Tyler is a junior class senator on his student government. He was also assigned to the University Affairs Student Senate Committee, which focuses on issues relating to the campus police, facilities, building projects, the bookstore, dining halls, parking, transportation, and other university services. Many student complaints relate to the areas covered by the University Affairs Committee, and its members are always very, very busy working on projects and initiatives.
Tyler feels that his committee work is taking up all of his time. When he joined student government, he thought he would be working with students, getting to know their campus experience, and addressing their concerns. Tyler knows a lot of juniors spend a semester abroad, and upon their return, many feel misplaced, struggle to find housing, or have difficulty receiving university credit for classes they took abroad.
On the UA committee, Tyler has the opportunity to make significant changes, but he feels distanced from the class community he represents. Tyler thinks that his greatest responsibility as a senator is to his constituents, and worries he isn’t accurately representing their changing needs. In order to spend more time connecting with his constituency, Tyler knows he would have to give up at least one of the committee projects he is working on, but he has noticed that committee work is the Senate’s priority. Almost all the Senate’s goals, objectives, and achievements revolved around committee projects.
Tyler is concerned that giving up one of the committee projects would make him appear lazy or unproductive to other Senators, who might avoid collaborating with him on future projects. Tyler also worries that when elections roll around, he will have fewer achievements to discuss than his project-driven peers. Tyler can’t shake the feeling that he needs to do more to connect with his constituency, and wonder if it is worth the sacrifice.
What would you do in Tyler’s position? Do you think Senate is right to prioritize tangible goals and projects, or should they spend more time connecting with the students they represent? How can you strike a balance between the two roles?