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How ASGA Can Help You

Small Colleges & Universities

Whether they're public, private, or community colleges, smaller schools pose both advantages and disadvantages for Student Government. While a smaller enrollment can make it easier to survey the student body and reach out to individuals, it can also mean fewer potential SG members, fewer financial resources, and less administrative commitment to student governance than at larger-enrollment institutions. In addition, the "everyone knows everyone" atmosphere on campus can perpetuate gossip, making it difficult to protect SG's image.

Because of these challenges, small-college SGs are often "up and down" in their levels of effectiveness. They usually have a few strong leaders for a year or two, but then slip badly after those officers graduate. Just about every other year, members have to rebuild their organizations from scratch.

We understand the unique problems that you face—our executive director was an SGA vice president and newspaper editor at a small institution. ASGA has developed strategies which can help small-college SGs:

1. Improve Infrastructure and Structure. This includes crafting strong governing documents such as your constitution, bylaws, job descriptions, and election codes, so that you don't have to amend them constantly. We'll also help you determine what SG structure is most logical to serve your student body, ensuring that each position is filled and has a purpose.

2. Set an Agenda. ASGA will examine your resources and campus politics in order to develop a plan of action that's realistic and attainable for the coming year. A pragmatic agenda and achievable goals will maximize your limited manpower and resources, making you appear more credible to students and the administration. 

3. Recruit and Retain Members. At small-enrollment institutions, finding the students on campus who are willing and competent to serve is essential. ASGA can help you create a strategic plan to recruit members, retain the ones you have, and move toward having contested races in your elections. We also offer member-retention tools, such as parliamentary-procedure teaching materials and tips for making your meetings more effective.

4. Develop "Signature" Programs. When you have limited resources, it's important to focus on a few projects that you can actually accomplish. After surveying the student body to find out exactly what services they want, you can search the SG Database for examples of best practices at other colleges and universities. We'll also point you to time-tested programs and projects which get tangible results and will capture the attention (and respect) of your students and administrators.

5. Train Members and Advisors. At conferences and through consulting, ASGA can train your new officers and members so that they know their roles and can serve efficiently and competently, maximizing your small team. We also provide resources and peer networks that can help your advisor grow and improve.
  6. Improve Your Image and Participation. We can help you clarify your role on campus, then create a marketing campaign to effectively promote your programs and projects. Your organization has a much better chance of survival if the student body knows that you exist and have a clear purpose.

7. Connect With Peers. The SG Database, training events, and online forums provide opportunities to exchange ideas and network with SG members from similar institutions across the country. You can increase your authority on issues by developing coalitions with nearby SGs and brainstorming solutions together.

8. Gain Control of Funding. Getting control of your finances and knowing how to stretch limited funds can accelerate your development as an organization. ASGA can help you make a case for more funding, get better control of the funds you do have, and eventually gain funding authority over other campus organizations—a sure way to improve your credibility with students and administrators.

9. Improve Relations With Administrators. When you have limited resources, making the administration an ally and collaborating on projects will make you more effective. ASGA provides tips for improving SG credibility, from proper etiquette to reopening lines of communication. More respect from administrators can also lead to gains such as SG office space, a student trustee position, additional funding, and being entrusted with more campus responsibilities.

10. Draft Transition Materials. 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, providing some continuity from one year to the next.  You can also start a shadowing program and regularly communicate progress to your advisor to keep transitions smooth.

American Student Government Association  

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.

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