The Undergraduate Student Government magic happens inside a few cramped, small and mostly windowless offices in the SAC by the campus community’s most prominent student leaders.
Among them is Lydia Senatus, the current vice president of clubs and organizations. Senatus will retain this position until the end of the academic year after her loss to Ayyan Zubair in the race for USG president in March.
Regardless of the election results, Senatus, a former health science senator, is still making the most of her current role.
“My current position has been more rewarding for me than my past positions only because I have more of a reach,” she said. “If I could have this position for another year, that would be great.”
But she can’t. She didn’t run to retain her position, and she lost her bid for the USG presidency.
Even with her love for her position as VP of clubs and organizations, Senatus, a junior economics major from Brooklyn, thought that the title of president would also be a good fit. After being encouraged by her mother and her boss at her internship, she threw her hat in the ring.
Although “The Party Next Door” won the majority of Executive Council seats, “Leaders I Trust” won the majority of the Senate seats.
“Everyone [who ran] was very qualified, and it was extremely important to have Jaliel Amador, the VP of Student Life in again, especially because of his involvement with Wolfieland,” Senatus said.
Amador was the only candidate running for a position on the Executive Council under the “Leaders I Trust” party who won this year’s election.
Even with her loss, Senatus said she hopes the new council will continue to work on the issues important to her. These include increasing transparency between Stony Brook administrators and students and the establishment of a USG leadership development program to foster the growth of student leaders on campus. Senatus has been in contact with president-elect Zubair, which “was an awkward conversation, but he wanted to work with me,” she said.
One of Senatus’ biggest goals is to make the voice of students louder on campus.
“Lydia has taken a position to be more than just approving clubs, she’s helped them reach the goal of getting a USG budget,” said Thomas Kirnbauer, the administrative director of the Undergraduate Student Government. “She’s been in my office it feels like every day, more than any other Executive Council member, always asking how she can do her job better and to the best of her ability.”
Mary Howley, the USG administrative assistant, also had nothing but praise for Senatus.
“Lydia has been both a role model and leader for student clubs and organizations that make up our campus community,” she said.
Looking ahead to her last year on campus, Senatus said she plans to remain heavily involved. Having been with USG for two years, becoming more active with other clubs and organizations is on her agenda.
Senatus’ best memory of her time with USG belongs to Wolfieland during the fall semester, when USG brought a carnival to campus with a Stony Brook twist.
“The goal was to incorporate clubs and orgs, get a large audience and engage with the campus community,” she said.
Clubs were able to get involved by hosting game booths, where students could earn tickets for prizes such as stuffed animals and t-shirts. USG provided the rides, which included bumper cars, a ferris wheel and a Gravitron.
“It was really exciting having all of these clubs and orgs there,” Senatus said.
Aside from her shifting involvement on campus, Senatus will be busy with her studies. She plans to attend graduate school once she finishes her degree at Stony Brook to earn a master’s degree in international relations and diplomacy.
For now, Senatus will be wrapping up her last few weeks with USG and deciding on what legacy she wants to leave. “I want to be known for being the best VP of Clubs and Orgs in history,” she said, before adding that the need to advocate for students will never end.
“I tried my very best to go far beyond expectations,” she said.
Correction: This story was edited to better reflect the results of the USG election, adding that the “Leaders I Trust” party won a majority of Senate seats.