An open letter from the Senate President

Robert Ellis in his own words

Jack Mader

Robert Ellis in his own words


I wanted to take a moment and address some of the misconceptions surrounding the Student Senate this year and respond to some of the articles written in City College News (CCN) this year, with regard to the Senate’s progress or perceived lack there of.

As President I am not one to tout our accomplishments, or efforts, in an attempt to receive any thanks or accolades because of our work. What I do want the students of MCTC to know is that this senate, this cabinet, this year, is going above and beyond to provide the best advocacy for our students than in previous years.

Let me explain how.

First, we’ve logged more work hours. Upon becoming the President Elect in the spring of last year I began my work immediately. I spent the summer meeting with key players within the administration to develop the relationships I would use in my senate work this year.

The remainder of the Cabinet, Secretaries Eigen, Kelly, Toffle, Koomen and Vice President Salone joined my efforts in July. We met several times and took a Cabinet retreat to plan this years work.

Additionally, you can almost always find someone in the senate office. Our commitment to the students of MCTC is around the clock 24 hours a day, and seven days a week.

Second, we’ve created a new Student Senate. The policies and procedures that govern both the Senate and the Student Life Budget Committee (SLBC) have been completely redone.

To address the notion from last year that too much of senate meetings were spent with the Cabinet speaking “at” the assembly instead of “with” the assembly, we created the Diversity and Advocacy committees that meet bi-weekly during our 3 p.m. Wednesday meeting time.

These committees are populated with engaged student leaders, and the improvement over last year in student engagement and involvement is night and day.

This has allowed a whole new picture of the student voice to take shape and gives Senate members more opportunity to work with Cabinet members to develop ideas, review college policy and issues, and take a more active ownership of the Senate process.

We also introduced the position of Inspector General and charted a committee of the same title. Their job is to review all documents, policies and resolutions passed or utilized by the Senate to ensure transparency and that new policies made are student-centric, providing a checks and balance system between the Cabinet and the Assembly.

Thirdly, we have developed a new and improved relationship with the MCTC Administration that, hopefully, will remain past our tenure, that included meetings in the summer, my meetings with President Avelino, and our bi-semester Cabinet-to-Cabinet meetings.

To our student appointments, to the redesigned administration committees, to the constant communications through emails with administrators on the daily, we are in a whole new era of Senate-administration cooperation that is worthy of the “community” that is in our college’s name.

I am very impressed at the commitment from the administration to the voice of students at our college. MCTC administrators have been asking for the student voice for years and now that it is being consistently provided it is being consistently asked for by the good people that work to make our college great every day.

In the CCN we have been criticized for our disputes among our cabinet. We have been accused from the Senate floor for allegedly enforcing our policies inconsistently.

Our Star Group Initiative has taken a lot of criticism from student groups and faculty alike. We want you to know we hear these concerns, take them to heart and strive to make sure we are better every week for it.

I want to say publicly that I appreciate the critics voices. We embrace dissent because of its value to the process. True representation of a constituency as large and varied as our student body is an impossibility without healthy debate that embodies both sides of an issue.

As much as the positive feedback we get from supportive students is integral to our process it is also the criticisms from these same students that also show us the way. I want the MCTC student body to know we are working hard and we are getting results.

FDR said, “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” I’d like to think we have reshaped the Senate this year, and built a new foundation on which an increased involvement in student government can be built.

This new system, while absolutely necessary, has been challenging for everyone in different ways. I want students to know we are committed to making these changes before our term is done in order to leave a system behind that is sustainable and inclusive to all.

The best way to find out what your student government is doing is to attend a Senate meeting and get involved. In addition, our new Secretary of Public Relations, Marc Cameron, is taking steps to put out more press releases with regard to our activity, the progress we have made so far, and our plans for the future.

We are taking steps to to become more transparent and to keep you more informed. More to come.


Robert Ellis

Student Senate President