“All in favor of adjourning? Any opposed? Any abstaining? Motion has carried.” With these words, and the fall of AUSA Executive Vice President Jessica Yoong’s (senior, business) gavel, the end of the last official meeting of AUSA Senate was signified. As elected officers, AUSA Senators hold the responsibility of representing students’ needs and desires. As we look back on the school year, one may ask: What did Senate accomplish this year? The following is an overview of Senate’s various accomplishments throughout the school year.
Throughout both semesters, the AUSA Senators met on Mondays at 8 p.m. in the Leadership Lab for weekly Senate meetings. As Senators are responsible (as delineated in the AUSA Bylaws) to work on at least one individual initiative project throughout the school year, Senators were also required to meet with Yoong to discuss their project ideas and how they intended to turn their ideas into action. Throughout the fall semester, various Senators gave updates on their Senate projects through weekly video updates via the AUSA YouTube channel and social media.
Also, throughout the school year, five AUSA Senate Committees—the Rules & Affairs Committee, the Service Gala Committee, the Finance Committee, the Public Relations Committee, and the Social Committee—met weekly. The Rules & Affairs Committee was tasked with updating the AUSA Bylaws and ensuring the efficiency of Senate and AUSA affairs in legislative writing. The Service Gala Committee oversaw the planning and execution of February’s Service Gala. The Finance Committee’s responsibilities included oversight of AUSA financial affairs, the passing of a preliminary budget for the 2017-2018 school year, and reviewing submissions for AUSA Spirit Grants. The Public Relations Committee and Social Committees were tasked with communicating with Andrews’ undergraduate student body about AUSA events and responding to student feedback.
This year, AUSA Senate granted a total of 16 Spirit Grants to various student organizations and student projects. Senate is granted limited funding from the AUSA budget to sponsor or financially assist projects which enhance spirituality, unity, diversity, justice, service, and innovation at Andrews University; these grants are entitled Spirit Grants, and available after review and approval by a majority vote of the Senate body.
Several of the organizations and projects that received Spirit Grants include the Engineers Without Borders Lighting Lives 5K Fundraiser, AU Enactus’ Operation Regenesis to provide medical care for marginalized women in Nicaragua, and the AU Chemistry Club to subsidize materials for use at community events which introduce young people to the wonders of chemistry.
AUSA Senate’s first event was the Senate Soup Night in the Campus Center. The Senators served free soup, salad, breadsticks and dessert to about 400 students, and was considered by many to be a huge success. A second Senate Soup Night was held recently, on Wednesday, April 19.
Jesse Snelling (junior, mathematics, physics), who attended both Senate Soup Nights, said, “Free food over good conversation is always nice.”
Next, on Nov. 8, Senate hosted an Election Watch Party in the Recreation Center to watch the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections. About 150 students were in attendance.
During the spring semester, AUSA Senate’s main event was the AUSA Service Gala. This year’s gala was the second annual Service Gala. The Service Gala was a two-part event; the first part featured a series of student speakers in the Howard Performing Arts Center presenting their efforts in various avenues of service, and the second was a black-tie, red carpet reception during which AU UNICEF facilitated a silent auction fundraiser to raise funds for donation to UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.
Cassie Hales (junior, marketing), who attending the Service Gala, said, “It was both encouraging and exciting to see so many active organizations dedicated to service on our university's campus. I was eager to get involved and actually have been on an outing with one of the groups! Getting all dressed up made the occasion feel all the more special."
The AUSA Service Gala event was free and open to the community. Roughly 400 people were in attendance that evening and about $1300 was raised for UNICEF donation this year, more than twice the amount that was raised last year.
D’Shauna Edwards (sophomore, biotechnology, pre-medicine) said, “As a UNICEF Events Committee Member, I had the opportunity to help plan and set up for the AU Service Gala. It was a great opportunity to learn and get involved in the various service initiatives on campus. Because of this event, I have decided to take an active role in the AU UNICEF Club as the one of the Events Officers for next year.”
Also during the spring semester, AUSA Senator Isabelle Hwang (sophomore, biology, pre-medicine) kicked off the spring semester with her Food Waste Awareness Trayless Challenge project. The Food Waste Awareness Week was supported by the J.N. Honors Program and AUSA Senate to educate and facilitate discussion about how to reduce waste of the food that goes into our trash.
Over Spring Break, AUSA Senators Heaven Shin (junior, integrated science secondary education) and Chelcie Coleman (junior, elementary education, French for teaching: K-12) facilitated an international cooking night for international students and other who were still on campus. Shin and Coleman organized the event to be a time for students to cook together and prepare various international dishes for a night of delicious food and fellowship.
Other projects that Senators worked on this year included the soon-to-come installation of a water bottle filling station in Meier Hall, research into a vending machine in the Science Complex, new biology dissection kits, and groundwork for an Andrews University app and a Feeding Children Everywhere food-packing event.
Senators Linda Mosheti (junior, public health behavioral science), Ivette Ruban (sophomore, speech language pathology & audiology), and Kumar Balasingam (junior, electrical engineering) organized a Senate-facilitated Garage Sale in the Rec Center on April 21 for students to come and sell items that they no longer needed or to buy items at a low price.
Raier Rada (freshman, architecture), who attended the Garage Sale, said, “I had a lot of fun seeing all the things people were selling. I definitely want to sell stuff next year, if they choose to do this again.”
Yoong thanked this year’s AUSA Senate leadership team, including Parliamentarian Katie Starkey (senior, agribusiness), Senator-at-Large Gideon Moyo (junior, electrical engineering), and Associate Secretary Winter Smith (junior, business administration, pre-medicine), as well as each of the AUSA Senators for their ideas and hard work throughout the school year.
Yoong said, “When we work together to create positive change, we can turn ideas into reality.”
If you are interested in serving as an AUSA Senator during the 2017-2018 school year, note that elections will be held in the fall. You have the potential to create positive change!