Patrick Hughes

Patrick HughesThe University Senate was the most rewarding and exciting aspect of my experience as a student at College Park. I served as an undergraduate Senator from BSOS for two years and, the second year, as one of the two undergraduate students on the Executive Committee. I also represented students on the Senate Nominations and CORE committees during my tenure in the Senate. Through my position on the Senate, I was also able to serve on the Provot's Student Advisory Council, and most thrillingly, the Search Committee for the new Provost. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn how the administration and the University functioned and to try to improve students' lives on campus.

My fellow undergraduate Senator on the Executive Committee, Katie Hurlbut, and I focused on a few priorities during our tenure: increasing the volume of the student voice on the Senate, facilitating greater communication among student leaders on Senate issues, and trying to cut through some of the University's bureaucratic red tape so that students could get answers to their questions and responses to their grievances. We achieved some progress on each of these priorities, and had a lot of fun while doing it.

In order to amplify the student voice, we spoke up more at Executive Committee and Senate meetings than most student senators in the faculty's recent memory, and by laying out a platform of our own, we were able to control some of the Senate's agenda. Also, in one of my proudest accomplishments, I pointed out an inequity in the way the number of undergraduate seats were determined, gaining students an additional senator. To coordinate among student leaders, I reorganized the Maryland Student Caucus, in which student leaders from the Senate, SGA, and Graduate Student Government met to discuss issues and strategies of mutual interest. Finally, to cut through red tape, Katie and I garnered administration support to create an ombuds office for undergraduate students; the office would be an independent resources for students to learn where to navigate the bureaucracy, receive answers to questions, or register complaints. Last I heard, that plan was still in the process of being implemented. In all, the Senate was exciting and the best platform on campus to get things accomplished for students.