University of Minnesota

Student Senate Handbook


Prepared by the Student Senate Consultative Committee
Revised: August 22, 2013


ACA: Advisory Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics
AHC: Academic Health Center
CLE: Council on Liberal Education
COGS: Council of Graduate Students
C on C: Senate Committee on Committees
CSA: Crookston Student Association
EFS: Enterprise Financial System
ESUP: Enterprise System Upgrade Project
FAOCIA Faculty Academic Oversight Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics
FCC: Faculty Consultative Committee
GAPSA: Graduate and Professional Student Assembly
MCSA: Morris Campus Student Association
MSA: Minnesota Student Association
MSLC: Minnesota Student Legislative Coalition
RSA: Rochester Student Association
SAIC: Student Academic Integrity Committee
SCC: Senate Consultative Committee
SCEP: Senate Committee on Educational Policy
SCFA: Senate Committee on Faculty Affairs
SCFP: Senate Committee on Finance and Planning
SCIT: Senate Committee on Information Technology
SCSA: Senate Committee on Student Affairs
SSCC: Student Senate Consultative Committee
UMDSA: Duluth Student Association

I. INTRODUCTION -- Senate Role and Structure

A. University Senate
The University Senate is the highest body of participatory government at the University of Minnesota. The Senate has general legislative authority over administrative matters concerning more than one campus or the University as a whole. While it does not have prescribed responsibilities, it may deal with any issue that affects the academic mission of the University or the general welfare of faculty, academic professionals, civil service employees, and students. Policies and other actions approved by the Senate are forwarded to the President, and when appropriate the Board of Regents, for consideration and action. Once Senate policies are approved by the President (and Regents), the action becomes University policy. The Senate also influences University policy through the passage of resolutions and statements that reflect the opinions of the faculty, academic professional, civil service employees, and students. The president of the University serves as the chair of the Senate.

When appropriate, the University Senate subdivides into the Faculty Senate (faculty/academic professional representatives of the U Senate), P&A Senate (academic professional and administrator representatives, some of whom serve in the U Senate), Civil Service Senate (civil service representatives, some of whom serve in the U Senate), and the Student Senate (student representatives of the U Senate). In general, functions allocated to the Faculty Senate include, but are not limited to, educational matters, designation and granting of honors, and policies concerning faculty appointment and tenure. The Student Senate discusses and acts on any matters that affect students. In recent years, the Student Senate has previewed certain items that are scheduled to appear on the Senate agenda in order to better present the student voice on a given topic.

B. Campus Assemblies
Each campus has its own assembly which includes student representation. On the Twin Cities campus, the Twin Cities representatives to the University Senate form the membership of the Twin Cities Delegation. The president of the University serves as chair. The campus assemblies address issues specific to their campus.

C. Makeup of the Senate
University senators include faculty, academic professionals, civil service employees, and students elected by their respective colleges/units. All degree-seeking students shall be eligible to vote and to be elected to the Student Senate.

Eligible students elect from their ranks 50 Student Senate members, who shall be distributed among the colleges and campuses in proportion to the number of students in those units. Each college at Duluth and the Twin Cities, as well as Rochester, shall be guaranteed one student senator. Morris and Crookston will be guaranteed a minimum of two student senators.

D. Senate Meetings
In general, the University Senate, Faculty Senate, and Student Senate meet consecutively at least five Thursdays per academic year (see schedule). Special meetings of any Senate may be called by the appropriate consultative committee, the President, or upon written request of ten members of the Senate in question.

E. Senate Consultative Committees
The steering and executive committee of the University Senate is the Senate Consultative Committee (SCC), which consists of elected faculty, academic professional, civil service employees, and students from all five campuses. This committee sets the Senate agenda and traditionally serves as an important forum for policy discussion and decision-making. As with the full Senate, this committee consists of two constituent bodies, the Faculty Consultative Committee (FCC), P&A Consultative Committee (PACC), Civil Service Consultative Committee (CSCC), and the Student Senate Consultative Committee (SSCC). All serve as the steering and executive committees of their respective Senates. Their roles are similar to that of the full SCC on a more specific level. The chair of the FCC serves as the chair of the SCC.

The SSCC includes four Twin Cities representatives (2 GAPSA and 2 MSA), one representative each from the Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester campuses, and the chair and vice chair of the Student Senate.

F. Other Senate Committees
The Senate committees are the work-horses of the Senate. All senators are encouraged to serve on one of the approximately 19 standing Senate committees and subcommittees. Appointments are made by the Committee on Committees (C on C). Most issues that come before the University Senate originate from a Senate committee. The listing of committees, with short descriptions, can be found at: .

G. Student Senate Officers
There are two officers of the Student Senate. The chair of the Student Senate/SSCC is elected by the newly-elected Student Senate members at the last regularly scheduled meeting of the year. The vice chair of the Student Senate/SSCC is elected by the newly-elected SSCC at the last regularly scheduled meeting of the year. Each has a number of specific responsibilities.

