Anna Norkett’s promise to the student body if elected president
By Anna Norkett
When I joined Senate as a first-year, I could not be more excited to be a voice for the student body and start making real changes on our campus. Serving as Membership Chair, I worked primarily with other students who were interested in becoming involved in Senate as well. Through applications and interviews, I would hear about the issues they saw in different parts of campus, the solutions they wanted to implement, and the enthusiasm they had to get started.
However, after only a couple Tuesday Senate meetings, I would watch as this enthusiasm disappeared. The new members quickly molded to the vibe of the rest of the Senate chamber: disinterested, apathetic, and content with the status quo. They were disappointed in what I too had discovered — that Senate is not actively working to further students’ interest.
Yes, you read that correctly. I am here to confirm from inside experience the suspicions you had all along: Student Senate does not do much for campus.
Serving as Student Body Secretary this year, my frustrations with Senate only deepened. Yes, we passed a piece of legislation that allowed us to move forward with a feasibility study for a new student center, and I do not want to discount the work people put into this important initiative. However, this initiative took 1 and a half years of Senate’s time. And what else have we done during that time? Not much.
Student Senate has 60 people in its chamber every Tuesday plus dozens of more committee members that meet each week. If 60 people worked at full capacity to take the complaints and suggestions they hear around campus and act on them, we could be churning out a few resolutions per week, a far cry from the 10 we’ve passed all year, not even all of which have been improvements that directly affect the student body.
We are now in full swing of election season. Some of the candidates are running on platforms that call for increased communication and transparency between Senate and the rest of the student body. That way, they say, we can update students on our agenda and progress. But how can we tell people about things we are not doing?
For example, last year during campaign season, students were promised more parking, more basketball tickets, and plans for Senate to have joint events with other student organizations, among other ideas. I am sorry to report we’ve made no progress in any of these areas.
Another concern with Senate is that most people’s voices are not heard. When talking to a student recently, she told me about how every single time there is a “Senate Meet-and-Greet,” many students complain about fixing the men’s bathroom setup in Meadows. This is a serious concern that students obviously want addressed, yet not once have I heard this issue brought up in a Senate meeting.
So when polls open on April 1, do not be satisfied with electing candidates who only want a title for a resume. Do not be satisfied with minimal improvements each year. Do not be satisfied with leaders who talk a lot but do not live out what they say.
It’s time we actually hold Senate accountable. It’s time candidates stop promising things they know they won’t take action on. It’s time Senate starts listening to the needs of the students — all students, not just a select group. It’s time that “Community” stops being a catchy platform word and instead becomes a reality on campus. It’s time we elect Senate leaders who have a history of listening, collaborating, and delivering on their commitments.
I am running for Student Body President because through my involvement on campus – involvement that extends well beyond the walls of the Senate chamber – I have heard the voices of those who often go unheard, I have a vision for how Senate can be reformed, and I know I can lead a group of passionate, hardworking students towards a better SMU.
For example, as President of Mustang Heroes, I mobilized an initial group of 7 students, which grew to over 160 students within one semester, by committing to and executing on a plan to increase our membership and thereby the impact we could make in the Dallas community. Last semester alone, we served 2,130 hours (well over our 1,500-hour goal). I am proud of the work this group accomplished and proud of the community it’s created, truly bringing people from different parts of campus – Greek, non-Greek, different ethnic backgrounds, all majors – together.
It’s with this same sense of tireless accountability and purpose I would approach the Student Body President role. You can expect more than a campaign slogan or platform from me, as you should from all candidates you consider. Otherwise, words are just words — and verbosity should never be confused with leadership, inclusivity, and execution.
Anna Norkett is a junior studying Economics and Public Policy. She currently serves as Student Body Secretary, Mustang Heroes President, is a Community Outreach Fellow in the Embrey Human Rights Program for her project College Bound DFW, and is on InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s Vision Team.