Don’t think USS matters? Read this.


That’s how many students officially represent the entire undergraduate student body at Kent State – which totaled 28,981 students in Fall 2006.

Nine. That’s about 0.03 percent of the undergraduate body.

These students are responsible for the “common betterment and general welfare” of students and deciding what exactly that means. They are supposed to determine student opinion on campus and represent that to the administration, the faculty, the Kent community and local and state governments. They control and dole out a large portion of the money collected by student activity fees – fees paid for by each student at Kent State.

They make up the Undergraduate Student Senate.

And most students have no idea what they do, let alone who they are.

They might see the colorful posters with catchy slogans tacked to bulletin boards every March. Maybe they see the students walking briskly across campus in business casual wear. How many could even point newcomers in the direction of the USS offices in the Student Center?

Yet, the undergraduates vote for these students to represent them through an annual election, which will take place on March 14 this year on Web for Students. Last year, the Daily Kent Stater reported that 1,826 students voted in the election. The year before, only 1,183 voted – less than 10 percent of students, both years.

The executive director of USS tells the president of the university what is important to students. The senators for community and governmental affairs act as go-betweens for the local, state and federal governmental bodies, downtown businesses and the community of the city of Kent for the undergraduates. Academic affairs helps the student body be represented to larger faculty groups, such as the Faculty Senate, as opposed to being limited to face-to-face interactions between individual professors and students.

The senator for business and finance is in charge of the Allocation Committee, which delegates out funds to all student organizations – $215,748 this year. Any time an organization wants money to go to a conference, bring in a speaker or hold a concert, they visit the Allocation Committee and ask for funding. Essentially, most of the extracurricular events for students on campus go through USS.

Those issues, only a sampling of the responsibilities held by the senators, affect a whole lot more than 10 percent of students.

USS has plenty of provisions to let students’ voices be heard. Its charter, created 32 years ago yesterday and amended numerous times since, requires the senate to be open and available to students. USS meetings must be open to the public and have time set aside at the beginning to allow for non-members to address the senate with any concerns. If a senator is not doing his or her job, students can petition for a re-election.

So, if you’re an undergraduate student at Kent State, make the senators live up to their job descriptions. Read up on this year’s candidates, sign on to Web for Students on March 14 and vote for the ones that represent you, your friends and your classmates. Democracy in action.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.