Busy agenda faces Student Senate President at the start of the year

After being elected Student Senate President last spring, Ryan Nolen ’12 (Belpre, Ohio) began gearing up for a productive and action-packed senior year.

In addition to completing his degree in Marketing, tacking on minors in Advertising/Public Relations and Communication Studies, and earning a Certificate in Leadership Studies, Nolen participates in many campus activities such as Greek Life and various honorary societies. He serves as vice president of his fraternity and is also involved with the Order of Omega, Gamma Sigma Alpha and Tau Pi Phi.

Nolen looks forward to serving as Student Senate President and, as one of his first initiatives, welcomes students back to campus.

Recently a member of College Relations was able to discuss Nolan’s plans during the 2011-12 academic year.

How did you get involved in Student Senate?

I have been involved in student government since my junior year of high school, and then my senior year I was elected treasurer. As a freshman at Marietta College, I knew I wanted to be involved in student government, so I talked to the former president, Jeff Kimble ’09, and decided to run for Freshman Representative. I’ve been on Student Senate since then as a Sophomore Representative, Vice President, and now starting my term as President.

What are your plans/goals for this coming school year as President?

Senate has a lot of work to cram right into the first couple of weeks back in the fall. The major aspect we must focus on is the changing of the Senate Constitution. Last year’s Exec and the new Exec have worked together to draft a preliminary Constitution to present to Student Senate our first meeting back, with our recommended changes. Senators can then move to pass the Constitution for the student body to vote on, or they can move to change sections as needed. Once Senate has moved to pass the entire Constitution, we will present it to the student body to vote on each of the changes. If the student body passes an Article or Section, it is incorporated into the new Constitution, and if it fails, the way it is stated in our current Constitution will remain the same. It is very important for us to get student feedback, recommendations, and opinions on the Constitution, so watch for updates in the fall and by all means let us know what you think.

What sort of changes have you seen so far in Marietta?

There have been many changes since I was a Freshman Representative that work toward the betterment of Marietta College students. We’ve created a Culinary Committee, where Senators can provide feedback to those working in our dining services when problems arise in the dining halls. We have really pushed attendance at Student Speak Out every semester, although one of my bigger goals for this year is to break 100 students attending the campus-wide meeting we have once a semester. I also think there’s definitely been an increase in communication between Student Senate and the student body, and this year we’re going to try something new; a Senate Newsletter. Every other month we are going to publish a yet-to-be-named newsletter—name suggestions fully welcomed—describing what Senate has been up to, what our plans are for the next two months, and how we’re doing in general, just to give students a closer look at the inner-workings of Student Senate, so it doesn’t seem like we’re only there when a problem arises.

Why would you encourage students to be involved with Student Senate?

There are so many reasons why you should become more involved in Student Senate! Senate has made me more assertive, kept me organized, built relationships with students and faculty members, enhanced my experience on facilitating meetings and running an organization, and provided a gateway for further involvement in other organizations. I couldn’t imagine my college career at Marietta without Senate being a part of it.

Can you give a little overview about how meetings are open, what happens during a meeting, etc.?

All Student Senate meetings are open to the entire campus and occur every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Emeritus Chamber of Andrews Hall. During a typical meeting, we go over officer reports, which entail Senior Week updates, appropriations procedures and any other committee reports that may be a part of Senate. We then discuss old business to finalize anything left over from the previous meeting and bring up new business to discuss. If you, as a student, ever feel something needs brought up within Student Senate, come to a Senate meeting, express your concerns, and let us know how we can help.

How can students utilize Student Senate members?

Each class has three representatives that serve as voting members of Student Senate and they are very useful tools to bring an item to Senate’s attention. Find out who the three students are, talk to them and provide an open channel of communication if there is ever a problem you would like to bring to Senate’s attention. We also have set Commissioners to represent the voice of minority students on campus: gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered, commuters, international and minority students. Use these students to your full advantage; that’s why we’re here.

How does Student Senate make a difference/stand for students? Basically how do they function as the voices of the campus?

Student Senate serves as the liaison between the student body and the faculty and administration. Like I said before, we are here to help if there’s a problem on campus and to shed light on the issue and help find a solution. An example includes last year’s Alcohol Ad-Hoc Committee, which passed a new alcohol policy for the 2011-12 academic year. Student feedback was vital, as this policy affects every Marietta College student. Opportunities like this encourage students to get involved in Student Senate, share their opinions with representatives and help us make a difference on campus. Take advantage of us, Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in the Emeritus Chamber of Andrews Hall. See you there!