Around 80 students attended the Associated Student Body (ASB) senate’s Meet Your Senator Night on Tuesday to discuss how the ASB senate serves their interests.
ASB Vice President Charlotte Shackelford, who organized the event, ran her campaign platform last spring on redefining the way ASB connects with the student body.
“I’m so excited that everyone has the opportunity to meet their ASB senator, get to know them and get to tell them the things that they always wish they could say,” Shackelford said.
Shackelford said that she has prioritized communication between the ASB senate and the student body this school year and set up a form on the ASB website called “submit your opinion,” where students can use their university emails to contact their senators.
“I’ve upset senators before, and I’ve upset people in my cabinet, but any time I think students aren’t going to get enough (of a) chance to know about something that we’re voting on, I make the decision that we’re not doing it,” Shackelford said.
Meet Your Senator Night is the first event this year that ASB has hosted specifically for students to meet and speak with their representatives, though ASB holds similar events during ASB Kick Off Week at the beginning of the school year for new students to learn about student government.
Leah Jackson, a junior integrated marketing and communications major, came to the event to speak to the ASB senator for the School of Journalism and New Media, Anna Hall. Jackson said that she checks in with ASB regularly to stay up to date with leadership of student organizations.
“I like having a relationship with them so that if I ever need anything or have questions, I know who to go to,” Jackson said.
Hall said most of her constituents who came to the event asked her general questions about her role in ASB. She also noted that most students who have concerns about issues on campus during the semester bring them to her personally.
“I think when people have issues that they care about, they’ll reach out to us more and use us as a resource, especially if they get us in settings like this where we really are open their feedback,” Hall said.
ASB cultural/multicultural senator Chelsea Boone said her constituents don’t usually reach out to her outside of events like Meet Your Senator Night, and most of her interactions with her constituency come from her reaching out to students first.
“I know, a lot of the time, we put it on the responsibility of other students to learn about what we’re doing, so we probably need to work on our communication more,” Boone said.
Dean of Students Brent Marsh was in attendance, as well. He said most of the student body doesn’t know much about what ASB does for them and their campus, but he thinks events like this will help them to connect with student government.
“I think the reality with ASB is that they do so much great work behind the scenes to make improvements to the student experience, and I think it’s great that ASB is trying to get more students to understand what they do and engage with the process,” Marsh said.
ASB graduate assistant Kendrick Wallace said most of ASB’s communication with students comes through social media.
“I think we’re kind of moving to a place where social media is a good place to meet students where they are,” Wallace said. “That’s one of the things they say in higher education; ‘Meet them where they are,’ and they’re online most of the time.”
Shackelford said that she has left behind material for future ASB leaders to run events like Meet Your Senator Night.
“I don’t want people to always expect (students) to have to come to us,” Shackelford said.I want us to be going to them.”