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Press Clipping: How to Organize a Student Government This article from Seattlepi.com mentions the American Student Government Association.
How to Organize a Student Government
by Alyssa Sellors, Demand Media
The purpose of student government is to teach and promote leadership skills among students, leading to greater sense of autonomy and empowering the student body as a voice to be heard. Student government generally acts as a liaison between students and administration, although the specific role depends on the age of the students and grade level. Student opinions and concerns are voiced through the student government members, similar to traditional government. Organizing a student government is not highly difficult, but it does take a some hard work and planning to be successful.
Every good leadership organization has a sense of purpose and a common goal. Start with a mission statement and set of bylaws to help ensure all members are there for the same reason. After defining a mission statement and researching bylaws, meet with the administration and discuss the goals for the student government so they are also aware, and can approve the bylaws. You may want to even consider aligning the goals of the student government leadership with that of the school’s leadership, but modifying enough so that the student government leaders empower the students in a positive way. Essentially, you want the student government leaders to have the respect of the administration as well as the students.
Choosing a set of service projects and activities for the school year should be one of the first steps when organizing a student government. You will want to vary projects among different interest groups, to avoid the appearance of bias toward a particular group or organization. These service projects are also important to illustrate student leadership and bring about positive student empowerment. The student government should consider getting feedback from administration and faculty as to what service projects are available to consider. You also want to do your research. A student government generally should not choose projects that other clubs or organizations are already doing, and the projects should reflect the goals of the mission statement and school as a whole.
Student Body Engagement
As with any election, the process should be as transparent and organized as possible. Students who choose to run for leadership positions such as student body president or treasurer should be aware of their role early on. When holding elections, allow each candidate to hold his or her own campaign but also meet often to ensure a fair process. In the beginning, set dates and publicize these dates to the student body. Make the voting process easy and consider going online and taking advantage of free voting programs such as SurveyMonkey. Organize dates and times for candidate speeches, which can also be televised over school televisions or online, and be clear with voting cutoff dates. Once all votes are cast, the adviser should make arrangements for tallying the votes, if not automated online, and announcements of winners should be made promptly.
Great resources for any new or existing student government organization are national organizations specifically designed for student government needs. National organizations, such as the American Student Government Association (ASGA), can offer support, resources and guidance. These organizations offer expert help that include help with drafting key documents, training new officers and members, and connecting with your peers. Another excellent organization for student council members is the National Association of Student Councils (NASC). Similarly, this organization provides necessary support and resources to the leadership team and members of student council members with tips on how conduct voting or choosing the right service projects for your school.
ASGA's MISSION STATEMENT:
The American Student Government Association will provide all Student Government leaders and advisors nationwide with networking, research, and information resources and will teach them how to become more effective, ethical, and influential leaders on their campuses. ASGA also will promote the advancement of SGs, conduct research as the nation’s only “SG Think Tank,” and advocate the importance of having a vibrant, autonomous Student Government organization at every institution in America.