What will be this year’s Student Senate legacy? 

Following the movement of classes from in-person to online, Student Senate has had to suspend general assemblies for the rest of the year, table all major discussions and resolutions, and put a hold on elections, extending everyone’s terms into next year. 

With that, it only feels appropriate to discuss the legacy of Senate now, as it seems that, just like many sports teams here as well, their season has been cut short. So, what is there to say about Student Senate this year?

Ultimately, the legacy of the 2019-20 student senate will be synonymous with the legacy of the U.S. congress over the last few years. The congress has been criticized more than a few times for worrying about their image and reputation rather than making actual change happen.

That summarizes this school year’s Senate body almost perfectly. 

Student Senate spent weeks in the limelight flipping back and forth over whether or not the Pledge of Allegiance should be included in their agenda. After weeks of news coverage, guests filling meeting galleries and switching their position over and over, nothing changed. The Pledge was in place before and it remained in place after. 

When the Lanthorn was facing national coverage over former offensive coordinator Morris Berger’s comments, Senate spent almost an hour and a half during their general assembly to argue over whether or not to make a statement of support against institutional attempts to remove those comments. Despite several senators reaching out personally, many were afraid to support a student organization. Nothing was done.

After allegations arose against former student senator Dorian Thompson, who was removed from his board position at the Michigan Federation of College Republicans due to sexual assault allegations, Student Senate stayed quiet. They refused to denounce the actions of their former senator. With a history of supporting students, it should have been easy to stand by the survivors and at the very least issue a statement supporting them.

Over the past several years, the Lanthorn has covered the campus-changing decisions that these young politicians have made, no matter how it made them look. When there are actions that support students — such as providing menstrual health products around campus free of charge — we look forward to sharing these resources with students. This is the good work that Senate has done, but it is often clouded.

But more and more each day, GVSU’s Student Senate appears to be pushing papers to uphold the guise of progress, while twiddling their thumbs when the opportunity to do something small, but impactful arises. With that, Senate has fumbled the ball on what could have been easy touchdown runs, and only to their detriment. 

Until Student Senate stops letting their PR team run their organization for them and focus on tangible legislation for their constituents, they will only distance themselves from the student body that they so desperately say they want to connect with. Both students and Student Senate deserve better.