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The Ohio University Student Senate is the unicameral student government of Ohio University. Senators represent all students and advocate the student opinion to administrators through legislation and as members of university communities. Throughout its history, the Ohio University Student Senate has strived to provide a forum to students so that their voices are heard. Student Senate provides student leaders the opportunity to interact both with each other and with administrators, faculty, community leaders and their constituents. Not only is the Student Senate an advocacy body for the students — a place for open communication and debate about the current issues on campus — but it is also a place to propose changes for the future of students at this university.
Ohio University’s tradition of student government began in 1940 as the Ohio University Student Council, a small group that met weekly to discuss the issues affecting the student body. This organization continued for about 20 years until it was dissolved in 1960. The Student Cabinet was then formed in 1961, and lasted only 6 years.
In 1968 a new group called The Student Governing Board assumed the role of student government leadership on campus. Comprised of 13 members, the Student Governing Board served as an advisory panel to administrators about student opinion on campus issues. Though small, the board successfully served the student body for nearly seven years until the constitution was suspended to overhaul the system for better student representation.
In 1977, Student Senate was formed. The membership of Senate until 1981 was sparse; however, it still was seen as a huge improvement from the previous bodies. The newly formed Student Senate was larger and dealt with a broader range of issues than did previous student governments. The Student Senate, by incorporating new rules and procedures into itself, stands today at Ohio University as a medium between the administration and students. Today's Student Senate Senate boasts a membership of over 100, and it continues to be an effective advocate for Ohio University students.
The Ohio University Student Senate has a parliamentary format, which is rare for a public university. Instead of three branches of government, the senate is a single body with different positions and committees that represent executive, legislative and judicial authority within the organization. Over 50 Senators, both elected and appointed, comprise the voting body of the Senate. Leading the Senate are the three elected executive members, the President, the Vice President, and the Treasurer, along with their appointed Chief of Staff and Communications Director.
The Senators are split up into 12 different commissions, each of which deals with specific issues affecting O.U. students. Senators in charge of a commission are referred to as "Commissioners". The Commissioners meet regularly with their commissions to discuss the issues pertaining to their constituencies. They then bring these issues to the General Body meetings and endorse various resolutions in order to better deal with the students’ issues. Senate's Staff assists the executives and each in commission in completing their initiatives.
Senate also has several standing committees to help it both to maintain itself and to deal with issues not specifically delegated to one commission. The Committee on Rules and Procedures, for instance, deals with changes in Senate's by-laws, while the Committee on Student Representation is tasked with ensuring the equality of the student voice in university decisions.
Student Senate meets every Wednesday evening in Walter 235 at 7:15 p.m. The meetings include a portion called “Student-Speakout,” during which time any student may come and voice concerns to the Senate. Feel free to come by and use that time to have your voice be heard!