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Six newly appointed students have assumed various roles in Student Senate. Elections were held by the screening committee in an attempt to fill a number of vacant positions. Student Senate announced the new members at their general meeting on Oct. 11.

Roshan Gautam now holds one of the three Junior Senator seats, alongside Tasha Abraham serving as one of the three Senior Senators. The remaining four individuals were elected as At-Large Senators, each representing a specific student demographic. Specifically in the At-Large Transfer Senator position is Riley Cavider, whereas the At-Large Commuter Senators are Hannah Williamson and Prashant Bhatta. Lastly, the final At-Large Commuter seat was filled by Nolan Lebamoff.

While each new member’s motivation for applying differs, the group was selected for their ideas on how to connect with their potential constituents and their previous experiences with student organizations.

“I was also involved in many organizations in my high school and there was a similar organization in my high school where we had a committee for students where we would advocate for the betterment of things for students,” said Bhatta.

Motivated by making an impact, new senators initially applied for the open positions via a campus-wide email from Student Senate. For Gautam, that impact lies in finding solutions to problems on campus. 

“If we could put up things to concerned authorities and they could act on that, then that would be the greatest thing for me and for people to be happy about the solution, that’s the only thing I care about,” said Gautam.

Senators speaking on behalf of a specific demographic of students shared the impact they could make for their constituents and recognized the challenges of being part of that group.

“I feel like commuters do need representation, I’m a commuter,” said Williamson. “We do have kind of a special set of needs, as a commuting student I’m kind of limited in how many things I can be involved in, so when I looked at my options I really wanted something where I could make a difference and feel that I’m doing something for my fellow students.”

Another At-Large Commuter Senator detailed issues and potential solutions for the problems that commuter students face daily.

“For my position, I would like to reach out to all the commuters and see if they have any issues. I’m still exploring what we can do for commuters. There is no specified place for commuters on campus,” Bhatta said.

Transfer students also gained a representative on Student Senate.

“Standing up for people that have transferred here and giving them equal opportunities that people who haven’t transferred here, who have been here their entire endeavor in college have,” Cavinder said.

After candidates filled out the application for open positions, Student Senate’s screening committee held interviews. Then the committee’s selections were brought to a vote at the general assembly meeting where all members of Student Senate approved them.

The new senators have goals they will work to achieve in the duration of their time on Student Senate, such as finding more ways to involve commuters with campus activities.

“I don’t see them [commuter students] being involved that much in activities on-campus, so I’d like to see them involved in more mainstream activities on-campus, that is my primary goal. I’m still learning and seeing whatever I can do for commuters,” Bhatta said.

For commuter students and residential students alike, Williamson has recognized the connections between concerns.

“I’m hoping to be able to continue connecting with other commuters and understand what everyone’s needs are and present those to the Student Senate. I believe we’re a 90% residential campus, so those of us who live off campus sometimes can feel left out of what’s going on on-campus. I’m hoping that we can feel more involved,” Williamson said. “I feel like there’s a crossover of things that affect everybody and things that affect commuters.”

Additionally, the At-Large Transfer Senator has expressed goals that parallel those of the At-Large Commuter Senators.

“I think it’s also important for transfer students to understand the events, and everything that’s held,” Cavinder said. “They are still welcome to come to everything.”

Goals that affect the entire student body were stated by the new Junior Senator.

“I’m really looking forward to helping students that have concerns about anything, I have office hours. I would just help to get those concerns from their side and take them to concerned authorities and help to see the problems from both sides and resolve those problems,” Gautam said.

Two seats on Student Senate, the At-Large College of Nursing and Health Professions Senators, remain vacant. Students interested in applying for these positions should contact the screening committee via email, senate.screening@valpo.edu.

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