Council participation varies amongst colleges

The idea of “student council” at Marquette is not easily defined, especially since being a member means something completely different for every council.

Each of Marquette’s six undergraduate colleges houses its own student council. But how the council functions, how many people get involved, and what members do varies significantly from college to college.

Mike Parreno, a senior in the College of Communication and the president of the college’s student council, said the group has struggled with involvement. This year, the council consisted only of three members: Parreno, a vice president and secretary.

Parreno said the small membership makes it difficult to plan events.

“When we started off the year, we wanted to do a lot of events,” he said. “But when we didn’t have a big group and tried to have the e-board do it, it became kind of a mess.”

Other colleges have higher levels of involvement.

The College of Arts & Sciences student council is comprised of two co-presidents, a director of communications and usually between 12 and 18 active participants, said Stephani Richards-Wilson, the group’s adviser.

The College of Business Administration dean’s student advisory council is comprised of presidents from 15 of the college’s student organizations, including the American Marketing Association, International Business Student Organization, Delta Sigma Pi and Women in Business.

The group does not have an executive board. And besides monthly meetings, the council doesn’t host activities or fundraise like a student organization, said  Joseph Terrian, the college’s assistant dean of undergraduate programs.

When Terrian became chair of the council more than 20 years ago, it was unclear to him what the group’s purpose was. Since then, the council has evolved as a way for leaders within the college to stay in contact with the college administrators.

But he doesn’t think the college should bring back an official student council. He said the student advisory council approach seems to satisfy the needs of both students and college staff by giving them a way to interact.

“We like to know what’s going on with them,” he said. “This is my way of staying in touch.”

Richards-Wilson said the Arts & Sciences council is an extremely active student organization, hosting speakers and sponsoring service projects. It doesn’t have an annual budget, but members submit funding requests through Richards-Wilson for each event. The council also partners with other student organizations to pay for events.

“(The College of) Arts & Sciences is the largest and most diverse college,” Richards-Wilson said. “We have almost 50 student organizations for them to participate in, but most of them are specific to a major or department. In the council, students of any interest or major can get together.”

Parreno said the College of Communication allocated its student council with a budget of about $1,500 for the year. With this, the council held a college luncheon, made banners to promote the group and hosted an “Ice Cream and Internships” event with Sheena Carey, the college’s internship coordinator. ML

Parreno said the internship event was extremely beneficial for students, but only eight attended.

The council also provided $700 to help bring former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers to campus.

“We knew we weren’t going to be able to do much else this year,” Parreno said.

But Parreno said the council is important because it’s a way to bring faculty and all communication students together in a vocational, networking and social fashion.

He said he hopes more people will get involved next year.

“The most I’ve seen at a first meeting was three years ago, and there were 15 people,” Parreno said. “My opinion is that people get turned off from it because it’s a little bit lax. Therefore, they don’t respect what we’re trying to do.”

Representatives from other college councils did not respond to interview requests by deadline.