It’s the beginning of the second semester. Students have finished their first week of classes and are beginning to settle into their schedules. The start of a new semester, serves, in addition to a time for new beginnings, as a time for accountability. Students can not only hold themselves accountable for higher GPAs and new personal goals, but they can hold their Andrews University Student Association (AUSA) Senators accountable for making the changes they want to see at Andrews. So, what is the AUSA Senate up to?
First, for those unfamiliar with the AUSA Senate, it is a group of students that constitute the legislative body of AUSA, serving a role similar to that of Congress in representing the undergraduate student body’s interests. Every Monday night at 8 p.m., the AUSA Senators gather in the Leadership Lab to perform their representative duties.
Such responsibilities include overseeing legislative changes to the AUSA Constitution and Bylaws, approving the annual AUSA budget once each fiscal year, and allocating $10,000 to various student organizations over the course of the academic year through Spirit Grant proposals. Additionally, AUSA Senators are required to pursue a project in teams or individually, making changes which students wish to see enacted across campus.
In addition to the aforementioned responsibilities and their project, AUSA Senators are required to sit on one of five standing committees: the Rules & Affairs Committee, Public Relations Committee, Service Gala Committee, Finance Committee or Social Committee. Each committee is to meet weekly, and senators’ roles on these committees are also intended to serve the betterment of the AUSA undergraduate student body.
Jessica Yoong (junior, business administration, pre-medicine), AUSA Executive Vice President, chairs all meetings and coordinates Senate events. She is assisted by Katie Starkey (senior, agriculture), Senate Parliamentarian; Gideon Moyo (junior, electrical engineering), Senator-At-Large; Winter Smith (junior, finance), Senate Secretary; and the respective committee chairs involved in AUSA Senate.
Thus far this academic year, AUSA Senate has hosted a variety of events for undergraduate students. AUSA Senate-hosted events have included the Election Watch Party and Senate Soup Night.
Yoong has made a commitment to engage with the 20 AUSA Senators to ensure that they are following through with plans for their “Senator Initiative Projects.” So far, Yoong has met individually with almost all of the Senators to assist in project brainstorming, and has followed up with other senators who are further along in seeing their projects to fruition.
Autumn Goodman (freshman, photography), a Senator, is working with fellow senator Leah Wooten (freshman, international business) on a very interesting project. According to Goodman, it is an “AU Uber type of project” where students can create a system for providing transportation and jobs for other students on campus.
Goodman said, “Coming to a new area like Berrien Springs, we wanted to be given the opportunity to see what is near our town, like malls, art museums and fun places to visit as well as grocery shops and restaurants. We thought that a system like Uber would be beneficial to students young and old here at AU, because it provide others the opportunity to help others, as well as benefit financially from it.”
While other Senators are considering creating a Andrews University Dining Services app, others are working to get vending machines in the Science Complex.
On Sunday, Feb. 26, at 6 p.m., the AUSA Senate Service Gala will take place in the Howard Performing Arts Center. Since students represented quite positively to last year’s Service Gala, the first of its kind, AUSA Senate decided to plan another Service Gala this year. The Service Gala, like last year’s, will feature student speakers and a formal reception in the HPAC lobby. The AUSA Senate will also be partnering with AU UNICEF for another silent auction for charity.
Yoong said, “The purpose of the Service Gala is to premiere student-led service organizations and experiences with the intention of inspiring and connecting students with opportunities to serve.”
As for Spirit Grants, AUSA Senate has already allocated $4,856 of its $10,000 budget towards student organizations and Senator Initiative Projects, including a $1,500 allocation for Enactus’ mission-oriented project in Central America, $750 to Operation Student Care, $750 to the Chemistry Club to facilitate the purchase of a liquid nitrogen ice cream machine, and $272 for Senator Isabelle Hwang’s upcoming Food Waste Awareness Week.
To learn more about what Senate is doing for students, check out the AUSA YouTube channel at YouTube.com/watchAUSA for weekly Senate updates.