The Chair of the Student Senate/SSCC may be characterized as the officer responsible for ‘foreign policy,’; i.e. representing students to the full Senate, the University administration, and the external community. This position is also in charge of the Student Senate Consultative Committee (SSCC), which is the main body for bringing student issues to the forefront of the Student Senate. Concerns that do not fall under a particular committee can be brought here and appropriate actions will be taken. At least one member from each student association/assembly serves on this committee and it is the duty of the Chair to ensure that each has its voice heard.

The Vice Chair’s responsibilities are more ‘domestic,’ overseeing the Student Senate Handbook and serving as the liaison with other campus governance bodies They divide committee responsibilities, but the chair normally leads the meetings of the Student Senate. The Chair and Vice Chair of the Student Senate come from different campuses, but in the event that no student from a differing campus accepts the role, then this regulation is waived.

H. Clerk of the Senate
A faculty member will serve as the Clerk of the Senate. The Senate Clerk and Parliamentarian (also a faculty member) are appointed by the President and serve as officers of the University Senate. The Clerk of the Senate prepares the agendas for University Senate meetings. The Senate Office provides full staff support to the Senate, including the standing committees and subcommittees.

Students may direct any questions concerning the Senate or its committees to the Student Senate Liaison, Becky Hippert, 612-626-8743,, University Senate Office, 427 Morrill Hall.

I. University Senate Web Site
Senators are encouraged to utilize the Senate’s web site. The URL is

Included on the web page are Senate meeting schedules; agendas; committee information; reports, policies, and resolutions; the Constitutions, Bylaws, and Rules, and other pertinent information. This site can serve as a primary source of information pertaining to current and past senate discussions and actions. Every senator should acquaint themselves with this site and visit it often.

J. Issues Appropriate to the University Senate or Student Senate
Most University Senate issues arise at the committee level and make their way to the floor of the Senate only after extensive discussion within the appropriate committee(s) and the SCC. However, the Student Senate often works on a less formal basis, with issues arising in the SSCC. In the past, a wide variety of issues have been discussed in the Student Senate, from the approval of new student release questions to a resolution on course book reform. The SSCC and Student Senate handle issues that are more specifically student-oriented, while reserving University-wide initiatives for the full SCC and the University Senate. Tuition, financial aid, student health care, student lobbying, work study, student housing, fees--these are the kinds of issues that should be brought -- at least initially -- to the Student Senate. But within a larger forum of the University Senate, it is at least as important to provide the student perspective on all-University issues such as educational policy, the biennial budget, libraries, etc. Any student Senator can arrange with the SSCC to have an issue brought to the Student Senate, or call for a suspension of the rules to add an item of new business to the agenda. A two-thirds majority approval by those members present and voting is required for this to pass. To ensure appropriate consultation, however, students are encouraged to work through the committee structure.

K. Results of Senate and Student Senate Actions
Issues may be introduced to the University Senate or Student Senate for information, discussion, and/or action. Action items call for a formal vote and the vote becomes part of the permanent record of the body. The Senate has authority to amend its bylaws or rules, but other actions approved by the Senate are formally transmitted by the Clerk of the Senate to the President for consideration and action. Policies approved by the Senate do not become University policy until they are approved by the President and, when appropriate, the Board of Regents. In recent years, most Senate policies have received the endorsement of the President and Regents and, thus, were implemented as University policy. The central administration has also come to regard the Senate as a policy bellwether and consults extensively with Senate committees.


A. Senate
A senator’s primary responsibility is the Senate. Senators must attend all Student Senate and University Senate meetings, and only one unexcused absence is allowed. In the event that you are unable to attend, Senate policy dictates that you find an alternate from your college, and notify the Senate Office of this alteration.

It is imperative that senators come prepared to debate the issues at the Senate meetings. The links to agendas are emailed to all senators and are also posted on the Senate web site ( approximately 10 days prior to the meetings. You have a responsibility to your constituency to be knowledgeable on the issues, to come to the meetings prepared to discuss and vote on the issues, and to report those actions back to your college boards and colleagues.

At the University Senate level, senators must remember that their primary duty is to ‘represent the student population of the entire University .’ While working for the betterment of the University as a whole, it is important to bring the perspective of your constituency to the forefront and be prepared to share in the discussion.

B. Student Boards
It is also important for student senators to report back to their student constituents, which is most often done through the student college boards. Likewise, it is important to bring their perspectives with them as they participate in the Senate and committee discussions.

C. Senate Committees
Senators are encouraged to serve on a Senate committee. The committee topics range from the libraries, educational policy, information technology, to disabilities issues. Also, on each campus, there are administrative advisory committees for the vice presidents, chancellors, and other senior academic officers, as well as committees for items specific to each campus. Committees are the work-horses of the senate and are vital for consultation and discussion of issues prior to those issues reaching the Senate.

D. Student Assemblies
The last major responsibility as a senator is the senator’s respective student assembly. Senators are responsible for attending each meeting of his/her collegiate assembly and keeping him/herself aware of the issues discussed and the opinions presented. The student assemblies are an excellent source of issues that can eventually move to the Senate level, and senators should strive to serve as a link between the Senate and the student assemblies.

