On Friday September 12th, NJIT Student Senate left the campus for the weekend for their annual retreat at Frost Valley YMCA Camp in the Catskill Mountains. After a three-hour bus ride, they arrived at the encampment at 8:00 P.M. and essentially lost all contact with the outside world.
The senators were not there to have a fun, relaxing vacation; the senators were there in order to set their goals to improve the NJIT community through their elected positions. The loss of outside communications, such as phone calls and Internet access, was necessary in order to have a focused and dedicated group of individuals ready come up with solutions to NJIT’s problems. Even though everyone was exhausted upon arrival, the Executive Board of the Senate, led by President Alpha Jalloh, started leading team building exercises in order to strengthen the bonds between senators. After getting to know each other and learning about leadership and commitment, the senators finally went to sleep around 1:00 A.M.
Most of the senators were awake at 7 A.M. on a Saturday, to continue the weekend’s initiatives. Team building was done with the X-Clubs and lasted until 12:00 P.M. After lunch, the senators next learned about how to host their feedback sessions, a semesterly gathering of students within their constituency used as an avenue for students to voice their opinions directly. Their next session was about how Student Senate meetings are conducted. Topics ranged from Robert’s Rules of Order, the Student Senate Constitution, the Student Senate Standing Rules, and how to make reports during meetings. This was followed by a presentation by a Student Senate advisor, Donna Minnich, who explained to the senators how to reserve rooms in the Campus Center for events. While this ran into scheduled free time, no one complained.
After dinner, between 6:00 P.M. and 11:00 P.M., the Student Senate worked relentlessly on establishing their S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) and Stretch Goals for the semester. It began by addressing the different complaints and issues from members of the NJIT Student Body. After a long discussion about over 60 different on campus issues, the Student Senate finally came up with their goals, listed below this article.
The Student Senate’s main goals are to help improve the student body’s education and quality of life during and after their lives at NJIT. Any other issues that were not senate-wide goals were assigned to different senators who were fit to take responsibility for them. During Saturday night’s discussion, there were many issues for which plans were created. For example, the replacement of outdated lab equipment will be one of the first goals Student Senate will attempt to accomplish and should serve as a milestone for the new and improved senate.
Senators will also try to hold more feedback sessions and attend events on campus in order to learn about the students and community that they serve. The Senate was so determined to solve every issue presented that the senators did not even want to take a break for s’mores or take five minutes to hike up to the nearby observatory in order to view the twinkling stars. It was not until it was too late in the night to do much other than sit around a campfire or sleep that the Senate finally finished their work.
On Sunday, Senate woke up at 6:45 A.M. and packed up their belongings, quickly showered, and cleaned the cabin. Even on the last day, the senators were still able to get themselves together for another session to meet with their committees. Each senator, while responsible for their constituents, serves on a committee. The committees also came up with their own S.M.A.R.T. and Stretch Goals for the semester. Afterwards, the Senators left the seclusion offered at Frost Valley and returned to NJIT at 4:00 P.M. It was at this time that the Senators walked off of the bus, with smiles on their face, not because they were happy to finally be back home, but because they were ready to execute their plans to improve NJIT.
- Carpool incentive/program
- Lab improvements for chem 2 and physics 1 and 2
- Tiernan lecture hall upgrades
- University wide grade dispute
- Investigate Math 109 and 139
- Senator at each y-club event
- More accessibility to off campus events
- Senate outreach program a month
- Solution to Math 109 and 139 low progression rates
- Overall increase of facility standards
- Improve Senate image on and off campus