The road ahead for a new Senate

SpikeI want to lay out some things that might help make the working relationship between the student government and campus media a little more beneficial for us both.

But first, I want to congratulate Katrina Hurley on the Big W. While Ms. Hurley doesn’t have exhaustive experience playing a Saxophone abroad, I still think she can bring something to the table and maybe work to build a more solid relationship between Senate and The Eagle.

Better prepare the Senate agenda

I think the Senate executive board will benefit if they’re more pro-active in preparing the agenda. The military adage of “7 Ps” can be put into place here: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. I think they would do well by sending the Senate’s meeting agenda to the news editor a week in advance.

The editorial board holds its meetings on Wednesday nights after we send the week’s issue to the printers; as soon as we are done with one week’s edition, we are already working on what we have for the next week. What this means is that the agenda cannot be decided the day of a meeting; you need to give the press (and the student body) a whole week (and sometimes more) to hear about an issue before you discuss it.

In my mind, this would be beneficial to Senate and help readers know if its worth their time to appear at the next week’s meeting or write a letter to the editor to voice concerns about a project they care about.

The Senate can only benefit from providing crucial information to students. Advance notice also gives our reporters time to contact the committee chairs or Senators who are working on the issues, which gives them adequate time to write reports that are as in-depth, clear, and accurate as possible.

As we’ve all learned this semester, mistakes are made when we’re given information on short notice.

Give Senators more time to decide

Introducing something one week and putting it up to a vote during that same meeting or the week following doesn’t help you. To a critic, that looks as though you’re trying to railroad projects through in order to avoid criticism.

If that’s your prerogative, then I believe you deserve criticism, but you can avoid that by fostering a healthy debate before sending something to a vote.

I’ve tried doing that with the Senator’s letters justifying their votes on the NCSL trips, but I think we need to do that with more issues. Coupled with releasing the agenda in advance, it will give more time for students to write in and respond about key issues.

Become Media Savvy

I feel much of the breakdown in how the Senate leadership operates comes from a lack of understanding of how media works, (or how it is supposed to work). Senators can always come up to the newsroom and spend a day in the life of a journalist, but maybe that’s too much (I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemies).

One important thing to realize is that The Eagle is not a High School newspaper. We do news, not charity; we don’t owe you flattery. If you accomplish something and you are proud of it, you are welcome to submit a press release and we’ll have a reporter write something. Or, you can pen an op-ed for the Opinion pages, (that’s always been an option, but there have been few takers).

But if you’re continually making mistakes, and don’t want to voice dissent when there’s a problem, you deserve every bit of criticism for your complicity in those mistakes. You are elected to represent students first, college second.

It also needs to be understood that criticism is not “negative,” it is necessary. It means that people are paying attention to what you’re doing and voicing how they feel about it. You might do better to listen for once.

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