In the last edition of The Record, the Editors wrote an “Our View” editorial on civic engagement on campus. As members of the St. Ben’s Senate, we wholeheartedly support their opinion, and would like to expand further on the points they made.
A few weeks ago, the St. Ben’s and St. John’s campuses saw a sudden spike in civic engagement. This semester, enforcement of underage alcohol consumption and City of St. Joseph ordinances has been more visible and noticed by students. Moreover, an email was sent from the Vice President of Student Development on each of our campuses expressing concerns about student behavior on the weekends.
Due to the magnitude of student reactions, the St. John’s Senate held an open forum during their regular Monday meeting addressing the student concerns. This was the highest attended St. John’s Senate meeting in recent memory, with about 100 students in attendance and over a dozen students speaking directly to the Senate. This outpouring of student voices was amazing and you should do it more often.
There is a broad spectrum of issues that students are taking action on at CSB/SJU. Whether it be addressing divisions on campuses or issues that go
beyond the scope of our daily lives, students care deeply about who we are as a student body and as an institution. As a Senate, we too seek to take action on thetopics that are most pertinent to our community. That being said, we strive to be a governing organization that meets the expectations and values of the student body; therefore, we want students to be aware of what we are doing and the measures we are taking to benefit student life on campus.
One of the Senates’ various roles on campus is to act as the guardian of the Student Activity Fee. Every meeting, students and organizations come to Senate and request a portion of the money that every student contributes through this fee. For example, this semester the Senate has contributed funding to the Peer Resource Program, Extending the Link, the First Year Retreat Experience, the Hmong Women’s Summit, ROTC, paid for feminine products to be provided in the bathrooms on both campuses and more.
Senate doesn’t fund these items haphazardly; we do so in order to develop a vibrant campus and an engaged community. We seek to empower Bennies, provide necessary resources and create opportunities that would otherwise be out of students’ reach. This is a lofty goal and is frequently difficult to measure without the engagement of the student body.
Senate is the sole organization on campus that represents the entirety of the student body. We act as the voice of the students in institutional decisions, and can only remain viable and legitimate as long as we have continued engagement from those we represent.
To this end, we believe it is crucial for students to know that the Senates have time set aside for an open forum at our meetings every week where community members may address the Senates directly. Any comments made at this time will directly guide our actions. In addition, The Record reports on our meetings every week and the St. Ben’s Senate meetings are posted on YouTube, where they are publicly available.
We hope to see a continued spirit of engagement throughout the school year.
This is the opinion of Mary Catherine Steenberge, SBS President, CSB senior and Libby Grygar, SBS Club Auditor, CSB junior