Figurehead Senate
The Student Senate lacking effectiveness and decisiveness
Most students have heard about the Student Senate, a student group with obscure powers and a vague agenda which meets twice a month to discuss the fate of Texas A&M students. Despite their suits and $96,000 annual budget, the senate is merely a figurehead.

The Student Senate presents itself as a representative body. The claim sounds nice, but it's actually misleading.

Student Senators are elected by thousands of students, but by the end of the senate session last Spring, fifty percent of the senators had been replaced by appointed students.

Occasionally a student senator will discuss the mandate they received when elected, but most senators do not campaign on their views or policies. Senate campaign fliers only list the student's name, ballot position and maybe a nice graphic.

In the last election, Dave Brown drew the top ballot spot in the campaign for Northside Senate. Brown posted one flier and was swept into office. Elections where policy has such little influence do not make Student Senate a representative body.

The group can only be considered representative if each senator rigorously sought the views of their constituents and acted upon the information. Unfortunately, senators rarely seek student opinion, and when they do know student viewpoints, they often ignore them.

Most of us are familiar with the Yell Leader Run-Off debate which plagued the senate last semester. Even though an overwhelming number of students supported holding Yell Leader Run-Off elections, many Student Senators boldly proclaimed their constituents' opinions invalid.

Senators do hold a "Constituency Day" once a semester when they ask students at the MSC breezeway to fill out opinion surveys, but this event is more symbolism than substance.

Even if they were truly concerned with student views, the Student Senate can effect no real change. They rarely do anything of importance (except endorse fee increases). The University's constitution gives the senate no power over the administration. The group can only propose or endorse policies.

Last Fall, the Student Senate entertained a non-controversial, well-researched bill, and still fell well short of their goal.

The Winter Spirit of Aggieland bill was presented at the November 6, senate meeting and called for the Corps, Physical Plant, Student Government and several other organizations to develop a policy which would bring "festive lights" to the A&M campus.

Once the bill was passed and the full force of the Student Senate was behind the project, corporate funding and donations were secured and the University purchased lights and decorations to place around campus.

Senators assure the ornamentation was there, but even they admit it was less than spectacular.

A large Christmas tree was donated for placement at the main entrance of A&M. Student Government was expected to transport the tree from Orange, Texas to campus and oversee its decoration. This project completely fell apart, and somewhere there must be a tree filling a dump in Orange right now.

Even when the Student Senate tries to do something useful, they are terribly inadequate. Despite several attempts to increase efficiency, it evidently takes over a year to accomplish anything through Student Government. The group has failed to serve the students who put them in office. Student Government's budget comes from our Student Service Fee, maybe some accountability is in order.