In more than a half-dozen meetings since the Senate first convened in early November, the 36-member body has not passed a single resolution and has yet to finalize its own working bylaws. Last month the senators approved new bylaws for GUSA’s executive election, and they hope to finalize the Senate’s bylaws before the end of this month.

“We’re still getting our feet wet,” said Christina Goodlander (SFS ’07), who has been Senate speaker since Nov. 14. “Right now we’re just working on establishing ourselves.”

“I think that we’ve done more infrastructure changes than tangible changes,” she added.

Kahlil Hibri (SFS ’07), a Senate member who was elected to the GUSA Assembly, which passed out of existence following the success of the constitutional referendum last October, said one of the reasons why the Senate has not contributed any visible changes on campus since its establishment stems from confusion surrounding the body’s mission.

“We don’t really know what we’re supposed to do,” Hibri said. “Do we lobby like the executive? We can be an advocate for students.”

Pravin Rajan (SFS ’07), chair of the Senate’s Student Life Committee and former GUSA president, said the Senate is still in its nascent stage.

“I think that the Senate and the creation of the Senate was a good thing, but a lot more has to be done for an effective Student Association,” Rajan said. “I think it’s a good and necessary step up from the Assembly, but it isn’t the end,” he added.

More than 3,000 students voted in favor of creating the Senate in the Oct. 12 referendum. The Senate differs markedly from the former GUSA Assembly because its members are elected from geographical districts on campus, rather than at-large by class. The Senate is also given broad constitutional authority to apportion funds among different student activities on campus.

GUSA leaders have repeatedly said that allowing students to elect representatives in small, geographically based districts makes each senator more accountable to his or her constituency. But many students said that they have had little contact with their representatives, and most said that they do not even know their senator’s name.

Of over 100 students questioned on various floors in New South Hall and Village C West, under 20 percent were able to name their senator.

New South resident Anamaria Ferferi (MSB ’10) said that she has yet to see the benefits of geographic representation. She said that her representative has established a Facebook group and sent a few e-mails and Facebook messages to constituents, but could not name much else that he has done.

“I haven’t seen him do anything for New South,” she said.

Mike Jiwani (MSB ’10), who lives in a different district in New South, accurately named his representative but could not describe any of his work on behalf of the community.

“He might have sent an e-mail a while ago,” Jiwani said. “I don’t even know what the GUSA representatives’ responsibilities are,” he added.

Starting next week, several Senate members will begin meeting with leaders from several other student organizations and Director of Student Programs Martha Swanson to decide on appropriations for student activities.

In recent weeks, numerous senators have begun pushing specific regulations they believe will structurally improve the new body. Rajan and Senator Alex Johnston (SFS ’08) plan to propose a set of bylaws in an upcoming meeting that would call for the formation of several groups composed of students, senators and university administrators, which they believe will help facilitate dialogue between senators and administrators.

The groups, which have been tentatively called “action teams,” will each focus on a particular topic pertinent to the university community and will provide more formal measures to make senators more active on campus, Rajan said. If approved by the Senate, the action teams will be open to all students.

“Students can’t look up to a student government to solve problems because it isn’t a student government. What they need to look to is an organization that empowers them,” Rajan said.

“That way the purpose of GUSA moves away from discussion and moves towards action. Students need to be involved,” he added.

Reggie Greer (COL ’09), the Senate’s vice speaker and chair of its Ways and Means Committee, agreed with many of Rajan’s ideas.

“We are not only a representing body but a facilitating body as well,” he said of the proposal. “Action teams consist of not only senators and members of the executive, but students who feel strongly about certain topics as well. There will be much more cohesion.”

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