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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Graduate P Shaylee Ackerman (10) pitches during Texas A&Ms game against Valpo on Feb. 10, 2024 at Davis Diamond.
Holding down the house
February 22, 2024
Graduate P Shaylee Ackerman (10) pitches during Texas A&Ms game against Valpo on Feb. 10, 2024 at Davis Diamond.
Holding down the house
February 22, 2024

Leadership transition prompts senator reflection

 
 

In what has been described as a year of ups and downs, senators from the 65th Session of Student Senate reflect on the past session and offer advice for those preparing to serve in the 66th.
In a session that featured controversy regarding bills related to gun control, the University Advancement Fund and the ability to opt out of fees on religious grounds, Scott Bowen, outgoing Senate speaker and senior chemical engineer major, said his biggest struggle this year has been trying to depersonalize issues.
“Our goal has always been to approach each bill with open minds and with our eyes looking towards facts and rational policy,” Bowen said. “Unfortunately, we have often fallen short of that standard, allowing petty politics, personal feelings about others in SGA, and emotional grandstanding to get in the way of good legislation.”
However, Bowen said Senate best demonstrated its potential and purpose by opening a productive campus-wide discussion on controversial issues. He cites as a prime example the passage of the personal protection bill that went through Senate.
“We passed the bill, even overriding a veto, on the basis of facts and logic,” Bowen said. “In so doing, we prompted a statewide discussion about campus safety and several other schools have weighed in on this issue. If a bill passes in the [Texas] Legislature, we as a student body will have played a large role in seeing that through.”
Bowen said students all over campus benefited from Senate’s actions in various ways.
“Many of [the more than 70 bills considered] were non-controversial and passed unanimously, recommending small improvements to student services, academic issues, and internal governance,” Bowen said.
Fernando Sosa, finance chair and sophomore political science major, said Senate’s impact included working with University dining to improve the quality of service, supporting state legislation aimed at making campus safer and funding committees such as Big Event and Muster. Sosa said the session was, overall, a success.
Mariana Fernandez, outgoing speaker pro tempore and senior political science major, said her time in Senate has shaped the person she is today.
“Senate gave me the opportunity to serve my University, build relationships and grow as an individual,” Fernandez said. “It taught me that it is important to respect the opinions of others, that great solutions come from disagreement, and that it is crucial to stand up for what you believe.”
Senator Gus Blessing, a junior international studies major, said while he was proud of the increased constituency reaction in the last session, Senate still has room for more constituent outreach.
“As an organization we did good things, but we can always do more,” Blessing said.
Blessing said the only way to make sure this trend of increased involvement continues is for new senators to go beyond mandatory meeting attendance and urges newcomers to be “self-starting” senators that actively talk to administrators and constituents.
Echoing these sentiments, Bowen said hard work – whether fruitful or not – does more than just benefit a single Senate session. Bowen said he urges senators in the next session to stick with a cause.
“Find one issue you are personally passionate about and see it through,” Bowen said. “Take advice from others and keep an open mind, but set a goal for what you would like to accomplish and then fight for it until a decision is made. Whether you win or lose, you will have learned about every step of the process and you will have new expertise to offer the next senator in line.”
When researching bills and voting, Fernandez said she advises each senator to act on their ethical obligation to not be a mindless follower.
“Stand up for what you believe,” Fernandez said. “Do not compromise your values. Never be afraid to be the one person in the room for or against something if that it is what your conscience is telling you. Every vote counts.”

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