Student government leaders explain organizational hierarchy

Student government meets in one of the first meeting of the fall semester (Photo by John Irwin).
Student government meets in one of the first meeting of the fall semester (Photo by John Irwin).

Speaker of the Senate Phil Abbruscato, a junior government and international politics major, believes the quote “Serving you and the needs of the Mason community” accurately represents the role of Student Government at Mason. 

“The biggest responsibility student government has is to appropriately and accurately represent the student body,” Abbruscato said. “It’s as simple as that.”


Student Government is separated into senate and executive branches. The student senate is in charge of passing legislation that includes resolutions that aim to give the opinions of the student body. Student senate holds public meets every Thursday.

The executive branch includes the student body president and vice-president, as well as secretaries and undersecretaries for each department. Members of the executive board focus on certain projects and issues and are responsible for working with student senate to accomplish those projects.

 Student government also includes an independent election and disputes committee that writes the election code each year.

“As chair of the senate, I make sure that the legislative branch of the organization is functioning up to par,” Abbruscato said.

Student body president Jordan Foster encourages all branches of student government to work together.

“If you look at the U.S. government executive branch, our executive branch is mirrored to that,” Foster said. “We have secretaries that are appointed by the president and approved by the senate, and they all have specialized tasks. “

Foster has given secretaries more independence and the ability to be responsible for their individual projects since assuming his role. 

“Since I’ve gotten into the position and been vice president, we’ve actually decentralized the role very much so that there’s a lot of us putting trust into secretaries,” Foster said.

Student body president

According to Foster, his role as student body president consists of more than just one responsibility.

“My role as student body president is pretty much, well everything,” Foster said. “But my biggest role as student government president is being the branch between upper administration and the students.”

Foster is also responsible for meeting with university administrators, vice presidents and the provost to discuss the relationship between administration and student government. 

One of Foster’s main goals for student government this year is to improve Mason’s relationship with state and local government.

“At those levels, admin talks and interacts, but not as much on a student level,” Foster said. “We are trying to reach out as much as we can.” 

Issues related to dining, parking and tuition are still major focus areas for other members of student government, but Foster explained that reaching out to local government is his main priority. 

“We have the same arguments with tuition, student conduct, parking, housing and dining,” Foster said. “Those aren’t the biggest things on my agenda, but they very much so are on other people’s agendas.”

According to Foster, reaching out to local and state government includes student government’s continued involvement in Virginia 21, an organization that works to increase young people’s involvement in the political profess. His outreach, however, will require establishing plans that can be followed in the future.

“One of the biggest roadblocks to reaching out to state and local government is that Student Government hasn’t really done that for five or six years, so I don’t have anybody that I can just easily reach out to,” Foster said. “We’re not starting from scratch, but the only roadmaps we have are ones we would get from a different school.”

Student senators

Student senators participate in different committees dealing with various parts of the university. For example, senators in the university life committee help to raise spirit and deal with issues that fall under the department of university life, such as athletics, green life, and student organizations.

 “We act as liaisons from the student body to administration within those various departments to enhance the experience of the Mason student,” Abbruscato said. “For example, when there are issues with the places you eat on campus, we bring those issues to them and they have them resolved.”

Student senators aim to pass resolutions that state certain opinions of the student body.

“If there is a concern, or someone has an initiative that they feel would better the university as a whole, within those specific departments, they utilize the committees, and they try to work with administrators to see those initiatives,” Abbruscato said.

Student government progress

According to Abbruscato, Mason Student Government has experienced several successes over the past year.

“From small things like the dining committee to the larger scale events such as lobby day, where we went down to Richmond, and basically said that our institution needs more money, and in comparison to other institutions in Virginia, we aren’t getting as much, we hit a whole spectrum of different types of successes,” Abbruscato said.

Abbruscato believes Student Government has come a long way since five or ten years ago.

I feel that our organization has become more relevant on our campus,” Abbuscato said. “By this, I mean that we have grown to a point to a sense of maturity and a point where we’ve been given responsibilities that we may have not had in the past.”

According to Abbruscato, Student Government also formed stronger relationships throughout the university in recent years.

“I feel like bridges that were not necessarily built in the past between Student Government and other facets of the university have been built and have been rebuilt, such as with administration and with different departments,” Abbruscato said. “With certain relationships that may not have existed before, we’ve done a great job with building new ones and expand on the ones that have already existed. “ 

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