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!
Implementing civic engagement programs, leadership positions, and dialogue is strategic and has allowed students to participate in something to better their world locally. These residential activities align with the College’s vision of “creating opportunity for our students to achieve successful careers and purposeful lives.” Students who participate in these programs, trainings, and conversations develop a sense of purpose greater than themselves. The goal of civic engagement in the residence halls is to infuse democratic values within the living environment. This infusion shapes student’s character into one that is open-minded, civil, ethical, and empathetic which contribute to the civic ethos that Alfred State desires.
Are you looking to grow your network through a meaningful connection with a colleague from NASPA? Are you a professional looking to give back and invest in a grad student in the field? Are you a grad student looking to broaden your network of support beyond your current institution?
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.