Next year’s Student Senate is officially just another on-campus club.
With only 10% of the student body even voting, the new Student Senate has as much of a mandate to govern as the chess club. Crimson+Blue running unopposed is the latest and most egregious symptom of our unhealthy campus political system.
Student Senate’s overregulation of elections has made it impossibly difficult for an independent coalition without a few Senate insiders or the backing of the University's Greek life. The rules restricting on campus campaigning unfairly restrict independents and non-Greek coalitions from spreading their message to the student body while sororities and fraternities don’t have nearly the same amount of restrictions.
One example of how Student Senate discourages student involvement is the Senate office in the Kansas Union. As an experiment, before the election I walked into the office and asked the front desk, “Where do I go to learn about elections?” The response from the front desk was, “I can’t answer that.” I then asked, “Is there a website I could look at or an email account?” and the response was, “I can’t answer any question about elections at all.” Unsurprisingly, only one coalition ran a few months later.
Student Senate’s exclusionary tactics have led to an uncontested election that devastated student participation by 70%. This “election” was so uninspiring that transit of all things was the dominant issue, not the rampant gentrification of on-campus housing facilitated by a complacent Association of University Residence Halls, not tuition hikes or sexual assault, but parking became the biggest issue.
We need a Student Senate that is not afraid to push the boundaries of what students can influence. We need a Senate that will fight for what’s right even if they are told students can’t affect policy.
This Senate is not the Senate we need.
Wesley Cudney is a freshman from Wichita studying political science and journalism.