The Students Have A Voice

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Published on April 4, 2016

The Student Senate at Housatonic is here to represent for the students. The senate is the voice for every student on campus. The senate is responsible for decision making for events as well as allocating funds for clubs.

When you receive email notifications through your student email about events and activities going on at the college as well as seeing postings around the school; that is all by the student senate.

Each semester students attending HCC pay a fee of $10 if they’re a full-time student and $5 if they’re a part-time student. These fees support student organizations and student activities. If there are funds that have not been used in one semester, then the money is rolled over to the following semester.

According to a pamphlet from the HCC Student Senate, “The Student Senate exists to ensure that money students pay on a compulsory basis for the cause of  ‘Student Activities’ goes towards programs that are beneficial and accessible for all students choosing to participate.”

Student Senate Graphic

Matthew Dunne, far left, co-advisor to the student senate and members of the Student Senate. (Photo by Jessica James)

For example, when we had the Winter Globe party in 2015 the senate was responsible for that event and it was covered by the students fees.

If a club wants to go on a trip or have an event at school the first thing they do is make a proposal that they submit to Kelly K. Hope, Director of Student Activities. Then they go before the senate explaining what they are trying to do. If the Senate approves, then they allocate the student funds.

“I attended…the Winter Globe event. By walking in and seeing all the decorations that were in the room and of course all of the food, you were able to tell that  a lot of time, money, and effort went into it. Even though I could not stay long due to final presentations, I definitely enjoyed myself with a couple of my classmates,” says HCC student Leena Hadid.

Now, you might be curious about wanting to have your ideas heard without being part of a club; it is possible.

Fred Kaesmann is a Student Representative on the Senate, he says,  “Any student can come speak at a meeting.  If you want to voice your opinion at the Senate meeting you would have to contact Kelly K. Hope, and let her know about your proposal, and then she will include you on the agenda.”

The individuals that are part of this organization put aside time and energy to come up with great ideas that will better our school’s community.

If you are looking to be apart of the Student Senate, it is never too late.

Their pamphlet in the Student Life Office, Beacon Hall Room 317, explains “a position on the Student Senate is ideal for students that are looking for a career or other lifelong participation within the political community or any field requiring leadership skills such as objectivity and communication.”

By being a part of the senate you gain leadership skills and learn about the community you are serving. To become part of the school senate you have to be a registered student at HCC for starters. Then you go to the Student Life Office and pick up an application.

Once you put your application in, you go around the school and get fifty signatures from peers and those signatures end up being your votes. Next, you hand that in with your application and then go through some questioning from the panel of student senators.

Once questions come to an end, it is time to vote you in and if you get approved majority of current senators then you are in. Lastly, to  activate your membership you have attend scheduled meetings and devote two hours of your time a weekly.

According to Lisa McCree, who is the Secretary on the Senate for her second semester, “It is simple to be elected; I put in an application, received my fifty votes from my peers, and I also explained to them the interest I have in student affairs.  I asked students about what would they like to see go on at the campus and what they disliked too.”

Kaesmann says,“ By being on the Senate I’ve learned that just by showing up and lending a hand can make a huge difference and the more people that get involved and behind something the easier it is accomplished.”

In a community colleges it’s harder to get everyone to go to an event or to even be a part of an organization. Many us of have jobs, kids, or other priorities that may make us put some extracurricular activities on the back burner; it is understandable and you are not alone.

John  Kalyondo, another HCC student, says, “I’ve attended almost all of the events that here on campus. I attend them because I want to understand what American students do out of class, how they organize the events, and see how they behave”, not just towards one another and but, “especially outsiders like myself, such as international students.”

“But there have also been times that I could not attend because of poor timing,” Kalyondo says. “Most students are in class or working so the timing ends up colliding with classes and everything else we as students have going on.”

One thing for sure is that the Senate does try to accommodate every student’s schedule when planning an event at the the campus.

“Students have a lot going on and some events may interfere with their schedule. That is why we try to schedule them at a reasonable time,” says Hope.

Some of you may have attended events that the School Senate has thrown and didn’t know the Student Senate was responsible for hosting the event.

HCC student Daniel Smillie says, “ I really just go for the free food. I never knew the names.”

Toward the end of every spring semester the Senate holds an outdoor cookout. There is fried dough, hot dogs, Italian ice, music, art, and so many more fun things.When we have guest speakers come to the school to educate us that is also the senate making our experience here fun and educational.    

Just know when you are feeling stressed about school or life and want to unwind a little check out your email and see what the Senate has going on at campus. Also stop by the Student Life Office or even the game rooms. The Senate just added a nice pool table in Beacon Hall on the third floor TV Room; go and check it out. Just don’t wipe someone out their money because that is against the rules.

You see, the Senate is here to make our time here at HCC enjoyable with monthly activities.

If you ask, then the Senate will respond.