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!
The capacity and commitment both to participate constructively with diverse others and to work collectively to address common problems; the practice of working in a pluralistic society and world to improve the quality of people’s lives and the sustainability of the planet; the ability to analyze systems in order to plan and engage in public action; the moral and political courage to take risks to achieve a greater public good.
As colleges and universities across the United States seek to improve the educational opportunities for students that foster a long-term campus climate for positive political learning, we see emergent innovations and promising practices. By developing informed voters by teaching voting basics, information literacy, history and the current state of voting rights, we believe that educators can build a system that benefits our democracy.
Institutions seeking ways to address the increasing divisiveness plaguing our nation’s political discourse are challenged with balancing strong respect for equity and inclusion with protecting free speech. Contrary to inclusion and diversity and freedom of expression being at odds, however, campus leaders can take proactive steps to establish both meaningful protections for those who have experienced past trauma and create spaces for open and honest discourse on fraught topics. For some institutions, re-examining institutional speech and expression policies to identify how they can be made less reliant on free speech zones while still allowing for appropriate planning for campus safety, may bring together campus leaders, students, and the community around a concrete task. Establishing a practice of deliberative dialogue across topics of passionately held different opinions allows for greater exploration and creates capacity for empathy and discussion. Providing resources for higher education professionals for use of safe spaces in pedagogically appropriate ways can help students with histories of trauma, from veterans to survivors of abuse, engage more fully with their educations. This post by NASPA director of policy research and advocacy Teri Lyn Hinds provides starting points and considerations for these approaches.
While it may seem obvious that the more important work for colleges and universities in today’s society is to help their students become citizens who can participate in appropriate discourse no matter their background or viewpoint, I think the important shift may be in, if not appreciating, at least recognizing the value that political polarization may have in inciting civic energy in our students. How we help our students turn that new found (or rediscovered) energy in civic action should be our main focus as civic educators.
In an era of ubiquitous data and data collection, the notion of completing an official count of every person in the United States every ten years may seem outdated. The Census, however, is a vital component in the foundation of our national government. Understanding the importance of the Census and the role it plays in ensuring the health of our representative democracy is essential as we head into the final year of preparation for the 2020 Census. This post by NASPA director of policy research and advocacy, Teri Lyn Hinds, provides a brief history of the Census and how it relates to the United States House of Representatives and the distribution of federal funds before addressing how student affairs professionals can help ensure all members of the campus communities are counted in 2020.
We’re looking for a few volunteers—maybe you?—to serve as thought leaders and planners as we wrestle with how best to convene a meeting intended to generate ideas and energy for tackling some of the biggest issues we face as a democratic society: social and economic injustice; bitter partisanship in our elections and governance; and diminishing funding for higher education, just to name a few.