Gonzaga Student Body Association (GSBA), is a name seen on campus often: on the corners of posters promoting events, in weekly emails, or in John. J Hemmingson Center encouraging students to vote for senators — but what do they do and why are they so important?

Located in the Hemmingson Center room 304, in the Center for Student Involvement, GSBA bumps elbows with SpikeNites and Kennel Club, two other organizations that were created to enhance the GU student experience. 

Most of the work the senate does is behind the scenes and not seen by GU students. GSBA’s mission strives to be committed to helping students and developing programs relating to the importance of the student experience.

“I think GSBA is important to the greater GU community because it holds great potential to impact our campus culture and climate,” Caitlin Bowers, GSBA chief of staff, said in an email.

GSBA hosts a wide variety of events around campus, such as club fair, GU’s beloved Wednesday night Coffeehouse in Hemm Den, where live singers from the GU and Spokane community come to play soft tunes for students.

The programming doesn’t stop there, with a number of events including but not limited to planning weekend activities, hosting student town halls, approving club funding requests, among others.

GSBA is also responsible for the creation of the Undergrad Professional Development Grant, a grant that is for first-generation GU students to help fund their professional growth, such as paying for flights to business conferences, or assistance in buying work clothes before interviews.

For funding of clubs and approval of grants like this one, GSBA hosts a weekly senate meeting, normally held on Monday evenings.

The Senate acts as the legislative body for GSBA. 

The Senate is where the rules for all of the events and activities hosted by GSBA and planned by the executive committee come in. It puts in the bylaws, and codes for what each position does and what each position has jurisdiction over.

Lindsey Anderson, a junior class senator, has been working with GSBA since the beginning of this semester. Along with being a senator, she also sits on the Health and Safety Committee and the Green Fund Committee.

“I meet with this committee once a week to discuss ways in which we can promote safety on campus, and we look into what issues are affecting the health and safety of students, and how we can improve these aspects of student life,” Anderson said in an email.

There are senate chairs for a range of topics on GSBA Senate. These include class senators, a senator per school, on and off-campus senators and an international senator. Together at their weekly meetings, they discuss the events that each committee is putting on or in the process of planning.

Sophomore Phoebe Tang, is the speaker of the senate for GSBA. Her role in GSBA is to lead the weekly senate meetings, held on Monday nights. Last year she served as the freshman senate chair, where she was responsible for looking into things that would make new freshmen’s lives better at GU.

Tang ran for speaker of the senate unopposed at the end of spring semester. She leads the senate meetings, starts debates on topics brought to the senate and coordinates with the chairs on their specific projects. She is not in charge of creating the legislation though, which she said is a common misconception.

“I just get the senators initiated into those positions where they are able to make change,” Tang said.

Tang’s decision to join GSBA her freshman year was due to the fact that she wanted variety in her life at GU. 

“I was a freshman and trying to find ways to get involved on campus,” Tang said. “I always like to do stuff that’s super random, especially since I’m going to be a nurse for the rest of my life, so this is my last chance to do something completely unrelated to the medical field.”

Daniel Grant, a sophomore senator, relates to Tang’s feelings about being in a different role than that is expected of a biology major, along with a number of other members of GSBA.

“I think there is a mix [of majors],” Grant said. “It’s [political science] definitely prominent but I appreciate that there’s some diversity in major because I think it’s important to get opinions from all areas of the school.”

GSBA is an opportunity for students to develop their skills as young professional, and community members on campus and beyond. 

“You can make a real difference, and a lot of people don’t know that,” Grant said.

Lindsey Wilson is a staff writer. Follow her on Twitter: @lindseyrwilson1.

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