Mission & History
The University of Kansas Student Senate works to strengthen the ties between the student body and the greater KU community through its role as the student voice within University Governance, working to address and develop lasting solutions to issues facing the student body.
Student government at KU dates back to 1909. Chancellor Frank Strong recommended a student organization be formed in order to resolve disputes between the freshmen and sophomore classes. Specifically, Strong wanted the annual brawls between the two classes to end. He thought that a body formed from representatives of each class could be useful in resolving disputes in a mature manner. Initially, the Student government was divided into men’s and women’s organizations.
The elected representatives were given the opportunity to voice student opinion to the University faculty and had the authority to settle disputes between groups of students. By the 1930’s the student government was publishing a student directory, conducting student forums, and using student activity fees to support a variety of causes, as well as keeping campus traditions alive. At that time, much of student government was dominated by sorority and fraternity members.
In 1943, student rights were threatened when Chancellor Deane Malott decided to shorten Christmas break without consulting the Council. Several other ‘slights’ by the administration caused the representatives to threaten to resign en masse. Immediately, Chancellor Malott called for a ‘peace council’. The result was a new student government composed of both male and female students serving together in a body called the All Student Council. Students were given advisory membership on many University committees. Soon, student government became a mix of many different segments of the university.
All went smoothly until the tumultuous era of the 1960’s. Students became very politically active and demanded more involvement in the control of university life. A committee of students and faculty recommended that the All Student Senate be renamed the KU Student Senate. Instead of 35 members, it would have 95 members. University committees that related to student affairs would now be composed of 50% students.
In the fall of 1969, the KU Student Senate met for the first time. Today, hundreds of thousands of dollars in student fees are allocated to student groups and programs throughout Lawrence each year.