All Senate positions filled

For the first time in seven years, Carnegie Mellon’s Student Senate is full.

As of Nov. 15, all 38 seats are occupied by students representing all undergraduate colleges and programs: Tepper School of Business (4), College of Humanities & Social Sciences (7), Carnegie Institute of Technology (10), College of Fine Arts (6), Mellon College of Science (5), School of Computer Science (4), and combined Bachelor of Humanities and Arts, Bachelor of Science and Arts, and Science and Humanities Scholars programs (2).

“I am proud because this is the first time in seven years that all of the seats have been occupied. With a full Senate, we can better represent the interests of the full student body,” said Jared Itkowitz, a junior business administration major and Senate Chair.

In addition, Senate will now be able to fulfill all its duties and accomplish more work in a smaller amount of time, Itkowitz said.

Last year the membership varied from 32 to 36, with MCS and CFA seats often staying vacant, according to Itkowitz.

“This year for the vacancy election in MCS, 12 people applied for just two spots. This kind of interest from the students in that college is simply fantastic,” Itkowitz said.

Student Senate plays a large role in student life on campus. One of its main duties is to work with the Joint Funding Committee on special allocation funding for student organizations.

Itkowitz noted that a full senate allows for more efficiency in campus change, specifically in three main areas — campus life, which includes issues such as smoking policy and public art; academic affairs, which concerns the creation of new programs and improvement of the library; and business affairs, which deals with all monetary transactions that students make.

However, despite its recent success, members of the student body are still not sure what exactly Student Senate does.

“I had no idea that all of the seats were filled recently. In fact, I do not know much about the workings of the Senate,” said Rajeev Krithivasan, a first-year electrical and computer engineering major.

Itkowitz is aware of this problem.

“This year we are trying to increase transparency in the Senate. In fact, [Student Body Vice President] Adi Jain and I have just set up a Student Government Visibility Committee,” Itkowitz said.

Jain, a senior electrical and computer engineering and business administration major, has high hopes for the committee.

“This committee will oversee an overhaul in publicity, an increase in student communication, and we will make a better attempt to be seen at the events that we organize,” Jain said.

“We want to represent each and every student as well as possible, and for this there needs to be better communication,” Itkowitz said.

All students are encouraged to let their senators know of any concerns or suggestions that they might have.

“If more students are involved, better things will get done faster,” Itkowitz said.

Jain and Student Body President Sean Weinstock have made a commitment to increasing communication between students and the Senate in their CMU 5 plan.

Jain encourages more students to come forward with their suggestions for improvement.

In addition to opening the lines of communication, Itkowitz and Jain are also looking for ways to increase Student Senate visibility on campus.

“Student government wants people to want to be on the Senate instead of simply attend meetings,” Itkowitz said. “And that’s why we are asking our senators to be more visible to the student population.”

Itkowitz is optimistic about the continued success of Student Senate.

“With the Senate environment changing, the signs for the future are really encouraging,” Itkowitz said.