By ERIC STEIGLEDER
The Mary Washington Student Senate convened for its first meeting of the semester on Sept. 9. Presided over by SGA Vice President Hassan Abdelhalim, this Senate meeting allowed both senior and newly-elected senators to familiarize themselves with parliamentary procedures, committees, and legislative expectations.
In Mary Washington student government, the Senate is compromised of directly elected student representatives. Senators propose various forms of legislation in the form of motions, which are then sent to the Executive Cabinet for approval.
With such a pivotal role in campus policy, Abdelhalim readily emphasized the importance of senatorial involvement in the political process.
Vice President of Student Affairs Douglas Searcy, Dean of Student Life Cedric Rucker, and SGA President Sam Miller were in attendance.
Ashley Duvall, the Student Senate Parliamentarian, called the meeting to order, followed by a short introductory speech my Abdelhalim.
“It’s important to get out there as senators,” Abdelhalim said. “We have a chance to leave a long lasting legacy.”
Searcy and Rucker, representing the UMW administration, also spoke.
Searcy emphasized the necessity for strong student leaders on campus. He also stressed the importance of debate and discussion as a student senator.
“Watch out for those opportunities to endorse the status quo.” Searcy said. “If there’s not uncomfortable conversation going on in this room, then you aren’t doing your job.”
Searcy also challenged the 39 student senators to hold the university and the student community to a higher standard.
“Raise the bar. Raise the bar for this institution,” Searcy said. “We won’t move unless you take us there.”
Rucker expressed his respect for Student Senate, citing the legislature’s effective policy initiatives.
“One of the things I take great privilege in is being directly involved in Senate,” Rucker said. “You’re an effective body.”
However, Rucker also urged the senators to reach out and listen to their diverse constituency.
“It’s important to not, as Senators, represent yourselves,” He said. “You represent 4,200 other individuals, and those are the voices you need to bring to this chamber. Connect with them.”
SGA President Sam Miller expressed her admiration for Student Senate, herself a member of the body for three years prior to last semester’s presidential election.
She emphasized her goals of communication and representation.
“Go out and find things that can be improved upon,” Miller urged the room. “Your role will benefit the school.”
Senior James Martin expressed excitement at the prospect of a busy legislative year in Senate. Martin was a member of Senate during his freshman year, but was appointed to the Executive Cabinet his sophomore year, and ran for president of the Honor Council last year.
“It’s the biggest Senate I’ve seen in my four years on campus.” Martin said. “The administrations availability is unprecedented.”
Senior Cara MacDonald, beginning her third year in senate, echoed Martin’s sentiments, but erred on the side of caution.
According to MacDonald, her first year was plagued with road blocks and an unwillingness to challenge the administration. However, she has noticed a positive change in Student Senate over the past year.
“Last year there were many positive changes to the student senate,” MacDonald said. “My hope this year is that this trend will continue.
Although I’m often cynical about the willingness of the administration to listen to the student’s concerns, I remain positive that the student senators will be able to accomplish some of their goals this year.”