Senate introduces new committee on transparency

By Emma Casaudoumecq

Earlier this year, the Student Senate decided to establish a new board, identified as the Committee on Transparency, with seven members from the Senate representing the rest of the student government.

As the name suggests, the Committee on Transparency allows the Student Senate to communicate more clearly with the Branson community by providing them with the attendance data from Senate meetings, as well as a tally of each member’s stance after a Senate vote.

According to Shun Graves, the committee chair, “The objective of the Transparency Committee is to connect the Senate more closely to the people who elected it. The goal is to communicate more directly with the students what the Senate is doing and how the people who were elected are serving their classes.”

Even Senate members, who are the representatives of the student body, understand that it is difficult to be aware of Senate’s priorities and focus at times.

Graves, who is also on the Blazer staff, shared how the Committee on Transparency will help forge stronger communication channels between the Committee and the students by saying, “They have very little clue about what’s going on and what the people they elected are doing. So, the idea behind the committee is to reinforce that connection and to hold Senate members accountable. They were elected, so they should be held accountable.”

The Committee on Transparency has created, and continues to explore, additional ways to improve communication between the Branson community and the Senate.

These new methods will allow more interaction and awareness.

“The first thing we did was to start that attendance sheet because we really wanted to show to the community that the elected Senate members are participating,” Graves said. “… And the nice thing we’ve done is the Haiku portal which is still in an embryonic stage. But we hope that in the future it will become a forum or at least some sort of center with the community.”

Additionally, the new sheets have also allowed the Senate to be more productive and organized.

“Also, after we did that, we wanted to streamline the voting procedure, which is why we added the vote tabulation sheet,” Graves said. “It used to be that we’d raise hands and do that kind of voting on Zoom, and that’s not really efficient. So, we input votes right onto the sheet, and it’s right onto that public record where you can see who voted how on what measure.”

Overall, the Committee on Transparency aims to provide more understanding of the Senate’s actions to the Branson community.

“It’ll really just give more of an insight into how we make our decisions and how we want to help the community and where it’s coming from,” Caitlin Capitolo, a committee member and freshman, said.

The committee is already seeing positive results because the students agree that they feel more connected to the Senate than they did previously as a result of the newly established board.

“I do feel more connected because, one, they’re making an effort to reach out to the rest of the Branson community and share with us what they are doing,” Melanie Forney, a freshman, said. “And, knowing what they’re doing also takes away the mystery from it.”