Get to know Undergraduate Student Senate

Will Schertz

USS senators represent students needs, interests in university

They work with fervor behind the scenes at Kent State, continually trying to make the university a better place for students.

They have a hand in policy making and serve on various committees at the university, yet generally remain unseen, hidden in the shadows of their own work.

They are not faculty or staff, but rather they are other students.

They are the Undergraduate Student Senate.

While they are not trying to paint themselves as the unsung heroes of Kent State, the USS is beginning an image improvement campaign to make itself known, said Executive Director Bill Ross.

“Our purpose is to provide student representation on campus and to be an advocate of the student body at the state and federal level,” Ross said. “I think the students should know we’re here.”

The image improvement campaign is part of the Senate’s priorities for this year, the priority list on its Web site also includes policy review, by-law changes and the creation of a new senate committee handbook.

Ross said that while the senate does not have direct control over policy making at the university, administration is normally very open to their point of view.

“We have more indirect, but semi-extensive power,” he said.

One of the senate’s most prominent responsibilities is to facilitate student organizations.

“We are very fortunate to have a very diverse student body, and the student organizations that reflect the diversity of Kent State University are available to all students,” said Kevin Folk, senator of business and finance.

Folk is also the chair person of the Allocations Committee, which helps to connect student organizations to funds for campus events and activities.

The senate has recently looked into connecting students to other leadership positions at the university, something that begins with the newly created Student Leadership Development Board, headed by Student Advancement Senator Preston Mitchum.

“My number one goal for this year is to work with the Student Leadership Development Board to help bring other student leaders into the university,” Mitchum said.

Mitchum said the purpose of the board is to appoint people from various organizations on campus and have them work together to attract other leaders through workshops.

Folk, Mitchum and Ross all said they encourage anyone who wishes to be a part of USS to get involved by coming to meetings and talking to the other senators.

“If you want to get involved talk to one of us,” Mitchum said. “We’re all approachable, we all love to talk, and we all love to meet new people.”

Ross said weekly public meetings are held at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesdays in the Governance Chambers in the Student Center. The USS office is located on the first floor of the Student Center.

USS also offers several opportunities to be involved with the senate such as committee positions, participating in the judicial advocates program, joining the all-university hearing board and helping with voter registration drives.

Of course there is also the opportunity to run for senate as well, but Ross said students should make sure they know it’s something they want first.

“Some people get involved not knowing what the job entails,” he said, pointing out that being on senate requires a lot of commitment. “Come to a meeting and see if it’s something you’d like.”

Contact general assignment reporter Will Schertz at [email protected].