By James Cousins & James Gerencser

The Dickinson College Student Senate (DCSS) was founded in April of 1908 as a male-only organization designed to both represent and organize the student body of the college. Like the Student Senate of the 21st century, the earliest Dickinson Student Senates focused on being the voice of the students, ensuring that the administration, faculty and staff were aware of the student community’s opinions and suggestions about issues ranging from housing to academic schedules. In 1936, the Senate was integrated to include women, and a preexisting female-only governmental assembly was officially incorporated into the membership of the Senate.

Since its inception, the Dickinson College Student Senate has been responsible for approving, reviewing and funding student organizations. The origins of the CAEC (Constitutional and Election Affairs Committee) and the Finance Committee are found in the original Governance agreement between the students and the administration and faculty that permitted the formation of a student-run governmental assembly. This Governance agreement is the fundamental foundation document of the DCSS and ensures limits of student self-governance as it pertains to Senatorial powers.

Later expansions of Senatorial mandate occurred in the 1970s and 80s, when the precursors of the current All-College Committees were tested. These committees were essentially the college’s preexisting administrative and staff committees assigned to review academics, finances and other broad topics. During this period in Dickinson history, students were asked to become members of these once restricted and confidential committees with the intent of providing the students with a voice at the highest levels of operational decision-making in the school.

As of the Summer of 2004, the Dickinson College Archives have begun to organize and collect the once scattered documents of the DCSS into a coherent collective record. These documents include lists of past Presidents, minutes, agendas and budgets. There is also a limited collection of Presidential journals and papers available for review. Entitled the, “Dickinson College Student Senate Collection,” this archive will continue to grow, and as more research is done the history of the DCSS, as provided on this website, will begin to expand into a narrative of the evolution of student self-governance at Dickinson College.

Student Senate is a great source of information about the College especially in the areas of finance, policies and the College curriculum. We encourage students to take advantage of Senate by joining us for a Senate meeting. Our weekly meetings are held Tuesday from 6pm-8pm in the Temple of Minerva (Denny 317).
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