The Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) is committed to strengthening the student voice. The Board recognizes the benefits that accrue when students are engaged and are active partners in their education. We also recognize that students are the foundation of the board and it is essential to have students who are connected, listened to and valued.
Student Senate is an advisory group that meets regularly throughout the school year. It is comprised of student representatives from each of our secondary schools. These meetings provide an opportunity for the Senators to act as an advisory body to the Student Trustees, WRDSB, and Board Staff. The Senators provide a perspective on student issues and communicate back to their school’s student body the decisions made by WRDSB. Being involved in Student Senate also provides leadership opportunities for Senators as they advocate and learn the purpose and work of WRDSB.
Membership of the Student Senate consists of:
- Chair/Co-Chairs – current Student Trustees
- 2 Senators from each school
- Board Trustee Mentor
Non-members are welcome to attend senate meetings at any time and are encouraged to participate in discussion.
Roles and Responsibilities of Members
The Chair(s) will be expected to:
- Ensure that the Student Senate agenda is communicated to the members at least one week prior to the meeting
- Ensure that minutes are taken during the meeting and posted on the Student Senate Facebook Page within one week after the meeting
- Facilitate Student Senate meetings by starting on time, keeping meetings on track and maintaining order
- Allow for discussion of student issues, interests and concerns relating to the board as a whole
- Prior to the the agenda being posted, the Chair(s) will ask Students Senators for agenda items
- Provide students with the opportunity for a larger voice and a forum for the exchange of ideas
- Each month at the WRDSB Committee of the Whole Meeting , following each Senate meeting, the Student Trustees will report back and update WRDSB on issues, discussions and decisions made by the Student Senate
- Student Trustees will address the WRDSB as issues arise within the school year
The Senator’s role is to be a link between their school and the Student Senate. Student Senators will be expected to:
- Senators are liaisons between the Board’s Student Senate and their individual school
- Attend all Senate meetings. If unable to attend will notify Chair(s) of their absence and if possible arrange another student to attend in their place
- Advertise Student Senate meetings to their school community
- Student Senators should read over agenda items and share important information with peers/school contact to gather information or ideas to bring to the meeting
- Student Senators are encouraged to bring forth agenda items to Student Trustees
- Assist the Student Trustees in determining student issues, gathering student opinion, and communicating with students so they can better represent their school community at the board table
- Communicate to their school community and Activities Council what was discussed/decided at the Student Senate meetings
- Student Senate members are encouraged to meet regularly with their Principal to share information from Student Senate meetings
- Student Senate members should regularly attend school council meetings to share student voice by reporting on Student Senate meetings
- Be a positive ambassador and leader
Student Senator Selection Process
- In April/May, Senior Board Staff will contact each Secondary School Administration asking them to identify a minimum of one or two students from their school to serve as a Student Senator(s) on the Student Senate for the following year
- It is encouraged to have a senior student and a junior student (who can mentor the new junior student the following year)
- Schools have flexibility in how they identify their Student Senators. The process can be a school-wide election or asking for expressions of interest.
- New Student Senators will attend their first Senate meeting in May and continue until the following year
Board Trustee Mentor(s)
A Trustee Mentor is an elected Trustee of the board whose role is to serve as a mentor for the Student Trustees and to the Student Senate. Trustee Mentor(s) will be expected to:
- Attend all Student Senate meetings
- Provide guidance and orientation to the Student Trustees
- Understand Board policies and procedures
- Answer relevant questions of the Student Trustees or the Student Senators
- All the Student Senators will be asked to sign a Roles and Responsibilities document
- All Student Senate meetings will take place on the first Wednesday of every month at the WRDSB Education Center in the Cambridge room at 7:00 P.M. These meetings will be approximately 2 hours in length
- Minutes will be taken by Chair(s) or a volunteer appointed by the Chair (s)
- Meetings may be cancelled due to inclement weather or other circumstances – it is the responsibility of the Senator to check the Facebook page on the day of the meeting by 3:00 pm to ensure that the meeting has not been cancelled. It is the responsibility of the Student Trustees at the discretion of the Board and/or the Student Trustee Mentor to make the call on cancelling a meeting.
Decision Making Process
- Whenever possible, the Student Senate will attempt to reach a decision by consensus
- If unable to reach consensus a vote can be called at the discretion of the chair(s) and majority rules
- Each Secondary School in attendance shall have one vote
- Each Secondary School has the option of abstaining
- If a Secondary School is not in attendance then their vote will not be counted
- Votes will be indicated by a show or hands or by a secret ballot – this is at the discretion of the chair(s) Student Trustee Elections are conducted by secret ballot
- The primary mode of communication for Student Senate will be through Facebook and email.
- Current Student Trustees are administrators of Facebook and will add new members
- Agendas for Student Senate will be posted on Facebook at least one week prior to the meeting.
- Minutes will be posted on Facebook within one week after the meeting
- Student Senators are expected to check Facebook for information about meeting times, agenda items and any changes to them
- Student Trustees will report back to WRDSB monthly after each Student Senate Meeting
- The Terms of Reference will be reviewed and updated yearly by both the outgoing and incoming Student Trustees