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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student


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New Student Senate Vice President Aims to ‘Build Trust and Credibility with the Student Community’

Megan Shafar
Areesha Saif’s profile on the Student Senate Bulletin Board in Seymour Union

Senior Areesha Saif is now the vice president of Student Senate. She was appointed by the President sophomore Sikander Mateen, after she and another candidate decided to run and presented their ideas to him. Then, the Senate General Assembly (GA) and the executive committee voted to approve the appointment.

This process was different from Senate’s typical elections. Last term, Mateen stepped into the position of vice president after the previous vice president stepped down. Then, the previous president also resigned, so Mateen became president.

That left a need to fill the vice president role.

“[There] was a lot of leadership change going on there, so it was a very different situation; it was very difficult to have elections in that situation,” Saif said.

Plus, Senate is looking to decrease the frequency of elections.

“I think last year, it even became a running joke around campus that Senate’s always having elections,” Saif said. “So we kind of wanted to avoid that repeated election process, and we’re also working on changing the bylaws to make sure that if something like this happens, it’s the executive committee that decides instead of repeated elections.”

She added that there are concerns that frequent Senate elections have resembled popularity contests.

Saif has been part of Senate since the fall of 2022. She started as a class senator and worked on the diversity committee. In the fall of 2023, she was elected as the secretary.

As part of her new role, she will work with the first-year representative to implement a project that they are still deciding on.

Furthermore, one of Saif’s top priorities as vice president is increasing accountability for senators by enforcing attendance policies more strictly and ensuring people adhere to the bylaws, which she said have not always been followed.

To increase accountability and motivate members, she wants to improve the Senate incentive structure.

Each term, senators are paid $150, and executive members are paid $350. Saif said she does not think this is enough to motivate people to work more and do their best. While she does not think the current budget can allow for increased stipends, she wants to create non-monetary incentives, as well.

“For me, it’s how do we restore that credibility and how do we become an organization whose laws people follow, who people respect, and that we have that kind of trust and credibility with the student community?” Saif said.

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Megan Shafar
Megan Shafar, Staff Writer
Megan Shafar '26 (she/her) is a staff writer. She is majoring in environmental studies and minoring in public policy and enjoys dancing, reading, and watching shows.

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