Post Letter: OU senates can make a change for the better

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Student government, regardless of which branch, is constantly considered to be ineffective, whether it is Graduate Student Senate, the body I represent, or Student Senate.

Recently in The Post, the following comments have been made: “Student Senate is irrelevant...” and “I sat on the General Fee Committee last year, and the sitting is about the extent of what we did.” I will not lie, these comments have me aggravated and frustrated.

Therefore, I propose a change in culture of all student government at Ohio University. This change for graduate students will begin on Monday during the Graduate Student Senate general body meeting. The agenda will have a special section devoted to a conversation on how student life at this university can change for the better. This will allow Senate to have a 10-minute, at the minimum, conversation on what student government can do for the students. I believe that this conversation has always been going on; however, this will formalize that conversation.

Also, I’ve invited members of the Student Union on campus to have a meeting with me to express their concerns. I understand that these students are undergrads by majority. However, I have checked the Constitution and By-Laws of Graduate Student Senate and nowhere does it say that I can’t listen to the ideas of undergrads. Also, after a thoughtful discussion with the Student Senate President Nick Southall, we have begun conversations about initiatives that we know we can accomplish. Progress will be now judged on the policies that we can put forth, in conjunction with the university’s administration, to ensure a better lifestyle for the students of Ohio University.

I also call on the students of OU that are not directly involved in student government at this time. I ask of them: If they have a concern, come to a meeting. If they are frustrated, join student government and help with the issue. If they have burning questions, raise the issue. It is my true belief that government is only as strong as the constituents that speak up. It should not just be the students wanting to hold student government responsible. It should be the students holding themselves and student government responsible for the actions and policies on this campus.

To paraphrase Dr. Kent Smith, former vice president for student affairs, students can move mountains when they come together and realize their power. It is time that we all came together for the good of our student body. Let us formalize that strength through student government.

I speak to you today not as Graduate Student Senate President but as a Bobcat. Yes, there are concerns that concern mostly graduate students; yes, there are concerns that concern mostly undergrads, and we have two senates for that very reason. However, that does not mean we cannot work together to achieve a better lifestyle for the students of this school. This lifestyle WILL include a safer, more enjoyable and responsible campus.

Today, I make this promise: When I leave office at the end of this year, the students and the university will be better off.

Joel Newby is president of OU’s Graduate Student Senate and is a graduate student studying political science.

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