Senate plans for fall semester
Carnegie Mellon Student Government is all over social media. The Facebook statuses showed up last week, peppering timelines in the Carnegie Mellon network with information about the Undergraduate Student Senate and its various subcommittees.
The Undergraduate Student Senate is made up of 37 voting members, and each one of them is responsible for not only representing the students from their academic college, but for joining one of six committees within the body. The committees — Academic Affairs, Business Affairs, Campus Life, Communications, Finance, and Internal Development — are all a part of the larger mission of Senate: to improve the lives of students at Carnegie Mellon and the campus community as a whole, according to senior social and decision sciences major and Senate chair Julia Eddy. The committees are headed by senators who have been elected by their peers.
The heads of each committee are a part of the Executive Committee of Senate, which meets weekly to check in on the progress that each committee is making. While some of the committees overlap in their goals and projects, they all have a set of objectives that they aim to achieve within the semester and for longer term.
As the subcommittees kick off their year, most are working on projects that all serve one common purpose: making life at Carnegie Mellon easier for the students who undertake it.
The Campus Life Committee is headed by junior statistics major Kruti Koppolu. “The goal of the [campus life] committee is to help students reach into the Pittsburgh community and get out of the Carnegie Mellon bubble,” said Koppolu. “We want them to enrich their CMU experience that way.”
Campus Life’s agenda focuses on elements of student life, such as mental health, housing, dining, and school spirit. The Campus Life committee was responsible for putting together the Strip District Crawl of January last year, an event that was such a huge success that they are planning to host a second iteration early next semester.
“Our approach to campus life is three tiered. We focus first on how campus life impacts students, then how it impacts the campus as a whole, and finally, how we can reach out to Pittsburgh and engage with the community here,” Koppolu said.
Along with the Strip District Crawl, Campus Life will be organizing a trip Downtown to participate in Light Up Night, Pittsburgh’s celebration of the holiday season and a school spirit event during Cèilidh weekend.
Overall, Koppolu said, the goal of the committee is to bridge divisions of school, wise and ethnicity by focusing on events that highlight Carnegie Mellon’s diversity. “Students will come out to these events, meet new people, and find out more about CMU. Even if you’re a senior, there’s always something new to learn and getting involved on campus is a great way to help out. We want to make people aware that what they’re putting into CMU will come back to them,” she said.
Chaired by sophomore computer science major Eric Zhu, the Academic Affairs Committee works to improve the academic aspect of life at Carnegie Mellon. One of their primary initiatives that will be launched this semester is the faculty-student lunch program, which provides free lunches to students and faculty to encourage conversation and engagement.
The committee also focuses on how to hone in on the academic parts of campus life that may cause stress and brainstorms ways to decrease it. Zhu said that the committee has a few ideas for new projects and that they will continue to work on past initiatives to check in that they are still effective. Such efforts include mental health syllabus blurbs, professor talks, the Academic Relationships Code, and Student Spotlights.
The Communications Committee’s primary role, according to junior economics and statistics double major and committee chair Srishti Jain, is to bridge the gap that exists between the student population and Senate. “Our goal is to make the student body aware of what we’re working on, how they can get involved, and also what ideas they have that we can crowdsource from them and act on,” Jain said.
The committee is responsible for publicizing efforts and initiatives, such as the faculty-student lunch program, for which they created designs, posters, and a website. Essentially, it serves as the liaisons between the Senate and the students that Senate serves.
“Sometimes, Senate gets caught up working on all of the projects that they undertake and forgets to tell students what we’re doing for them. We work to make students aware of what Senate can offer to them,” Jain said. They are working on social media updates, website refurbishment, and a plan for Senate week to that end.
“We just want to remind people that we exist and that we’re doing things,” Jain said. “Otherwise, what’s the point of all of the work that we do?”