Student Senate represents the student body and works to make the campus better for students. Photo by Nicole Perelli.
The University of Rhode Island Student Senate solves problems on campus, allocates funding for clubs, works with University administrators and much more, yet many students on campus may not know who their student representatives are.
All URI students are eligible to elect the Student Senate representatives, which is done through voting. Different senators are from different majors and hold different positions, such as on-campus representatives, off-campus representatives, at-large representatives and liaisons.
The current Vice President of the Student Senate is senior biological science major Amanda Marino. Marino started off as an at-large senator during her freshman year, and has since moved up the ranks within Senate and now encompasses a wide array of responsibilities.
“One of my duties is to orient new senators,” Marino said. “This past election process we did have a lot of people run. Once you get on senate, the process is about being oriented, getting a welcome packet and an all about me sheet. I always want them to know they are students first.”
Marino currently splits her position into two roles. One of her roles is to monitor Senate proceedings, and her second role is to work with Student Senate President Nick Marotta to advance certain goals regarding issues they have set.
“Me and the president ran on a set of goals so me and him have divided them up,” said Marino. “We’ve been working on trying to prevent sexual assault in the local bars, we are working on a program on that right now. We are also working on a medical initiative of possible CPR training day for a mass amount of students.”
Marino explained why one fulfilling aspect of being a member of the Student Senate is serving as the vice president of the Student Organization Committee.
“It was getting student groups recognized, getting them possible funding and make sure they have the foundation to thrive as I have thrived,” said Marino.
Another part of the Senate’s responsibilities is helping set academic policies that protect the interest of students. Thomas McGrath, a junior political science major, serves as the academic chair with the academic affairs division of the senate.
“I joined the Student Senate in my sophomore year and I joined because I wanted to get more involved on campus and I wanted to be a part of important decisions,” said McGrath.
As the academic chair, McGrath hopes to improve the quality of students’ academic experiences.
“My priorities are really just being responsive to the students who need help and send in complaints,” said McGrath. “What I really hope for is better dialogue between students and faculty.”
Apart from taking in student complaints, McGrath wants to implement a new system to improve classroom environments.
“I would like for all professors and faculty to have diversity training,” said McGrath. “I think professors should be trained in that because it is very important for a classroom environment where everyone feels safe and can be included in discussions and conversations”.
Within the past year, the Student Senate has undergone internal improvements, which included changes to their constitution and bylaws
“They basically changed their entire constitution and bylaws. So much of the year was focused on writing new rules and voting on them,” said former at-large Senator Jay Rumas.
During Rumas’s time as a senator, one of his focuses was working with other senate members to make specific changes to the University’s academic calendar.
“We were working to get election days off at the University,” said Rumas. “The biggest thing that I would say I did was push a resolution through basically pressuring the faculty senate to cancel election day classes”.
The Student Senate encourages URI students interested in joining to contact them for information regarding how to run for a seat and make a difference in the URI community.