SA upholds Jackrabbits’ interests, Senator explains

Kate Wegehaupt

Kate Wegehaupt

Did you know that you are a Union member? Not because of your job or your activities, but simply because you are a student at South Dakota State University. You pay dues (student fee dollars) and use them to fund student projects. In fact, you even own the Student Union. You’ve also helped establish the SDSU Wellness Center and new dormitory and Union expansions. Even more, you have a voice in practically every other campus decision.

Is this new information to you? Well, we’re working on changing that.

Cue the Students’ Association, otherwise known as Student Senate. It’s run by students, for students. We’re one of your main outlets on campus – a way to get your voice heard.

Every Spring, elections are held for each college, giving students the opportunity to vote, run, and be elected for Students’ Association (SA). All colleges are represented, as well as the graduate program.

Candidates for SA President and Vice President also run during this time. Once elections are over, any unfilled spaces are designated to At-Large members. These can be students from any college who interview and are selected by the new SA. Once on board, students serve a year-long term, joining University and Project committees based on their platforms (issues they promised to address while they were running for office).

If you’ve ever seen dressed-up students wandering upstairs on a Monday night, they’re probably Senators. These weekly meetings give students a chance to stay updated on campus happenings. Here, forums take place, where University administration (including President Chicoine), Brookings officials or other community members come in to talk about important issues. Resolutions concerning SDSU students are proposed and voted on, making sure the students’ opinion is made known.

These Monday gatherings are open to all interested. Plus, student organizations can send Ex Officios (representatives), getting an opportunity to update the Senate on what their groups are doing.

So now you know a little more about Senate. But what do we actually do?

For starters, we approve the Student Fee Budget. Basically, we allocate (distribute) student fee dollars to different organizations and causes on campus. If you take a look at the activities you’re involved with, chances are that student fee money helps fund them. Any organization can request student fee dollars, provided it directly benefits SDSU students. Group representatives are then interviewed over their activities, purposes, and needs. SA votes on the proposed budget and groups receive money. It’s fairly simple and not nearly as intimidating as it sounds.

We also have a State and Local Government committee, which works to ensure ongoing communication between SDSU students and the South Dakota state legislature and Brookings community. In fact, every spring, Senators can attend Students for Higher Education Days (SHED), where they personally interact and chat with members of the State Legislature about issues (concerning students or otherwise).

Senators also attend meetings for the Board of Regents – the group that influences tuition rates and graduation requirements, among other things.

Senators individually research topics they’re interested in, too. During office hours, and on personal time, you can find us looking up information and advocating for students on a variety of projects. Recent ones include city and campus bike lanes, campus construction projects, SDSU green space, and the SDSU Student Savings Club (this last one is really cool – it gives students access to a number of discounts from Brookings businesses).

Want to learn more information about Senate? Come visit us in our office (140A) in the Union. We’re also online at Last but not least, check out our bulletin board, located in the SA office’s front window, and stay on the lookout for future articles on The Collegian.