By: Lucy Brinkman | March 5, 2020
In the past couple of weeks Student Senate has been running their annual elections, which means many of us have been stopped in the halls by a friendly face asking us to perform our student duty and cast a vote for our peers. Due to their increased presence in the halls, many of us may be wondering what does student senate actually do, and why should I bother voting? I talked with Kennan Benjamins, (Student Senate President), as well as Erica Van Hoffen (Vice President of Finance) and Jeremiah Macadam (Spiritual Activities and Services Committee Chair) and discussed all things Student Senate.
How long has Student Senate been at Redeemer?
KB: It’s been here since the very beginning. If you go to the senate office you can see a collection of constitutions and bylaws from when it was founded as a student council, with four executive positions and five general members,
Over time it has evolved, there have been different positions that have changed, positions that no longer exist like MICOS (mature international commuter and off campus student), separation of senate clubs and general clubs, and the name changed to Student Senate.
What are some of the weaknesses of Student Senate?
KB: One of our biggest issues is the constant turnover of students. I’ve been in this job for a year and I feel like I’m just getting a grasp of this position, and now I’m about to leave. And I’m speaking as someone who’s been on Student Senate for four years.
On top of this, we are students doing these jobs, not professionals. Sometimes, when young people are in positions of leadership, they can try to overcompensate for inexperience. It can be easy to lean toward fluff projects, rather than working on something concrete. We want something that is easy to point to, and so we sometimes spend less time on the long term, unseen projects.
What’s the best part about being on Student Senate?
KB: I love being able to make the role my own. Student Senate is really different from any other position or job because you truly set your own agenda. When I got to campus, I was living with a bunch of other on-campus leaders. I saw that all these other leaders are being told what to do, what meetings to organize and what to run. Whereas in this position, I have to figure out what I want to do, what meetings to call, who is supposed to be there etc. You get a form of managerial autonomy that you won’t get anywhere else.
JM: I love being able to put on events that people enjoy and helping them grow in their faith, I’ve also enjoyed growing in my practical and organizational skills
EV: I really appreciate getting to represent students and build relationships with them. It’s a cool part of my role, and I wouldn’t necessarily get to do that if I wasn’t on Student senate.
Elections are happening right now. What do you consider to be the most important traits in a student senator?
KB: It might be cliche, but they need to be a good person. I don’t care how good their policies are, if they don’t show that they’re influenced by God, they won’t be the type of leader that this school needs. Wisdom is more important than flashy ideas.
JH: I would say that an important trait of a candidate is that they are concerned and passionate that the student needs are met.
EV: Organization. I’ve seen this especially as VP of Finance. You need to stay on top of your work. Students are paying our wages and if we’re not doing our work that’s not cool.
I also think candidates need to have opinions and be able to share them. Our meetings are very collaborative, and you need to be able to discuss things, and help come up with a solution.
I hope these perspectives have informed you on Student Senate and the role they play in our school, and that you feel inspired to pop by the voting booth, grab a candy and vote for the best candidates!