Five freshmen elected to student senate

Maddi Duncan walked into Alderson Auditorium just a few moments before 6 p.m. She took her seat next to the four other members of Vote Five, anxiously awaiting the results.

“It was like cast list day,” Duncan said.

Duncan, a freshman from Lenexa, was involved in theater at Shawnee Mission West High School and knew the all too familiar feelings of anticipation that coincided with awaiting important results.

Although Duncan didn’t try out for the school play this time, she ran for a freshman senator spot on Student Senate.

As Duncan sat with her group, thoughts began racing through her head. Will we all five get elected? Did we get enough individual votes?

As the hour approached, Duncan would finally find out if her laborious weeklong campaign would pay off.

Finally, her watch read 6 o’clock and the results were in.

“It gets there, you see your name, and it’s so surreal,” Duncan said. “You actually did it.”

Duncan, along with three other members of Vote Five, heard their names announced as four of the five new freshmen senators.

There was hardly any time for celebration as the new senators were thrown in immediately.

Tyler Childress, the chief of staff for Student Senate, took the newly elected freshman senators and began briefing them on what agendas they would be voting on within the next hour.

“I wanted to make sure that they would be representing the voices of the freshman to the best of their ability,” Childress said.

Freshmen senators are awarded automatic voting rights, so the newly elected group of five had to catch up and vote on bills immediately.

“It was overwhelming,” Duncan said. “Even if we wanted to have a say, we couldn’t, because we didn’t know what was going on.”

Childress tried his best to make sure the freshmen were as caught up as possible in such a short amount of time. The Senate staff will hold a mini training session for the newly elected freshman to further go over rules and regulations.

At the first Senate meeting, they had to go over an interim agenda, a consent agenda and a regular agenda.

According to Duncan, the interim agenda is a set of bills that Childress put together during the summer. This agenda needed to be voted on by the senate. The consent agenda is a block of bills that went through smaller committees and the finance committee within Senate. This agenda was presented, but not voted on. Finally, the regular agenda consisted of bills that were debated by the entire Senate.

After an hour and a half of going through these agendas, Duncan and the rest of the freshmen senators felt exhausted.

Once the meeting was over, Duncan could collect her thoughts and cherish being elected as a senator.

Duncan said being elected was an incredible feeling, especially since a lot of it was out of her hands.

“You have to get people to vote for you,” Duncan said. “It’s not an audition.”

Cherishing the moment didn’t last long, not for Duncan anyway. She is already planning her next step. She wants to write a bill changing the rules and regulations of freshmen elections by the next legislative cycle.

Currently, if you have over 24 credit hours, you’re considered a sophomore and aren’t allowed to vote in freshmen elections, even if you are a first year student. Duncan wants to allow students to vote based on their year in school rather than number of credit hours.

Additionally, Duncan, along with the other freshmen that were elected, is looking to add recycling bins outside on Jayhawk Blvd. They are still looking into details and more information will be accessible as the bill is written.

“Our generation as a whole is more concerned about recycling,” Duncan said. “The four of us (from Vote Five) came together and thought this was something that you could really see here at KU.”

Duncan also hopes to create an open dialogue between students and Senate.

“I want students to reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, etc.,” Duncan said. “I hope students don’t feel like we have too much authority to care, because we do. That’s why we ran.”

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