At Dixie State University, there exists a group of students whose primary job is to distribute funding for the furtherance of academic endeavors.
Every major department and college at DSU has a student liaison (called a student senator) tasked with meeting with department heads and member of the student government, hearing student requests for funding, and writing bills to provide that funding.
Gabby Benson, a senior communication major from Murray, serves as the senator of the communication department at DSU. Benson has served since the spring of 2017.
“I was replacing a guy who had to quit mid-year,” Benson said. “I got thrown in last spring and just decided to reapply because I liked it so much.”
Senate positions are posted in the spring and students are encouraged to get involved, Benson said.
“It’s an application process,” Benson said. “You’ll go onto OrgSync and submit an application. You have to be declared in the major of your department or college in order to apply.”
After an application is submitted, the applicant is called in to interview with a panel consisting of someone from the student government, the outgoing senator of the desired department and someone else representing the department or college.
Tyler Eddington, a senior finance major from Las Vegas, serves as the senator of the school of business at DSU and became a senator after being recommended for the position.
“I was presented the opportunity and thought it would be a good experience,” Eddington said. “By the time I was recommended, I knew most of the teachers in the school of business and respected one of the previous senators a lot, and I thought I might as well go after some of the same things. It was a respected position that I was excited to take.”
Eddington said every student should get more involved at DSU and recommended the senate as a great way to start.
“A lot of people think we don’t do anything because we’re not over things like the ‘Wednes-D’ activities or the events that the student government typically puts on,” Eddington said. “But we like to be involved in more of the individual student lives by helping them with funding and representation.”
Eddington said when students see something that needs to be improved, he hopes they come to the senate so they can bring the issue to the rest of the student government and the administration.
“Sometimes there are student needs that have to be addressed, and we get to do that,” Eddington said.
One way that the senate helps meet student needs is through an event they hold each semester called Legislation Day.
“Legislation Day is the day we invite students to come and pitch their need or their idea for funding for things that wouldn’t typically fall under our bylaws, which restrict and guide our funding rules,” Eddington said.
Last semester, the senate modeled the funding after the popular reality show, “Shark Tank.” Eddington said many clubs, individuals and groups from all departments came and pitched their ideas. Those with the most convincing, complete and effective presentations were awarded funding.
In March, the senate will be holding another Legislation Day (calling it “The Luck of the Irish”) and Eddington says students are encouraged to prepare well and come present so they can get at the funding, which the senate wants to give them.
“I’d love for more students to ask for funding,” Eddington said. “We have money that students don’t really take advantage of and I can’t offer it — students have to ask for it.”
Eddington said funding is available for research, capstone projects, conferences, academic interest trips and more. Students with questions should contact their department’s senator.
Students interested in becoming members of the senate are encouraged to apply.
“It’s a great resume builder,” Benson said. “Each semester, senators are given an initiative to complete. Being able to show how you specifically made a difference shows employers how creative and motivated you are.”
Other great benefits include a cash stipend for time served, required leadership courses and the opportunity to make great friends and network with impressive people, Benson said.
Luke Kerouac, director of student involvement and leadership said administration is always wanting more students to get involved.
“We’re constantly looking for students who are engaged in their departments,” Kerouac said. “There’s not really any requirement other than GPA and [being] involved.”
Kerouac said students who show they have an interest always have an edge.
“My advice is just to do it — get involved,” Kerouac said.
Interested students must maintain a GPA of 2.75, declare their major, be in good academic standing and have a desire to give back to DSU.
“You’re a student, first and foremost,” Eddington said. “Good grades, studying and getting help from professors will prepare you best for success.”
Eddington said cultivating a good working relationship with the professors in your department is an important step in finding success and networking effectively with professors is what he believes got him the opportunity to serve as a senator.
Positions for next year’s senate open the day after spring break ends and stay open until April 1.
The senate meets every Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the Gardner Center and students are welcome to sit in on their proceedings.