Student Government acts as student voice on campus

Truman State University’s Student Government is an organization on campus comprised of over thirty students who are tasked with various jobs in the community, student life and academics. All members of Student Government share the goal of listening to and making the student body’s voice able to make positive change.

Student Government acts as a liaison between the student body and other groups on campus and in the community, such as faculty, staff, administration and community groups, Student Government President Deanna Schmidt said. Student Government also represents the student body’s voice through committees, projects and policies the organization pushes through.

Student Government consists of an executive board that guides the organization with help and communication from all members. The executive board is comprised of five members: the president, vice president, speaker, secretary and treasurer. Under the executive board is the executive staff, such as the P.R. director and I.T. director, which includes individuals with specific skill sets to help Student Government run smoothly. 

Student Government also has an executive committee comprised of the six standing committee chairs that deal with their respective areas such as academic affairs, external affairs, student affairs, health, wellness and safety, environmental affairs and campus diversity. 

There are also multiple secondary and sub committees that do specific tasks. One example of this is the appropriations committee, which looks into the allocation of funds to various students, student organizations and campus-wide efforts. 

Additionally, the parking appeals committee is another sub committee that reads student appeals on parking tickets and look into getting ticketed students their money back. 

The committees are comprised of voting senators, who are voted on by the student body in fall and spring elections, and those individuals serve on at least one standing committee and can vote at Student Government meetings. A committee has an area they focus on such as the environment, diversity or student affairs and tries to listen to student input and create projects to enhance student experience. 

Additionally, there are associate senators, who are not voted on by the student body, but instead appointed by the Student Government president and approved by the organization. These individuals do not have the ability to vote at meetings, but can still serve on committees, and help committees achieve their agendas, by participating in their meetings and events.

Schmidt said her job is to represent the body of Student Government to other organizations and higher levels of administration. Schmidt meets weekly with Student Government Vice President Katie Alexander, President Sue Thomas and Vice President for Student Affairs Janna Stoskopf to talk about the projects Student Government is working on and what is happening on the administration side so Student Government can voice input when needed.

“Student Government is also involved with faculty governance,” Schmidt said. “Every other week there is either a Faculty Senate or Undergraduate Council meeting, and I go to Faculty Senate and Vice President Katie Alexander goes to Undergraduate Council. This is so that the student voice is heard in curricular matters.”

There are also various activities that do not fit under any of the committees that Schmidt might work with, such as the annual Presidents’ Roundtable. Schmidt said she and Alexander contacted every club and organization’s president and invited them to a meeting to discuss campus issues and how to work together as leaders to solve them.

Speaker Jared Kolok said his position is a neutral and unbiased member of Student Government that is both part of the executive board and the senate.

“My job is comprised of running meetings, sending out agendas every week, as well as serving as a resource as a senior who has been with Student Government for three years,” Kolok said. “I am also a procedural guide, because I know the procedures, the constitution, the standing rules and the kind of questions that arise from those areas.”

Directly underneath the executive board is the executive committee, where the standing committees are. The executive committee is comprised of the six committee chairs who each oversee their respective committee. Environmental Affairs Committee Chair Emma Rollings is on the executive committee, and she said that the Environmental Affairs Committee deals with both the environment in general as well as more local issues.

“Last year I was involved with getting enough signatures to put forth a carbon neutrality proposal,” Rollings said. “Then Student Government put together a carbon neutrality goal for Truman by the year 2030, in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement, which was eventually adopted by the Faculty Senate.”

All members of Student Government work together to get the student body’s voice heard through their work through committees and passing resolutions, but that can be difficult when there are different views. An example of this can be seen with the International Flag Display in Pickler Memorial Library. When it was being built, an issue arose on whether or not the display should include the U.S. flag. Student Government heard from political organizations on campus, international students on campus and other individuals to create a dialogue to discuss this issue and bring everyone together on a decision. Student Government attempts to listen to students of differing opinions to create a voice that represents the entire student body, rather than just the voice of the members of Student Government itself.

Student Government also pushes for fixing issues that might impact students. An issue that Student Government was active in and helped push forward was the class retake policy that was changed last year. They were vocal in their support for students to change policy and bringing the issue to the attention of administration when necessary. Another example of Student Government helping the student body is when they pushed to get a suicide hotline on the back of student I.D. cards.

Student Government also advocates for students by passing resolutions. An individual or a committee can come up with an idea, formulate it into a formal resolution and then bring the resolution to the general body meeting so that members of Student Government can have a discussion, voice opinions and ask questions.

After the discussion on the resolution, all voting members of the organization vote on it, and if it passes the first read it will be brought to a meeting again the following week where changes can be made. At the second meeting it is voted on again, and if it passes with a simple majority it will be passed along to relevant parties. After this step it is mostly out of Student Government’s hands, but this is to create discussion and present current opinions on issues that are present within Truman’s community. It is then up to the relevant parties to either take the students’ input or not. It’s through this process that administration and other such influential groups on campus can hear about what the students have expressed they want using Student Government as a way of expression.