Student Senate reaches out to academic departments for projects

Edvan Benitez opens the Student Senate meeting with worship and prayer. This was the Senate's first
meeting of the semester. Tuesday, January 18, 2022. (Photo by: Maiya Banks)
Edvan Benitez opens the Student Senate meeting with worship and prayer. This was the Senate's first meeting of the semester. Tuesday, January 18, 2022. (Photo by: Maiya Banks)

In a news tip to the Accent, a professor commented that he noticed that the Student Senate has been more involved with campus departments this year compared to previous school years. Student Association (SA) Executive Vice President Kenneth Bautista, who heads the Student Senate, explained the measures senators have used to get more involved with Southern’s academic departments. 

“This year, the Senate Leadership Team went to as many departments as we could contact in the beginning of the year to look for things they needed,” Bautista said. “This gave us more opportunities to find out areas of needs. It streamlined the project process for senators and allowed them to easily take on a project and complete it. From the idea stage, senators would do the leg work in coordinating [with] the department deans or professors and create a proposal to give to Senate as a whole.” 

Bautista said this process has enabled the Student Senate to have a greater impact on campus. 

“This process is completely different from years past when senators had to find the projects or come up with ideas,” Bautista said. “Now, [senators] can look at a list of potential ideas or come up with their own. The list of potential ideas has allowed us to be the most effective Senate in recent years.” 

So far, Bautista said that the Student Senate has completed nine projects in the past semester. “Our budget is like $14,000; and so, so far, first semester alone, we spent $10,500 pretty much.” Bautista said. 

In one of their first projects, Student Senate helped five student businesses by giving them $200 in order to help them get started. This project was called Lift-Off Initiative, and the Student Senate used $1,000. One of the students that the Senate helped with their Lift-Off Initiative was Colette Williams. 

“I had a small business called Colette’s Creations back home … and I made vegan desserts for people and my community,” Williams said. “They would place orders through my website or my Instagram, and I had a kitchen there and all my ingredients and my pots and pans and things like that. And then coming to Southern, I wanted to continue my business, but it was hard because I was lacking the inventory I had back home … and vegan ingredients can be a little bit more pricey. And so I saw this Lift-Off Initiative, and I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to hopefully use this money to help my business. So, I had an interview, and they were able to give me $200.”

Williams said she bought more inventory with the money she received from the initiative.

Another project that the Senate did was buying 106 Bibles for the Office of Ministry and Missions so that students could have a Bible if they needed one. The Senate also bought an ice-cream machine for CK2. 

Senate helped form a music recording studio in the Music Department so that students can go there to produce music. 

“There is a little room that they turned into a music studio, so they have like a recording thing, they have speakers, they have a keyboard, they have mics…” Bautista said. 

The Senate also provided Hackman Hall, which houses the School of Religion, a TV so that announcements and advertisements could be displayed in the building. During Spirit Week, the Senate gave away prizes, including Amazon gift cards, AirPods and an iPad. 

Senate has also helped the School of Journalism and Communication with a TV on a cart for using in multiple classrooms and for SAU News. 

Another project is Thatcher lights. 

“Right outside Thatcher it can get pretty dark at night and it can be a little scary especially with those bushes and stuff,” Bautista said. “And so, we paid for the installation cost for Plant Services to install new lights.”

Currently the Senate is working on Eco-Initiative, and there will be a booth coming this semester. 

“It’s gonna kinda support being eco-friendly, like helping the environment and what students can do to do that,” Bautista said. 

In addition to that, the Senate is looking into the possibility of getting paper bags for the Village Market. 

Other upcoming projects include helping the School of Education and Psychology with more supplies and funding for more tents and stoves for the Biology Department so that students can use them on field trips. 

Bautista said, “I just kinda want students to know that Senate is here, and what we’re here for is just for other students… My goal coming in this year was to spend as much money as possible, because it;s for our students… [What] I want people to know is if they have any concerns, any issues, that Senate is here.” 

Students can find more information about Senate on its Instagram page, senatesau.

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