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Understanding the University Senate

By Ben Suazo, Assistant News Editor

This week William F. Nirode, Chair of the Senate Executive Committee, sent out an email notifying students to participate in the University Senate elections. Nirode's email aimed to give more information about this organization and to show how it differs from SGA, and in doing so prepared students to vote for student members of the Student Affairs Committee.

Caroline Schreiner had some answers on behalf of the University Senate office, which can be found on the third floor of Axinn Library, room 310.

"It's a body to make recommendations," Schreiner said of the University Senate. "Anything passed by the senate has to be passed by the full faculty, and anything passed by the full faculty has to be approved by the Provost, legal counsel and the President. Once the President passes it, it becomes, you know, it's like a bill."

On the University Senate, faculty and students come together with roughly equal representation and propose actions they would like President Stuart Rabinowitz to adopt for The University. Many of Hofstra's divisions have one to three elected faculty members representing them; Student representation includes both undergraduate and graduate members. The 20-foot no-smoking zone across campus is commonly cited as a visible result of the University Senate's past recommendations.

In the most recent annual report (2009-10) available on the University Senate's website, Nirode commended the efforts of the University Senate while describing its roles. "Through their efforts, and with the support of our faculty colleagues and Hofstra administration, we developed policies and procedures that continue to strengthen and improve all functions and services at the University."

Kalyn Gambord, however, has been on the Student Affairs committee for the past two years and has barely seen action on that level. She says that "the committee is set up currently in such a way that I feel a lot of people don't rank it as a high priority, so they come if there is not something else going on."

"The only role the [student] senators have really played is in expressing an opinion or hypothesizing about what students feel. I think this is something that could be changed through empowering the students on the committee to really use their role to reach out to students on campus, through administering short surveys or working at an Atrium table to collect opinions," Gambord added.

Despite this disillusionment with the Student Affairs committee's detachment from the student body, Gambord is generally positive about the relationship between faculty and students fostered by the organization.

"In terms of the committee, I feel that for the most part students and faculty get along very well. The faculty/admins that sit on our meetings are genuinely interested in what students have to say," concluded Gambord.

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