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The Student Senate meets in the IdeaSpace in Helmke Library.

SGA vice president pushing expansion of student senate

By Blake Sebring

November 22, 2023

The Purdue University Fort Wayne student senate might soon have to find a bigger room to assemble.

Because more chairs were needed around the table at a recent meeting, the Student Government Association legislative body recently moved out of its conference room to the IDEASpace at Helmke Library. Last year, there were approximately 12 senators attending the Monday afternoon sessions, but Maleah Boyd, vice president of legislation, has encouraged 29 people to join the senate this semester. She’s even looking for a few more.

“Growing the senate was a big goal because I feel like our voices weren’t being heard, and one way to fix that was by getting more people into the room,” Boyd said. “There are more voices to take to the administration, and it helps connect the students to the cabinet and all the people high up.”

While representing the student body in general, the senators also speak for their constituencies of the individual colleges and student organizations.

“Keeping and gaining senators is not difficult if you can help them to feel wanted and needed there and be sure not to overload them with too much,” said Zachary Schubert, Boyd’s righthand assistant as pro tempore of the senate. “Senate is busy and time-consuming but keeping it upbeat and communication both in and out of senate is crucial to retaining senators.”

Senators also serve on one of three committees: public relations, ways and means, and legislative affairs, which also meet weekly. Willow Cribb is the public relations chair, Forrest Romel leads legislative affairs, and Ben Burkle guides ways and means.

“With so many more senators compared to last year, it is more likely that the average student knows a senator,” said Burkle, a senior in his second year in the senate. “This benefits our campus because it makes SGA more accessible. There is more access to senators due to our increased numbers, which gives us more reach to more students, and helps us in our jobs of representing our fellow classmates more accurately and thoroughly.”

The representatives range from freshmen to graduate students, including athletes, and Indiana University Fort Wayne students.

“She has outreached to students and sold the experience that she’s building,” said Alex Backer, executive director of student engagement. “They have a vast scope, so it’s about bringing students’ voices from all across campus into one space to talk about organizations, campus activities, decisions that the administration is making, and things that are happening culturally on campus. It’s really a good place for thinking and action to come together.”

Backer said Boyd is a mix of a seller and a doer, who has succeeded in reaching out to pockets of students who may have been underrepresented in the past, such as older students, LGBTQIA+, and women. She convinces the students they should want this experience.

Sebastien Wilson, former SGA president, said he remembers serving in a senate of seven or eight members who had to deal with various restrictions brought on by the pandemic.

“It gives more legitimacy to the senate because it operates as its own department and has access to a budget to make very serious decisions,” Wilson said.

Essentially, the role is about supporting each other as well as the campus, Boyd said.

“I love my job,” Boyd said. “I’m learning there’s a lot more to life, and it’s this role and being in it. These are amazing people, and it’s going to continue on way past me, and that’s what we want.”

Anyone interested in more information about joining the senate, can email Boyd at [email protected].