Freshman senators foster competition, follow-through in Student Government

Liberal Arts Senator Tyrin Prichett helps committee member Shalini Verna, an engineering senator, Sept. 25 in the University Center. Prichett is one of many freshman senators this semester.

Political science freshman Tyrin Prichett accidentally applied to the wrong branch of Student Government this fall. 

Prichett assumed that the Legislative Relations Committee he applied for was part of the Legislative Branch, not the Executive Branch. When he let the Student Government Leadership Team know he wanted to be a senator, the problem got resolved following another interview, Prichett said.

“It all went smoothly,” he said. “It was also a lesson learned.”

Now, Prichett is proud to serve as one of the freshmen that make up about half of this semester’s Student Senate.

Cecilia Silva, speaker of the senate, said this ratio of freshmen to veteran senators is typical, especially for a fall semester. She said students usually graduate in the spring, so the fall incidentally brings in more freshmen.

Additionally, students’ circumstances change, and the makeup of the Student Senate usually changes each semester, said Jennifer Fox Taylor, Student Governance assistant director, in an email. Regardless of classification, new senators usually constitute about half of the senate, she said.

Students who don’t participate in campus elections can apply for vacant positions, Silva said. The students will be interviewed and appointed accordingly. While normally senators can be elected for either six-month or one-year terms, appointees are limited to six months. 

Prichett said he wasn’t aware of the organization’s structure because it’s his first semester at the university. However, he understands the importance of having freshman representation within the senate, which is what motivated him to join, he said.

Prichett said the resolutions the senate passes take time to be implemented. Sometimes the freshman senators are more likely than upperclassmen to see the change their resolutions bring.

“We’ve got, ya know, some skin in the game,” he said.

Prichett weighed his pros and cons before applying, and decided that the good outweighed the bad.

“Screw whatever fear I have,” he said about the decision. “Why the hell not.”

Prichett said he went to the same eight-hour training almost all senators get at the beginning of every semester. He said it was a long training, but in retrospect it helped immensely.

The training starts broadly for students to understand the role of the organization as a whole, Silva said. As the day progresses, they go through training tailored to each position.

Although there is only one day of training, the expectations of senators are often reiterated by Silva or Taylor throughout the semester, Silva said.

In addition, every member of the Leadership Team has office hours and encourages members to visit them with questions or concerns, Silva said.

“They do an amazing job,” Prichett said about the team. 

He said the leaders answer his emails quickly, and are always available to help him with any questions he has.

Prichett said it’s important for the senate to bring in fresh perspectives to foster healthy competition.

“Competition in general just, like, sparks innovation,” Prichett said.

Initial expectations can be viewed as unrealistic but can also conducive of raised expectations, he said.

Optimism can yield advantageous results, he said.

Overall, Prichett is confident in his ability to represent the College of Liberal Arts. The training and help he receives is one of the contributing factors to that very confidence.


Dalton Heitmeier is the 86th Texas Legislature beat reporter.

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