduling classes, GVSU students can also look to get civically engaged on campus. One way to do this is by participating in the upcoming student senate elections, whether by running for an open seat or voting.

Student senate is comprised of 50 seats on seven different committees ranging from finance to diversity affairs and everything in between, so interested students will undoubtedly be able to find a position where they can make an impact in an area they're passionate about. 

Running for senate gives GVSU students an opportunity to make a difference. Not only can they ensure their priorities are represented in the school's government, but they can also contribute to bringing about policies that will shape GVSU and affect generations of students to come. 

GVSU senators are constantly working on initiatives to improve students' experiences at the university. Just the past two academic years, the senate has helped students register to vote, co-sponsored an inaugural Mental Health Awareness Week, continued to fight for a fall break, launched a support group for victim-survivors of sexual assault, changed the housing policy for holiday lights, passed a resolution for a human rights minor and implemented many other resolutions. Every student at GVSU has benefited or at least been affected by one of these policies, and students elected to senate have the opportunity to propose and implement them firsthand. 

Joining an organization like student senate also gives students the chance to make important connections. Senators are often able to work directly with faculty and administration, as well as people in the surrounding community, all of whom could potentially make great references come graduation time. Senators also make excellent connections within the senate organization itself, and peer relationships are no less important; the more (connections) the merrier. 

Another benefit of participating in the student senate elections is the opportunity to develop leadership skills. Regardless of where students end up after graduation, they will undoubtedly have to spearhead a committee or project at some point. Serving on student senate is a practical, hands-on way to develop leadership skills, and being able to say you led the implementation of a university policy looks great on a resume.

To run for senate, students must meet certain criteria, including being enrolled at GVSU during the time the position is filled and maintaining a certain cumulative grade point average at all times. For a full list of campaign rules and regulations, visit www.gvsu.edu/studentsenate/elections-117.htm.

Even if you don't run for a position on student senate, you can vote in the elections to make sure there are senators who represent you and will advocate for policies that reflect your priorities as a student. You can also attend student senate's weekly general assemblies, held every Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center Pere Marquette Room.

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