You get the emails and the Facebook events. You see the flyers around campus and hear their ads on college radio programs. They are the Student Government Association and they want to make your college life better…
But who or what really is the SGA? Is it the group comprised of those few ambitious individuals on campus looking to get their name on a ballot for an election that so very few students will turn out for? Is it simply a popularity contest? Or is it an organization that can offer students meaningful improvements and a chance for their voice to be heard?
Every school has some kind of student government association, ranging from a small do-nothing organization to a massive body with some serious power. Take the University of Colorado Boulder’s SGA. With a yearly budget of $37 million dollars, they mean business. How do they utilize this money to benefit their student bodies?
“The student government is responsible for a lot of the entertainment and events we get on campus, from concerts to movies to forums,” said University of Notre Dame senior Andrew Schroeder. “You can get valuable experience in interacting with larger organizations, with the people within those organizations and with those outside it whose help you need for various issues and events.”
Some are skeptical of the legitimacy of SGA intentions.
“I think that often the student government is only a popularity thing,” said Duquesne University senior Jessie McClain. “The kids who partake in it usually have no overall effect on the campus and use it only for resume padding, so to speak.”
But many agree that regardless of how effective the SGA may be in improving student life, they at least give the opportunity for students’ voices to be heard. At most schools, the SGA holds a weekly meeting and allows all students to sit in and give an opinion.
This month, at Johns Hopkins University, the SGA is currently finishing a campaign to encourage students to submit ideas on how to make the campus a better place. They are offering $1,000 dollars to the student with the winning idea for its implementation.
Additionally, the SGA is often the best way to have your voice heard in the school administration. The school administrators and even the Board of Trustees will hear proposals by SGA officials on numerous school issues. These proposals can stem from an SGA member or simply from the students at large.
Popularity contest or not, the SGA has the power to improve student life. Whether you run for a position or simply supply some valuable ideas, it is an important way for your ideas to make a difference.
Photo: William Brawley at flickr.com