Senators of the Associated Student Body hosted a “Meet Your Senator Night” to engage students with conversation and pizza on Tuesday, Feb. 6, on the second floor of The Gertrude C. Ford Student Union.
One of the best-known ASB traditions, the event aims to create an open space and allow students to meet with senators through casual conversations. Over time, the ASB senate has made several adjustments to create a more welcoming atmosphere.
ASB Vice President Mason Greenwald, a senior political science and economics major, commented on how the event has improved since his freshman year.
“During my freshman year, there wasn’t even food,” Greenwald said. “You would walk into the senate chambers and people would talk to each other, but it was still in a closed-off space, so we brought it into an open space. I’m glad that we changed the narrative around the event because it’s actually working, and we’re actually meeting people.”
These changes have significantly increased turnout. Greenwald estimated that about 40 students stopped by the come-and-go event to grab a slice of pizza and learn more about the people involved in ASB.
Senior Olivia Young, an integrated marketing and communications major, engaged with senators and left the event feeling more welcomed by them.
“I think it takes them off this pedestal that we have them on in our minds,” Young said. “Having it out in the open and them wearing casual attire really does make them more approachable and more welcoming.”
Although ASB’s top priority is students’ well-being, many are intimidated and reluctant to reach out to senators.
Senator-At-Large A’Davion Bush, a freshman political science major, noted the hesitation some students have when talking with ASB senators.
“We don’t have people who are willing to express issues, and that’s simply because of the stigma we have on the ASB Senate that we’re not approachable,” Bush said.
Young shared the same sentiment.
“I think it’s intimidating for students, especially freshmen, to go and talk to someone as a senator,” Young said. “The word ‘senator’ has so many implications, and you just know that person is important.”
The event strengthened not only the bond between students and senators, but also the connection between senators within ASB.
Senator-At-Large Keerthin Karthikeyan, a freshman public policy leadership and international studies major, believed the event helped him to better understand his own position as a student leader.
“Senator is just simply, to me, a title,” Karthikeyan said. “It’s just a title that says you’re representing a group of people, but it doesn’t mean you’re better than that group of people. We’re all doing the same classes, trying to make the same grades, meet new people, make new friends and have fun.”
Greenwald also commented on the socialization between senators.
“I think senators socializing with each other is really important, because that’s where ideas are formed,” Greenwald said. “That’s where these relationships are, and you’re able to work together and produce good things and team together better.”