Bluffton University has dozens of student-led organizations where some of their main goals are to get first-year students involved. One such organization is the Student Senate, where students apply and are voted in to be representatives for their peers.
The President of the Student Senate is Jonah Eckert. Eckert is a junior majoring in psychology and minoring in public health.
“Last semester is the first semester that I was on the Student Senate,” Eckert said. “I wanted to do something different and to try something that was new for me.”
This is Eckert’s second semester as a member of the Student Senate, and as part of his presidential duties, he informs students of who the Student Senate is and what they do on a weekly basis.
“The Student Senate is a group of students who are a part of the [representation for students on campus],” said Eckert. “[We] get together weekly and make decisions by brainstorming thoughts and ways to make the campus better.”
Like many other student organizations, the Student Senate also plans their own activities and puts it to a vote like the United States Senate in Washington, D.C., would.
“If there is a project on campus that the Student Senate wants to work on, we get together and try to hear what the whole student organizations wants in order to make the best decisions,” Eckert said.
Some activities take place on Neufeld Lawn, where the rest of the student body can join in. Most of the time, this activity is the outdoor movie night, where students are encouraged to bring blankets to wrap themselves with as they watch the movie outside of Neufeld.
In addition to planning their own activities, other student organizations and clubs come to the Student Senate to request funding for their own activities and events.
“We let student organizations come to us for funding for activities or guest speakers,” said Eckert. “If any student organization or club wants to do an activity that will require funding, they can come to us to make their case and propose the amount that they feel would be enough. The Senate will talk about it, and come to a decision that we think is reasonable.”
In order to be involved with the Student Senate, students have to apply and go through the process of being voted in before they are full Senate members.
“We have applications that students have to fill out if they are interested in joining,” Eckert explained. “These applications have questions that students will need to answer, as well as having 30 people sign it saying that they believe that the student would be a good addition for the organization.”
“Once that is done, they can then turn in the application to me. We do a Senate election at the beginning of the school year to vote in the newest Senate members.”
If a student is late on turning in their application at the beginning of the school year, there are other efforts that can be made in order to become a Student Senate member.
“If you don’t get in before the deadline, you can come to a weekly Senate meeting, where we will ask you questions such as who you are, why you want to be a part of it and what your passions are,” Eckert said.
Along with keeping Eckert involved, the Student Senate has given him many opportunities to grow as a student and as a person.
“Joining the Student Senate has helped me to develop better and deeper relationships. I also have the chance of meeting new people,” Eckert said. “Most importantly, I learned what it’s like to lead people in a deeper and more meaningful way.”