Our History

112 years of working for you

Learn more about the history of the Student Senate.

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 Middle years- Campus Senate

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 Later Years- Student Senate

The Student Senate's authority was granted by the Board of Trustees, who approved its Constitution. The Senate structure transitioned 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. The Gettysburg Review was considered one of the top literary journals in existence until it was dissolved in 2023.

Since the 1970's, the Student Senate has transitioned in structure and responsibility. Today, the Senate is comprised of an elected Executive Committee, a Board of Committee Chairs, and seven elected representatives from each class year. The Student Senate 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 made influential changes within the college.

The 110th Anniversary of Student Government at Gettysburg College, occurred during the 2020-2021 Academic Year.


In 2022, the Senate overhauled its Constitution in the most sweeping change since the 1970s. The structure of the Student Senate remained intact, the changes addressed problems faced in the aftermath of a global pandemic and creating a more representative body reflecting the College's changing student population. The Senate continues to work in the best interest of the student body and campus community.

In 2023, the Senate changed its fiscal policy to create a new anchor event provision to ensure that events run by students for students would always be funded.