New ASB position: What is the senators’ role?

Newly elected ASB Senator-elects Mia Rose Tuifua, Charlie Chen, and Cindy Wang (from left to right). A central focus of the new senator position is on improving student representation and strengthening the relationship between ASB representatives and those they serve, according to sophomore Senator-elect Kelly Tanaka. “I think that having senators or more [ASB] positions overall… per class allows each class to be accurately represented and more represented when it comes to activities and student council,” Tanaka said. (Photo: Lauren Wong)

Managing the treasury, helping run the student activity board, representing Associated Student Body on the state student council and performing fundraising — these are just some of the responsibilities of the newly established position of the ASB Senator at Palo Alto High School.

Two grade-level senators will split up these duties between themselves and work with other officers to fulfill their responsibilities once they join the ASB class next year.

Previously, the student government’s executive council appointed officers to treasurer, secretary, activities manager and other specialized positions. This change will reduce the number of appointed positions from 15 to seven, and the now-empty seats will be filled by the eight new grade-level senators.

Student Activities Director Steven Gallagher said he hopes that this change towards elected posts will increase student interest and participation in ASB.

“One of the goals of ASB this year was to reach more people and get more people involved,” Gallagher said. “The idea behind senators is that each class would have two senators and they’d be splitting different jobs, which will be worked on in the near future.”

Five senators have already been elected to represent next year’s sophomore, junior, and senior classes, with only one candidate running for the junior class seat. Kelly Tanaka and Charlie Chen won the race for sophomore senator, Saumya Kundu was elected junior senator and Cindy Wang joined Mia Rose Tuifua as the representatives of the senior class.

Tanaka is especially interested in the student activities board role that is part of the senator’s job, as she said that prioritizing the hosting of more activities was especially important as the COVID threat lessens.

“Especially coming out of the pandemic, activities are something that’s definitely important for students, and that’s something I really want to work on this year,” Tanaka said.

Tuifua said she wanted to focus on wellness, diversity and inclusion during her tenure. “I hope to achieve the best for wellness and diversity because I think that is where my interest lies most,” Tuifua said. “I’d like to be a good representative for Paly.”

As Senators are to take on the responsibilities of multiple previous positions as well as focus on representing student opinions, some, including current ASB President Johanna Seah, are worried about their workload.

“My biggest fear is taking care of all the responsibilities we [ASB] take accountability for, especially since there is a lot to cover.”

One major focus of this workload will be improving transparency between students and ASB. According to Gallagher, senators will hold regular open meetings to allow students to voice their opinions, suggestions and complaints. Wang feels her position is critical to improving this relationship.

“It was really important to improve transparency between students and ASB,” Wang said.