Student Senate prioritizes constituent feedback

In an effort to facilitate greater communication between Student Senate and its constituents, the senate has incorporated a new e-mail feedback system.

“We as Student Senate can’t get out there and know all the problems,” Student Body Vice President Jordan Miller said. “(The students tell me) this is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong.”

With e-mails, the Senate hopes students will become more involved in what is happening on campus.

“Before, communication was via person to person,” said Student Body President William Kuehni, a senior majoring in political science and history.  “Now, we can communicate directly with students and learn about issues right away.”

The current Senate members ran for office last school year on a political platform of open communication.  The student e-mail feedback system is one way the senators are attempting to live up to those promises.

“People don’t even know what the Student Senate does,” Miller said.

“Student Senate wasn’t out there to do anything for a while,” Senate Executive Board Secretary John Koechley said.

Miller, searching for a way to connect the student body, began to e-mail Senate meeting updates to Business Industry Life Science and Agriculture (BILSA) students. Senate’s current e-mail feedback system is an expansion of Miller’s work as BILSA senator.

“Last year, I came in knowing nothing about Student Senate,” Miller said.

With approval from Student Affairs and the Office of Information Technology, Miller expanded the e-mail list to cover the entire student body.

The normal amount of response after a Student Senate meeting update is 50 to 60 emails.  Miller is usually the one who reads and responds to each of the emails individually.  Because of the reaction time, it can take the administration a while to make decisions on issues.

Eventually, Miller hopes to create a specialized e-mail system to help the various tasks brought to the attention of the Student Senate, via the feedback system, to be dealt with more quickly and efficiently.

When Miller first decided upon implementing the system, Kuehni raised concern regarding how many responses students would submit and how effective those responses would be in changing the campus.

“We want students to feel like they can communicate with us,” Kuehni said.  “We want to represent students as well as we can.”

However, due to the large number of e-mails, Miller does not read every response. If he receives a lot of feedback on a certain topic, he looks into it; otherwise, he forwards the e-mail to the appropriate person.