Same mission, different structure

By Adam Rivera
Rider’s student senators filled Sweigart 115 on March 31, and with good reason. They saw the proposal of new bylaws that will substantially change Student Senate come fall semester 2015.
“The current structure of Senate is obsolete,” said John Modica, freshman finance major and one of Rider’s Student Government Association’s (SGA) Senate aides. “It doesn’t work. There’s no mechanism for individual students to voice their concerns.”
Modica has been working closely with SGA vice president, Ryan Hopely, sophomore public relations major, on fixing what they identify as the weaknesses of the current system. T hey have been meeting with all involved parties since December, improving the proposed bylaws.
“Senate has a history of not very productive meetings,” said Hopely. “You had senators coming to meetings and doing their job, but not being asked to do work. On the other side, it has been the job of the vice president to generate content, which can work and be very productive, but it’s a lot of pressure on one person. With the new organization, we’re asking senators to generate content.”
At present, there are 52 student senators, appointed from various organizations around campus, such as the Residence Hall Association (RHA) and the Association of Commuting Students (ACS). Hopely and Modica believe a Senate composed entirely of representatives from various organizations is not the right approach.
“Senators feel their role is restricted,” said Hopely. “Coming from an organization, they do not feel they represent the entire student body. It all comes back to the idea of, ‘Let’s not force anyone to do anything.’ Once we have people there because they care, we’re going to ask and require them to do work.”
The new bylaws will require that 25 of the student senators are elected by the student body, five from each class.
“Instead of being appointed, they’ll be elected, so they really understand the position coming in,” said Hopely.
The restructured Student Senate will have 59 senators in total. As always, all members of the SGA executive board, which will be increased from four to seven members in the fall, will hold senate seats. In addition, all four class presidents and all seven committee chairs will hold seats. The Student Entertainment Council will have one seat. Finally, a total of 15 senators will still be appointed from RHA, ACS and the Greek Council.
“There still needs to be a representation of commuter issues, resident issues, and Greek issues in Senate,” said Modica. “Each organization, however they choose to do it, can send five representatives to represent that specific organization.”
Additionally, two of a class’s five senators must be commuting students.
“This division is logistical and to guarantee diversity,” said Hopely. “Senators aren’t there to represent their class. General senators represent the entire student body.”
Perhaps the most significant change is a requirement that all senators serve on at least one standing committee.
“Currently, we have appointed chair positions that deal with specific issues, such as diversity or campus beautification,” said Modica. “The problem is these chairmen are left alone to figure out what to do with their topic, with no guidance. So now, they’re going to have committees. As always, these chairmen will be selected through an application process. In the fall, senators will volunteer for the committee they’re interested in.”
Moving forward, senator elections will become a part of the SGA election cycle.
“Elections for senators run at the same time as the executive elections, so at the same time the new president and SGA board is voted in this spring, senators are voted in,” said Modica.
This year, the deadline for applications to run for student senator is April 6. Modica and Hopely believe this new system has potential to make SGA even more efficient and beneficial to Rider.
“We want SGA to change the university as a whole,” said Modica. “The overall goal is to make students happier.”

“These changes allow for student participation,” said Anthony Campbell, dean of students.
Perhaps the most significant change is a requirement that all senators serve on at least one standing committee.
“Currently, we have appointed chair positions that deal with specific issues, such as diversity or campus beautification,” said Modica. “The problem is these chairmen are left alone to figure out what to do with their topic, with no guidance. So now, they’re going to have committees. As always, these chairmen will be selected through an application process. In the fall, senators will volunteer for the committee they’re interested in.”
Moving forward, senator elections will become a part of the SGA election cycle.
“Elections for senators run at the same time as the executive elections, so at the same time the new president and SGA board is voted in this spring, senators are voted in,” said Modica.
This year, the deadline for applications to run for student senator is April 6. Modica and Hopely believe this new system has potential to make SGA even more efficient and beneficial to Rider.
“We want SGA to change the university as a whole,” said Modica. “The overall goal is to make students happier.”

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