Public Student Governments offer rich leadership experiences which often mirror those of local, state, and federal governments. Many public SGs are organized with multiple branches and executive leadership roles that can prepare students for a diverse array of public-service positions.
Public higher education can also be a complex landscape to navigate, and understanding the power structure is crucial in gaining a voice. Most state constitutions provide explicit direction to your elected representatives regarding the role of SG at public institutions, granting you rights and responsibilities that other SGs might not have. The funding system makes administrators more accountable to you, giving you more recourses when you disagree with their decisions. But as an organization supported by public funds, you're also more accountable to the student body and state taxpayers.
ASGA can help you utilize the many (and sometimes overwhelming) resources at your disposal by:
1. Improving Your Image and Credibility. Although most public SGs provide numerous benefits and services, students often don't realize how much SG does on their behalf. ASGA can help you develop marketing and outreach plans to promote your programs and make the organization more visible, increasing your effectiveness. We can also help you improve relations with the administration, allowing you to become a collaborative partner in determining the focus of your college or university.
2. Mapping Out Feasible Short- and Long-Term Goals. Students and administrators lose respect for SG when officers make bold promises and then can't follow through to execute them. ASGA can provide examples of tried-and-true programs and "tangible benefits" that have worked for other SGs and that you can adopt on your own campus. By marshalling resources effectively and concentrating mostly on short-term projects that matter to students, you can gain more respect and influence, which will help your successors tackle larger long-term projects.
3. Enhancing Transition Plans and Materials. In order to succeed on major initiatives (such as building a new student center), your SG has to continue the work of predecessors, rather than retreading old ground over and over again. Effective transition materials will document what you're supposed to do, what was done last year, and the progress you've already made on projects. Shadowing programs and communicating progress to your advisor will also provide some continuity from one year to the next, allowing you to move forward on mulit-year commitments.
4. Providing Resources to Increase Election Turnout. Most public SGs struggle with turnout at their elections. How can SG be taken seriously as the "official student voice" if most students don't vote for your SG representatives? With online voting, new marketing campaigns, strong PR, and other techniques, you can improve turnout and capture the administration's attention in the process.
5. Supporting Your Student Trustee. Students have a voting position on their board of trustees at approximately half of America's public institutions. ASGA can provide training and perspective on trends around the country that will help your trustee be more effective. If you don't have a student trustee yet, we can cite examples of SGs that have been successful in adding this position from scratch and share how they accomplished that goal.
6. Improving SG Documents and Structure. We'll make sure that your governing documents are strong, so that you won't waste time amending them year after year. We'll also help you determine the most effective structure for your needs. Unfilled cabinet positions and committee chairmanships are inefficient, and it's embarrassing when SG elections have uncontested races. Each SG position should be filled and have a real purpose.
7. Increasing Recruitment and Retention. At public schools—particularly the larger ones—students have a myriad of opportunties and activities available to them, limiting the pool of potential SG members. ASGA can help you devise strategies to bring aboard new members from incoming and current students. We'll also show you how to keep your current officers and members involved and interested in SG business, including techniques for making meetings more efficient and tips on using parliamentary procedure to your advantage.
8. Providing Lobbying Resources and Support. As student advocates, many public SGs head to the state capitol to lobby on issues that matter to their constituents. ASGA has data and contacts for every statewide lobbying group in the nation. By communicating with other groups, you can make your SG and state group more effective. We also have a lobbyist on retainer to answer your specific questions.
9. Creating a "Rolodex" of Local, Regional, and National Colleagues. You can increase your authority on issues by developing coalitions with nearby SGs and "like" institutions across the nation. Through these networking contacts, you can also learn about best practices and brainstorm solutions with peers who have been in your shoes.
10. Training Your Members and Advisor. Attend our training workshops or schedule an ASGA consultation so that your SG officers, members, and advisors will be more prepared for the year ahead and won't waste any time. ASGA's conferences also provide valuable networking opportunities, as well as the chance to present your own research and experiences in front of your peers.