The following is a Collegian article written by Deputy Chief of Staff, Christina Vessa.
Impactful legislation, long nights and exciting conversations create a compelling environment in the ASCSU Senate. You never know what you are going to get. These elements are what have kept Isabel Brown and Lawrence Horowitz busy in their positions within senate leadership.
When Lawrence and Isabel joined the ASCSU Senate last year, they had no idea how much excitement was to come. Every college, including the Student Diversity and Program Services offices, has full-time seats for representation. Of the 46 full-time seats, there are 17 currently available! There is even a place for students who have double majors or those who are undeclared.
Although Lawrence and Isabel were both members of student council in high school, there is no requirement of student government-related experience in order to join ASCSU.
Senate Outreach Officer Isabel, who is also a Ram Handler, has a love for parliamentary procedure and researching impactful issues within her community – these traits attracted her to run for ASCSU senate last spring. She said that campaigning for a seat wasn’t necessarily hard, or competitive, but that it has resulted in an extraordinary leadership opportunity where she can represent the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Senate Membership Officer Lawrence, who is also a Resident Assistant in Braiden Hall, began as an associate senator for intra-university, which represents undeclared students. He said being an associate senator, which is a non-voting seat, was a nice way to adjust to how senate works, especially when some bills were more contentious than others. Besides the intense Diversity Bill legislation last spring, a recent water bottle re-fill station funding bill was the most contentious piece of legislation that Lawrence has voted on. He said when thousands of dollars could potentially be taken from the Senate Discretionary budget, things often get heated.
“When people hear student government, they think ‘Oh, they’re planning prom,’” Isabel said. “But, we deal with real peoples’ real money from student fees. We organize really important events, bring in speakers and impact the educational experience.”
During the Diversity Bill, Lawrence said voting the way he did was not popular. But, coming together and working with the people who voted the same way helped build a community where he never felt alone during any of it.
“When you first get onto that floor, it is definitely a little intimidating,” Lawrence said. “But, I remember when I first sat there, I was in the front row by myself, and I started to voice my opinions more. It definitely aligned more with certain people.”
Lawrence describes senate in one word: unpredictable. It’s based on decorum, confidence clock, the agenda, the debate and discussion – sessions could end at 9:30 p.m. or at 2:30 a.m. At the end of the day, he says, the variance is enjoyable.
Isabel describes senate as a dynamic body. From an outreach perspective, she says there is always turnover of individuals in the senate. There has also been an array of legislation this semester. She predicts that with the upcoming amendments to the Diversity Bill this week, things will continue to be dynamic.
“To whoever is interested in joining the senate, it doesn’t matter where you came from, it doesn’t matter what you believe, it doesn’t matter what you would vote,” Isabel said. “You’ll always have a community in senate and at the end of the day, our motto is to make it from a ‘them’ to an ‘us’ and a ‘we.’”
For more information about open senate seats, or ASCSU in general, stop by the ASCSU Office Complex in the Lory Student Center.