Indiana University Student Senate records, 1938-1979, bulk 1944-1973
Student Government at Indiana University began in 1912 at the suggestion of a faculty
member who wanted to create a student group to police IU athletic events. That year the
university's first Student Council was appointed and began drafting a constitution. The
advent of World War I caused student disinterest in institutionalized student government for
many years to follow. There were, however, many other forms of student government
established before the Student Council, such as the Women's League which was established in
1895 and later became the Women's League Self-Government Association in 1920. The Indiana
Union for Men was created in 1909 and another early form of student government, the Board of
Aeons, was established on March 29, 1921 by President Bryan with membership limited to
junior and senior men.
After World War II, President Herman B Wells helped renew interest in student government
using reverse psychology. He distributed an announcement stating that the university
administration was against the creation of a student government. This caused many students
to demand the re-establishment of an official student governing body. In 1944 such an
official student governing body, the "Student Council", was
recreated consisting of 6 men and 6 women. The Student Council was to uphold the ideals
outlined in the Student Government Constitution with the approval of the President of the
university. Not long after the establishment of the Student Council, the Junior Assembly,
consisting of 27 members, was formed as an advisory body to the Student Council. From these
humble beginnings student government at IU has gained momentum or declined in response to
global, national, or regional events such as World Wars I and II as well as the civil unrest
in the United States in the late sixties. Student government has also undergone numerous
name changes, such as the change from the Student Council to the "Student Senate" in 1948,
then from the Student Senate to the "Student Government" in
1967. In 1974-75 the Student Government was renamed the "Indiana University Student
Association" which it is still known as today.
The Constitution of the Indiana University Student Government states that elected student
leaders will encourage democratic thought and actions in the students at IU as well as
educate the student body in the principles of self-government among other student related
issues. The Student Government consists of three branches: the legislative (the Student
Senate), the executive (the office of the Student Body President), and the judicial (the
Student Supreme Court).
The Student Senate is led by the Student Body Vice-President, who also serves as Speaker of
the Senate. It also consists of four class presidents (Fresh., Soph., Jr., & Sr.), the
presidents of other important student associations (Panhellenic, the Association of Women
Students, etc.), and senators elected by district. Student senators serve one-year terms and
may be elected to concurrent academic years unless they are defeated in their bid for
re-election or they resign. It is required that all student senators attend weekly meetings
from which the minutes in this collection derive.
The Student Body President also serves a one year term and may be elected to concurrent
academic years unless they are defeated in their bid for re-election or they resign. The
Student Body President may appoint, with a 2/3 majority approval of the Student Senate,
executive department heads. He or she has the power to veto Student Senate legislation, and
must make periodic "state of the campus" addresses to the
Senate, among other responsibilities.
The Student Supreme Court consists of 1 Chief Justice and 8 Associate Justices appointed by
the Student Body President with the consent of a 2/3 majority in the Student Senate. The
Student Supreme Court handles the interpretation of the Student Government Constitution, and
the constitutionality of Student Senate legislation, student conduct, and traffic appeals,
among other responsibilities. The Student Conduct Committee, a part of the judicial branch
and consisting of 6 Justices selected by the Student Body President and 6 faculty members
appointed by the President of the university, deals with issues concerning student conduct.
The duties of the Summer Student Senate are very similar to that of the regular Student
Senate, except that there are often interim members depending upon the summer residence of
the Student Body President and other executives, student senators, and student justices.
The Student Senate has been responsible for passing many important bills and resolutions
since its founding. In 1948, in their first official year, the Student Senate was
instrumental in the installation of lights on campus where they were needed and for the
abolishment of the language proficiency as a pre-requisite for graduation. In May 16, 1968 a
bill was passed that established the International Students Council (I.S.C.) to improve the
relations of international students at IU. In April 17, 1968 a resolution was unanimously
passed regarding the creation of open visitation policies determined by each separate
dormitory and Greek house instead of the university.
Throughout the years, the student government at IU has had many charismatic and
controversial members including those holding the highest office, Student Body President. In
1960, Thomas I. Atkins became the first African American student to be elected Student Body
President at a Big 10 university. On April 1, 1964 William Thomas Vokowich was elected
Student Body President by default when other campus parties failed to submit a list of
candidates for office. Guy Loftman, elected Student Body President in 1967 from the
Progressive Reform Party and former president of the IU chapter of S.D.S. (Students for a
Democratic Society), heralded the cause of "Student Power".
Loftman was influential in changing university policies concerning student curfews and
helped establish the Board of Academic Review in which students could, for the first time,
evaluate the performance of the university's faculty. Loftman's administration also
spearheaded an effort to eliminate all forms of discrimination at IU. Following Guy Loftman
was Ted Najam, elected Student Body President in 1969 from the Impact Party. Najam and his
party helped to eliminate regulations on women's curfew hours, changed the open visitation
policies in university housing, and aided in the abolition of off campus housing age
requirements. In 1971, Mary Scifres was the first woman elected Student Body President.