E. Student Constituencies
There are several student constituencies at the University of Minnesota, however there are only six that act in a capacity similar to a student government. The relationship between a senator and these six student constituencies varies depending on the campus. The constituencies are Crookston Student Association (CSA), Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA, Twin Cities graduate and professional students) Minnesota Student Association (MSA, Twin Cities undergraduate students), Morris Campus Student Association (MCSA), Rochester Student Association (RSA), and UMD Student Association (UMDSA).


A. What if I can’t make it to a Senate meeting? Who contacts the alternate?
If you are unable to attend a Senate meeting, contact the Senate Office, at 612-626-8743 or It is the senator’s responsibility to find an alternate and pass on the appropriate materials and information to that person. Student senators may ask any student eligible to vote for senators in their collegiate unit to serve as an alternate. The Senate Office should also be provided with the alternate’s name.
NOTE: Student senators forfeit membership by neglecting two meetings of the Senate. “Neglect” for Senate service means failing to attend a meeting (or providing an alternate), or failing to notify the Senate Office of your impending absence.

B. What if I can’t make it to a Committee meeting?
Contact the chair or Senate staff person to notify them of your impending absence. A student member of a committee of the Senate forfeits membership by not attending two meetings of the committee. Senate policy does not provide alternates or proxy voting at meetings of Senate committee.

C. What is quorum? When is it required? Under which circumstances is a majority required?
A quorum is based on the Senate Constitution, a majority of its membership shall constitute a quorum (i.e. one-half, plus one, of all seated members). This number can change, based upon the membership numbers. A quorum is needed to conduct meetings and take action.

D. What are Discussion, Action, and Information items?
Discussion items are items that are up for debate, but are still in the formative stages. Oftentimes, committees will submit an item for discussion to gauge Senate opinion and to gather broader input before it is brought for action at a subsequent meeting.

Items that are brought for action will face a formal vote. In some instances, the vote on an action item is postponed pending further consultation and review.

Information items are used as simply information for the Senate. Information items usually involve resolutions that have been passed at the committee level and want to be presented to the Senate without requiring any action be taken.

E. Who is eligible to run for Student Senate offices? Who can participate on committees?
Any student senator is eligible to run for chair or vice chair of the Student Senate with certain exceptions. (See section I. G, Student Senate Officers, for more details.) A student is eligible to serve on Senate committees so long as they are eligible to be a senator. Students do not need to be a senator to serve on committees. Nominations for committees must be made to the Student Committee on Committees and self-nominations are allowed. It is very highly recommended that all senators serve on a senate committee. See below for joining senate committees.

F. How do I join a Senate committee?
To join a committee, all you need to do is fill out a committee application, which will ask for your preferences and information about yourself. The application is available on the web at: Any additional questions can be directed to Becky Hippert, (612) 626-8743 or

G. How are agendas set, and how do I bring a topic to the agenda?
Refer to Section IV on ‘General Advice’

H. What can I do to help the Student Senate function more effectively?
Refer to Section IV on ‘General Advice.’


A. Advance Preparation
A thorough reading of the Senate docket and attached materials is essential for responsible discussion on the Senate floor. Generally the material is distributed with ample time to consult at least one Senate constituent organization. A senator should expect to speak on the Senate floor and be prepared to assist in the discussion of vital issues. When discussing a new or unfamiliar topic, senators should not assume that a responsible discussion can be carried out by a fraction of the overall Senate population. Form your own considered opinions and be ready to vote.

B. Report to the Constituent Councils
Although most student assemblies do not require their Senators to give regular reports, it provides an excellent opportunity to keep in contact with constituents and to become aware of important issues which could be discussed at future Senate meetings. It is also advisable to keep in contact with the college board which you represent, and request to report Senate activities at their meetings. Use the enclosed form to fill in your contacts for both your student assembly and college board.

C. Help with Student Senate agendas by contacting the Student Senate chair or SSCC chair with items of interest
The Student Senate Consultative Committee relies on the assistance of all student senators in setting responsive and contemporary agendas. Many different issues are discussed at the Student Senate Consultative Committee meetings, and it is essential that these topics are brought to the attention of the Student Senate to allow advance preparation. Historically, many significant Senate issues have also originated in the assemblies. This represents a vital link in the Senate process. Senators should contact the SSCC Chair with agenda items at least one week prior to the meeting (see the SSCC roster at:

D. External Communication
By following the many statewide and national organizations maintaining newsletters, email lists, and Internet information servers, student senators are able to keep up on topics facing their constituencies on a wider level. These issues can be discussed at Senate meetings, SSCC meetings, committee meetings, student assemblies and college board meetings. Additionally, items can be placed in newsletters or email lists to help inform constituents and fellow senators. As World Wide Web pages continue to be developed for student governance organizations, senators will find that this is an effective way of communicating with their colleagues with minimal effort.

E. Keep your eyes and ears open!