When it comes to getting involved on campus, it’s hard to know where to begin. From the first week of college, my RA advised his residents to find their place on campus through joining a club, a musical group, a community service organization, or student government. While I did not participate in student government in high school because I felt that it was a glorified popularity contest, I decided that college was the place for me to finally take the step to represent my student body and make an impact!
Where to begin?
Freshman campaigning takes place at the beginning of fall semester. Students can campaign to be a member of Hall Council, Class Council, or the Students’ Association (SA) as a senator. After attending a mandatory information session about student government on campus, I registered online with a bio and my platform. Campaigning lasted for about a week and students advertised through social media, the SA website (which had their bio and platform), and flyers. Students also chalked the sidewalks and went around the residence halls making speeches about their goals and what they would do if elected.
How it works
Hall Council: There are two places a freshman can live during their first semester: the Residential Quad or Susan B. Anthony Hall. There is a hall council for each residence hall and there are four elected positions for each hall council executive board (e-board). Each hall council e-board has ambassadors to vote on all proposals the e-board makes. If someone wants to be involved in student government without the commitment of running programs, they can be an ambassador, which does not involve campaigning and only requires one meeting a week with the e-board!
Class Council: Class council has eight members and they put on large events for all members of their class. After campaigning, the eight selected members perform an internal vote to determine who is assigned what position. Class council organizes events such as Spirit Week, which takes place during the first full week of classes of the spring semester. Some of the activities include bowling, roller skating, and a luau dinner. Each class council also co-sponsors other class councils as well as other clubs that don’t have sufficient funds to run their events.
Students’ Association: If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you could campaign to be a senator for Students’ Association. SA has an executive branch, a legislative branch, and an All-Campus Judicial Council (ACJC), which serves as a hearing panel to address alleged violations of student conduct standards. The executive branch consists of a president, a vice president, and a cabinet. The legislative branch consists of the senate, which has eighteen senators who represent the concerns of students, hold the executive branch accountable, and pass legislation. The Senators also have to reside on committee and work with aides on each committee. You can apply to be an executive or legislative aide and join a committee without the hassle of campaigning. For example, you can be an accountant on the Students’ Association Appropriations Committee (SAAC). Without the aides, work wouldn’t get done because eighteen senators cannot run all of SA.
I am the Director of Community Development for Susan B. Anthony’s Hall Council and I work to put together our monthly programs. So far, we’ve put together some programs, including a Monday night football program, a candy-gram sale for the holidays, and a Saturday morning breakfast!
Being a part of Hall Council has allowed me to meet some incredible people with all different kinds of interests, unlike many other clubs where you tend to meet people with only very similar interests. I’ve been able to put on fun programs for my fellow hallmates and become closer to other freshmen. Student government can be for everyone! You don’t need to be outgoing to have a say in what happens on campus; you just have to have the interest and a few hours a week to make a difference.