“Not a lot of students notice it.”
Siwon Heo, a Chair member of the Taylor Student Senate, wasn’t exaggerating as she sat down at her desk, a list of committee members on the computer screen in front of her.
Sitting in the lowest part of the LaRita Boren Student Center, the TSO office is easy to miss — but the work taking place there is leaving an impact nonetheless.
“It's all about troubleshooting,” Heo said. “We have to talk a lot with the university, with leadership especially. So for example, we have a facilities and maintenance committee, and they are right now thinking of making the tennis court over there be more accessible.”
Aiming to make sure that students of all backgrounds and abilities are taken care of, a major role of the Student Senate is to make the smaller, yet necessary changes to the community on campus.
Yet this often leaves students in the dark about the Senate’s activity. Whereas many other student-led organizations are put on display through the events they create, Taylor’s Senate is often almost forgotten about, working in the background rather than putting themselves in the limelight.
“Honestly, there's a little bit of my sadness,” Heo said. “I need to really work hard on, you know, advertising and then letting students know that we're actually working on things.”
Heo did emphasize that the Senate is working, however. Alongside the facilities and maintenance committee’s goal of making the tennis court wheelchair accessible, the Student Senate’s health subcommittee has begun overviewing the health center and student insurance policies and Heo herself is learning what it looks like to make the Senate more visible to students.
Her latest idea will become a sort of town hall-style meeting space, where students can interact directly with senate members either in-person or online.
“We're trying to have this like fun thing where we have this timeframe in our meeting that allows anyone to just come and barge in and talk about whatever they want about university,” Heo said. “They can just you know, come in like, ‘hey, I'm angry about this.’”
Of course, students don’t just have to be angry about something to speak with the senators. Heo noted that she’s looking to start a dialogue in the community, and encouraged students to share a variety of comments, from negative critiques to “silly questions about university,” as Heo put it herself.
Heo also hopes to start up an Instagram account for the Senate in the near future, giving the team one more opportunity to connect individually or collectively with the student body.
Placing a special emphasis on the DM capabilities of the social media platform, Heo reiterated again and again her desire to truly connect with the students she’s serving.
“Student senate is very unique,” Heo said. “They are working behind with the university, with the leadership in the university to problem solve, and to implement some ideas and just try to represent and reach out to as many student body parts as possible.”
In doing so, Senate has become involved not only with the finer responsibilities of faculty and staff, but with student-run programs as well, organizing the funding for the dozens of clubs across campus.
Yet despite the progress the Senate has already made this year, Heo emphasized it’s been a slower start to the semester.
“So far, we have some hiccups in, you know, recruiting, organizing the Senate as a — as a team,” Heo said. “Since it's the Senate, and Senate is the representatives of student body, right, so we need to, we absolutely need an election. But the election didn't really go well.”
The lack of membership was an issue for the organization as the semester began, but as the team has come into its own, Heo is hopeful that the Senate will be able to make up for its beginnings and do the most good it can on campus.
“We're just trying hard to represent some ideas as you know, just trying to make the students’ life easier and more fruitful. Just little by little,” Heo said.
And while you may not see the Student Senate working in an obvious way, they are there, doing their best to preserve the good that they see and to faithfully serve the Taylor community.
Even if no one notices.