By Nandini Agarwal, October 15 2019—
The Senate & U was an organized event by student-at-large Senate Representatives Raquel Jackson and Jonah Secreti. The event took place on Oct. 23 in the Faculty of Arts Lounge and was organized with the aim of allowing students to network with the members of the University of Calgary Senate whilst getting to know about their role in student life.
The lounge was filled with excited students ranging from first-years to fifth-years, and senators warmly welcomed the students to the interactive event that was designed for both groups to get to know each other. The Senate & U was meant for students to expand their horizons while also allowing them to learn about how to get involved on campus and the importance of the different aspects of a Senator’s position.
When asked about why the event was organized, Secreti talked about how he and Raquel and wanted “to increase community engagement between senators and students on campus.” Supporting Secreti’s statement, Jackson talked about “working on accountability in the role.”
“Once students know what Senate is and what we do in the Senate, we can also be accountable for what we are meant to do when we go for council meetings,” she said.
Secreti explained that the chancellor is the official spokesperson of the Senate.
“Raquel and I are the undergraduate representatives from the U of C Senates. On the Senate, our roles are to attend the meetings, vote on different motions and represent the interests of the students,” he said.
“The Senate plays a role on the university budget, and scholarships,” added Jackson. “So, we are making sure to make sure that they have a student perspective when they are making decisions so that it is relevant.”
The Senate & U was the first of many such events according to Secreti and Jackson. The students-at-large had initially designed it as a pilot project to engage interest from the students and senators. It allowed them to gain insight into who is interested in the event and who is attending, which they said will further help them in formulating events for the future. They also discussed how while there are no specific deadlines right now for any future events, they would absolutely like to organize more of them.
“When we hosted the event, we got feedback that the senators wanted the event based on faculties, such as Science Senate and You, Business Senate and You, etc.,” said Jackson. “There’s certainly lots of interest for the event. Hosting it was important because it showed that there is a demand for it. We do hope to end the year in the town hall with a panel, depending on the student representation. We hope to do so; however, do not have any hard deadlines.”
Secreti has volunteered in the past as an usher for convocation, which he said allowed him to be aware of the role with the Senate. He talked about how impactful it has been to be part of the Senate.
“Being able to be in the same room and in meetings with community leaders, ambassadors and administrators allows me to be able to advocate for student interests to the individuals,” he said.
Jackson was an arts representative when she heard senator reports. After doing much research, she decided that the Senate would be a great opportunity to have her voice heard. Jackson talked about how her experience has been absolutely amazing, and the mentor assigned to her through the Senate has been helpful and always makes an effort to make sure that she feels her voice is heard. She emphasized that the Senate representatives “really want to make their roles present on campus, and are actively soliciting feedback from the students.”
Students looking to get more insight and participation with the U of C Senate can reach out to Jackson and Secreti via their respective email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.