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Inside the 10th HUSA Senate: Meeting Students Where They Are

Photo via Zoom

A virtual event was hosted by the 10th administration of the Howard University Student Association (HUSA) Senate with open arms to welcome their peers into the world of student government at Howard. Though things can be confusing, Senators have committed to “Meeting Students Where They Are,” to create a level of understanding and comfortability between leaders and the community they serve.  

Naheim Banks, a HUSA senator from the College of Arts and Sciences says that his biggest takeaway from being in the Senate has been the importance of collaboration. 

“Something that I’ve enjoyed in my experience is the way we work together on issues that we all care about, even though we have different constituencies relative to COAS, CNAHS, or SOC for example, we all have things to advocate for that ultimately bring us together, ” Banks said.

The HUSA Senate was established in 2011 to serve as the legislative branch of HUSA. Since then, Senate members have worked to help campus by passing different legislation to benefit students throughout their matriculation at Howard and far beyond. 

The Howard University Equal Pay Act, and the LGBTQ Bill are just two examples of legislation that were passed in the last ten years to aid the Howard community. This year, HUSA Senate is looking forward to creating even greater change and continuing to follow their motto, “Meeting Students Where They Are.”

The 10th General Assembly of Howard University Student Association Senate held their first general body meeting of the semester two weeks ago. Meeting attendance amongst Senate members and student leaders was abundant. To begin, student concerns and general announcements were addressed by Senate members and their advisors. The relaunch of campus life was discussed during this time, as well as executive reports and updates.

A diagram was shown to attendees that broke down Campus Life into four subunits: Amour J. Blackburn University Center, Office of Intercultural Affairs, Office of Greek Affairs, and the Office of Student Leadership. Within each subunit are different components of campus life that each group focuses on. For example, anything that concerns elected student leader positions will be held under the Office of Student Leadership. Campus wellness and recreation falls under Amour J. Blackburn University Center. LGBTQIA+ Community and student organizations report to the Office of Intercultural Affairs while the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) is under Greek Affairs.

Additionally, this year’s administration has implemented individual school council reports It gives council members the opportunity to report on their school and how things are going. The Vice Presidents of councils will be responsible for giving these updates on the first Wednesday of each month. 

Howard University’s student government system closely mirrors the structure of the United States government. The judiciary branch is composed of appointed individuals, the executive branch is the president of student government, the legislative branch is the Senate, and student councils represent local government. 

The current president of HUSA, Kylie Burke, described the role of the executive branch serving as a bridge between students and administration. Burke works closely with university policies, while the HUSA Senate deals with student relations and addressing their immediate needs. 

“HUSA works at the intersection of all of our stakeholders,” Burke said.

The Chair of HUSA Senate, Jordyn Allen, is dedicated to making this year a top tier experience for both Senate members and all students. In her role as chair she serves as a familiar face of HUSA Senate as well as an overseer within each committee. Allen describes student government as a bubble, one that she would like to invite other students into. 

“While being a member of student government both virtually and in person, I’ve noticed a gap between students and student leaders. So, meeting students where they are is really about taking steps to change that. There are a lot of students that don’t know who their student leaders are and what they can do for them.” Allen said.

This year, the Senate is looking forward to implementing new and important legislation one the The Student Green Fund. This bill was written by the External and Community Affairs committee over the last year, and it’s main purpose is to use part of the funding from the student activity fee and put it toward sustainability efforts across campus. 

Another piece of legislation  recently adopted and passed was the Good Trouble Award. This award acknowledges student activists on campus, and one will be chosen and highlighted each month.

At the end of the meeting, HUSA addressed their efforts to be transparent and aligned with Howard media outlets during a brief press conference. Since outlets like The Hilltop, Spotlight Network & Television, and WHBC 96.3. tend to answer questions that students may have, HUSA intends to hold more events with press conference opportunities as well as extending emails to media organizations. 

Furthermore President Burke acknowledged HUSA’s very own press release archive that is available for outlets as well.

The next Senate meeting is scheduled to meet in person Wednesday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. in the College Hall South multipurpose room.

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