Monday, May 19, 2008

Communication is key for next Student Senate

by Joey Rinaldi

Communication. It seems so simple, yet it’s the very concept that seems to be at the heart of the platform for each presidential candidate for Ohio University’s 2008 Student Senate.

Election results were supposed to be announced Thursday night, but a technical error in four residence halls kept students from voting between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. So in the interest of fairness, the board of elections decided to re-open the polls only to those affected halls on Tuesday the 20th between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

The candidates didn’t mind the extra four days of campaigning, although it did cause a few minor issues. Presidential candidate Mashur Rahman said his party, Action through Communication and Teamwork (ACT OU), went all out on Thursday and didn’t hold back any money for a circumstance like this one. But he understands why the board made the decision, and he says it was the right thing to do.

Presidential candidate Mashur Rahman discusses the shortcomings of the current Student Senate.

So what exactly does Student Senate do? Although many might think that Student Senate is nothing more than something for students to put on a résumé, the candidates insist that Student Senate can accomplish a lot.

For example, even though Ohio University Vice President of Student Affairs Kent Smith was leaning toward one proposed drug policy, he chose a different policy—one recommended by Student Senate. Student Senate also held a Spring Cleaning Supply Drive, which benefitted local charities like My Sister's Place and Timothy House. They also sponsored the third annual Athens Beautification Day.

But in order to do anything, they need to work to establish communication—with students and administration. Students are given the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns every Wednesday night at 7:15 during Student Speakout. But many students might not know about Student Speakout and some might be too timid to say anything.

AAA (Ability And Accountability) presidential candidate Michael Adeyanju says, “You're holding yourself accountable for what you say you're going to do for the students, you're holding your Student Senate accountable so they make sure you're operating efficiently and effectively and you're holding administrators accountable so that they're making decisions that's in the best interest of the student body.”

Student Senate presidential candidate Michael Adeyanju talks about the importance of communication for accountability.

Both candidates expressed disappointment in the current Senate for not communicating enough with their constituents or informing the campus what Student Senate was working on very often. Rahman added that there is money set aside for Senate to make informational party posters and that the current Senate did not make use of it. “When I was a freshman here, Senators used to send out weekly e-mails about what they were working on. There were party posters almost monthly. This Senate hardly even updates their website,” he said in reference to the fact that Senate meeting minutes have not been updated online since the fall.

Both Rahman and Adeyanju believe that getting students to communicate more frequently with student senate is key. Adeyanju says finding out which issues are important to students is one of Senate’s most important duties. “If we know what the problem is, then we can come up with a plan and present it to the administration. That’s the only way we can get anything done.”

A third candidate, Will Klatt of the Birthday Party, is also running for president. He was unavailable for an interview. To see a streaming debate among all the candidates, click here.

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