Student Senate improves visibility with Senate Week

Student government has an image problem, but this year’s Student Senate Week faced the issues head on.

The editorial board of The Tartan has not been shy in the past about noting the lack of transparency between the student body and Student Senate. Although Senate representatives are very aware of the concerns and priorities of the student body (as students themselves), there is often a lack of visibility with Student Senate’s activities.

Last year, we were very excited to hear the announcement of Carnegie Mellon’s first ever Student Senate Week, a five-day-long series of events aimed at improving transparency. But we were disappointed to find that 2011’s Senate Week focused more on Senators’ awareness of the student body than vice versa.

However, it seems that this year, Student Senate is aiming to form a stronger relationship with the student body and create a means to disperse information to the campus community. We were very impressed with how this year’s Student Senate went above and beyond and focused Senate Week toward improving the student body’s awareness of Student Senate.

The presence of representatives tabling outside of the University Center was a notable change from previous years, where student government lacked an ongoing and immediate connection with students on campus.

In particular, The Tartan would like to commend the college representatives who, in conjunction with Senate Week, sent out emails last Monday to just their respective departments’ students. The emails contained the names of the representatives, in order to encourage student body input on Senate initiatives.

Not only is this a tactful acknowledgement and a step in the right direction toward improving their visibility, but this type of outreach to departments from Student Senators — as individuals with names rather than as an amorphous student organization — is incredibly useful for the student body.

We strongly encourage the rest of Student Senate to perform similar types of student body outreach in the future.