The Early Years-Student Council
Student Government at Gettysburg College began to emerge in the 1909-1910 academic year. By April 1910, its Constitution was approved by the students, faculty, and the Board of Trustees, creating the Student Council composed of four seniors, three juniors, two sophomores, and one freshman. According to its constitution, the purpose of the student government was "to strive for the betterment of student conditions at Gettysburg and provide in every possible way for the maintenance of student morale."
At the start of the 1910-1911 academic year the Student Council first met on September 16, 1910 in the College Library once located in Glatfelter Hall. The Student Council inherited additional responsibilities over time. In 1916, the new honor system was adopted by the college and its administration fell to the Student Council. While the current Honor Code is overseen by a separate body of students, called the Honor Commission, the Student Senate still plays an instrumental role in the revision and education of the honor policies.
The college catalogue lists the ten members of the Student Council from 1911 to 1942. The Student Council's composition remained the same until 1942, even though several new Constitutions were adopted in its first thirty-two years.
The Campus Senate Years
In 1942 Gettysburg's student government underwent a major change. It changed its name from the Student Council to the Campus Senate and dramatically expanded its composition, including: one representative chosen by each of the eleven fraternities, one representative chosen by each of the two sororities, one representative chosen by each of the non-fraternity men and non-sorority women, and four faculty members. This structure continued until the Fall of 1956 when Willard Paul, President of the College, founded the Student Senate.
The Establishment of the Student Senate
The Student Senate's authority was granted by the Board of Trustees, who approved its Constitution. The Senate structure transition slightly, to consist of elected representatives from each fraternity and sorority, from men's and women's non-Greek groups, and four faculty members. One year after the restructuring, the President of the College delegated the responsibility over much of the student discipline to the Student Senate - the faculty and administration held the power to review an decisions made by the Student Senate. Today's Senate is responsible for appointing the members of Student Conduct Review Board, the current system to student disciple.
In 1962, the Student Senate created "The Gettysburg Review" a journal that published meritorious student papers for the benefit of the entire campus community. It ran until 1975. The College restarted the publication of this literary journal, at which time its contents were expanded to include world-renowned authors and poets. Today's Gettysburg Review is considered on the top literary journals in existence.
Since the 1970's, the structure of the Student Senate has transitioned in structure and responsibility. Today, the Senate is comprised of an elected Executive Committee, a Board of Directors, and seven elected representatives from each class year. The recent Student Senate has accomplished many efforts on behalf of the students. Through the implementation of a Student Activities Fee, the elimination of the Academic Portfolio, and assisting with the revising of the Honor Code and various student conduct policies, the Student Senate continues to make a difference in the Gettysburg College Community.
The 100th Anniversary of Student Government at Gettysburg College, occurs during the 2010-2011 Academic Year.