Press Clippings & Releases

ASGA to Train Student Leaders in Albania

Contact: W.H. “Butch” Oxendine, Jr., Executive Director
American Student Government Association
Phone: 352-373-6907 (office) or 352-258-4604 (cell)

U.S. State Department Asks American Student Government Association to Train Student Leaders in Albania

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA (June 9, 2006) - Steve Wymer, Communications Director for the American Student Government Association (, leaves for Albania Saturday on a 10-day trip to train Albanian students, government officials, and the national Albanian Student Association.

As an official delegate from the U.S. Department of State, Wymer will work with Albanian officials to increase and improve the quality of student engagement in the process of Albanian higher education reform as part of a larger process of revitalizing and democratizing university life.

Wymer’s program will involve training Albanian student governments in establishing and strengthening their organization’s structures, holding elections, communications, successful advocacy strategies, government-student reporting techniques, as well as public relations and media strategies. Wymer also will have meetings with Ministry of Education officials overseeing implementation of legislation pertinent to student governments.

“I am really looking forward to the experience, and playing a very small part in growth of this emerging democracy in the Balkans,” Wymer says. “As one of the ‘youngest’ countries in Europe, higher education will undoubtedly have a tremendous impact on the political future of the country. Albania has been a democracy for only 14 years, and the average age in the country is just 28 years old.

“As I travel to universities across the country and lead training sessions with government leaders in the capitol city of Tirana,” Wymer says, “I expect all 10 days of training to be intense exchanges of dialogue and ideas for the students, academics, and politicians.

“It is my hope that the experience is fruitful for the Albanians, and also provides me with valuable insights to share with ASGA member institutions and the attendees at our ASGA-sponsored conferences in the United States,” Wymer says.

According to the State Department, this program supports their efforts to help foster democratic and transparent practices in higher education through greater student participation in Albanian universities.

Inga McMichael, Program Officer for the Bureau of International Information Programs, Economic Security and U.S. Society and Values Teams, says the lingering communist legacy of weak civil society, a lack of any tradition of student representative organs, and a distrust in student organizations on the part of university administrators in particular, make it hard for organizations that represent students to truly be advocates for their interests. “Despite legislation that mandates the establishment of student governments in universities, the existing organizations lack much needed experience and training and are still in their early steps of consolidating their structures, legitimacy, exposure, and image,” McMichael says. “Several Albanian universities have no student representative structures at all. Meanwhile, students in all Albanian universities continuously voice a desire for change and a voice in higher education reform, especially in light of such problems as poor facilities, a lack of basic educational resources, poorly trained faculty, and endemic corruption.”

Wymer is a former three-term student body president at Washington State University, and now serves as ASGA’s director of communications. He also is a frequent speaker and consultant on student government issues at conferences.

“A speaker from the United States, where there is a strong tradition of active student governments at universities, is in a perfect position to share the experience of how independent representative student organizations have developed, operated, and effectively represented student interests in American universities,” McMichael says.

“ASGA is proud to be asked by the U.S. Department of State to serve our nation in spreading the message of free and open student governance,” says W.H. “Butch” Oxendine, Jr., ASGA executive director. “We believe that effective SG organizations contribute to the health of higher education institutions and also train future public servants.”