Student Union senators implement personal projects to increase accountability
All Student Union senators will undertake individual projects this semester as part of SU’s initiative to ensure accountability.
Junior and Speaker of the Senate Brian Adler introduced this initiative after noticing that the Senate’s task force structure wasn’t producing tangible resolutions.
“One of the problems with just the task force model is that we didn’t really have motivated senators because they weren’t working on something that they personally cared about,” Adler said. “A specific goal was lacking in many cases.”
Adler believes that tying senators to specific, self-directed projects will create a more productive body.
“People picked things that they were motivated to do,” Adler said. “And so now we actually have these projects that are coming to fruition because they’re things that senators actually care about.”
Many senators are already making progress on their initiatives. For instance, freshman Senator Nathan Card collaborated with Campus Card Services to lower the minimum deposit amount for Bear Bucks.
“It’s a small change. It’s not going to have a huge effect, but it’s something” Card said. “And I’m glad to be doing something.”
Another project by freshman Senator Sophie Scott and Alex Baker, a freshman, maps printer locations on campus. Scott and Baker created a website and are working to integrate their project into the WUSTL app.
“We’ve made a lot of progress pretty quickly,” Scott said. “We’re really happy about where we are right now and hope that it’s done in two weeks.”
Freshman and Senator Mia Hamernik is working toward increasing accessibility to gender-neutral bathrooms. While the project is still in its early stages, much of the planning has been completed.
“I’m excited to say that I now have a solid foundation to really get into the nitty-gritty details of my project.” she said.
Hamernik hopes the project will provide an idea of what steps will be taken going forward in renovations, as well as raise awareness that more gender-neutral bathrooms are being constructed.
“My vision of the final product of this project would include clarifying if gender neutral bathrooms are in the plans for [Washington University’s] newest buildings along with scheduled renovations,” Hamernik said. “Another thing I’d like to accomplish is creating a map or database of some sort that documents where each gender-neutral bathroom is located within [the University].”
Freshmen senators Tyrin Truong and Charlotte Pohl are working to get water fountains on every floor of every dorm.
“Charlotte was emailing someone from [Residential Life], and we have a meeting coming up later this week,” Truong said.
Truong is also working on splitting the Senate Outreach Committee to highlight its dual function of advocating to the administration on behalf of students and handling Senate public relations with the student body.
“I feel like currently outreach isn’t able to do both effectively because Senate isn’t in such a good place right now. We’re spending most of our time outreaching to students, but we haven’t been able to properly allocate enough time to advocate for students to [the] administration,” Truong said.
The initiative is part of a greater focus on internal Senate accountability in SU. Adler hopes that the changes at the organizational level will make the responsibilities of everyone involved clearer.
“I think it’s sort of on us, the Senate leadership, to make sure we are making it clear what our expectations are—and those expectations haven’t always been clear in the past,” Adler said. “It also means that we have the responsibility to have clear paths for people to do what they’re supposed to do.”
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Alex Baker is not a senator.