Welcome to the Student Government Knowledge Community (SGKC)! As the cost of college tuition continues to rise, our institutions operate under an unprecedented amount of scrutiny. What are students gaining from their college experiences? How are colleges and universities building the next generation of leaders? Student governments vary widely in the level of influence they have on students, institutions and the communities at large. As alumni of student governments from across the country and student affairs practitioners, the SGKC believes in the power of student government to affect positive change on and off campus. We will build stronger Student Governments through a focus on improving internal processes and developing best practices that can be widely shared. Join the conversation!
Situation: You have a student leader that you meet with on a regular basis who is concerned about their original career path and asking for time in your meeting to discuss their concerns. You have always had a positive connection with this student as their mentor and are glad to help out as a listening ear. This student is heavily involved in student leadership opportunities and is one of the top student leaders that you have the opportunity to connect with. In the conversation you discover that they are unhappy in their major and are looking to explore other options before they approach their third year at the institution. The student loves their student leadership opportunities, and makes a comment that they “wish I could continue to do what I’m doing as a student leader.” In this moment, you realize your opportunity for suggestions could go down multiple paths. Do you take this opportunity to recruit this student to the field of student affairs? Do you refer them to the career development center on campus? Do you dive deeper into why they are unhappy in their major?
I love working with the upperclassmen student leaders who facilitate the first year experience programs at my institution. They are always an amazing group of students who care deeply for others, inspire collective excitement for the incoming students, and strive to make the new students experience positive in every way.
As the arrival of August signals the inevitable end of summer and return of students to campuses, it is also a time of county and state fairs across the country. Whether you are attending a fair to work a table for your institution and share information about the contributions your campus makes to your community and region or taking some well-deserved time with your family, fairs provide a great excuse to gather with our neighbors. County and state fairs also often offer unique opportunities to meet and talk with candidates for local, state, and federal elections in a more relaxed and un-scripted environment. If you are heading out to your county or state fair and interested in determining where the candidates in your area stand on issues related to higher education, this post by NASPA Director of Policy Research and Advocacy Teri Lyn Hinds will provide some background and tips to get your conversations started.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau statistics, only 33% of young voters between the ages of 18-24 voted in the 2016 general elections. While we as educators in institutions of higher education do need to focus on voter registration and voter education on our campuses, research conducted by M.N. Franklin (Voter Turnout and the Dynamics of Electoral Competition in Established Democracies since 1945) shows that the voter turnout rate when a cohort first becomes eligible to vote has long-term impact. He also shares that young voters are unlikely to vote since they frequently lack knowledge of politics and also become eligible to vote at a time in their lives when they move from their familial homes (and thus are largely separated from older adults). Some like CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement) argue that one way to ameliorate this would be to target high school students in voter registration and education.
Registering students to vote is an important first step in engaging them in our democracy. But how do we help them gain the knowledge and skills to become active citizens? The Civic Engagement Council at Elon University is comprised of faculty, staff, and students from across campus. The Council plans and coordinates a variety of programs to help students approach their civic responsibilities on a deeper level. Programs touch on civic education; deeper dialogue; and race, ethnicity, and faith understanding.
Though not articulated until the 1960s, the one-person, one-vote principle is considered foundational to our representative democracy, echoing in the minds of many the desire of the founding fathers to create a nation “of the people, by the people, for the people”. With the 2020 Census looming, and subsequent mandatory redistricting in all states with more than one congressional district, concerns around ensuring both a complete and accurate census and fair and balanced electoral districts are rising. This post by NASPA director of policy research and advocacy Teri Lyn Hinds explains the relationship between the decennial census and the redistricting process and highlight current threats to ensuring fair representation for everyone in the United States.