ASA chose Myah Dinger as its first Augie Access senator last week in an attempt to increase the diversity of the student senate.
Dinger said she is most excited about getting to know new people, hearing their ideas and attempting to make the campus a better place.
“To be honest, I’m pretty excited,” Dinger said. “Being in this situation, it may be a good opportunity to give out some good ideas and make Augustana a good place.”
Senior Abel Negash, chair of the personnel and development committee, first proposed the Augie Access senator position.
Negash and Katelyn Graber, ASA president, approached Jessica Lamb, program coordinator for Augie Access, with the idea.
To choose the student who would become senator, Lamb sent out an email to all 14 of the Augie Access students, letting them know that anyone could apply.
After receiving two applications, Lamb met with Graber and Negash to discuss which candidate was the better choice at this time.
Lamb said that Dinger would make a good senator because she is professional, inquisitive and full of good ideas.
“Since the beginning of last year, Myah has come to me with some various ideas that she has wanted shared with the senate,” Lamb said. “She’s full of these really great ideas, so I knew the interest was there.”
The expectations for the Augie Access senator will be the same as every other senator, with a few exceptions, Graber said. For example, the Augie Access senator will attend all the ASA meetings and hold office hours, but she may have another senator accompany her in office hours the first few times to ensure she feels comfortable.
“Those types of supports are just what help our students navigate Augustana,” Lamb said. “So they’re going to provide another senator to be with her during their office hours until she’s used to it and comfortable. Sometimes students are nervous and they just like to have that extra backup person there to ask questions, but otherwise she will do what any other senator will do.”
Lamb said that ASA will benefit from getting a chance to see things from Dinger’s perspective.
“Students who are in our Augie Access program of course support the university’s mission of diversity and inclusion,” she said. “And to be able to see things from a lens of an Augie Access student just makes our university more welcoming, more inclusive, more open.”
Graber said that she hopes next year’s ASA will continue the Augie Access representative position and that they will learn from this first year’s initiative.
“We think that this will be a great opportunity for the students that are in Augie Access,” she said. “We also think it will be good to hear from them in the senate because they’re a vital part of our campus.”
The Augie Access senator position for this term is being viewed as a pilot program, Jim Bies, dean of students, said. That is why the Augie Access senator was selected by way of application and was appointed instead of being elected by the entirety of the student body, Bies said.
The Augie Access position will be evaluated at the end of the semester to decide whether the position should continue to be appointed or if it should be elected and whether the position should run for a semester rather than a full year, which is typical for an ASA senator.
“By running it as a semester, then more of the students in Augie Access can have a chance to be involved,” said Graber.
The evaluation will also consider whether there are other ways that representation for the Augie Access program can be created in ASA, said Bies.
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