10 goals student presidents should have in 2010
If you are behind on making your New Year's resolutions, here are some ideas from Steven M. Glickman, the student body president at the University of Maryland, College Park.
1. Advocate WITH students, not just for them
Gather people together to fight for important issues. Last year, the Maryland legislature demanded that the university system's regents implement a policy to regulate pornography and obscene materials on campus. Such a policy would potentially restrict entertainment events and the freedom of speech. We organized a free speech forum that allowed students and student groups to voice their opinions on the topic. The regents eventually unanimously decided not to adopt a policy.
2. Improve student services
Look at current services offered by the student government and the university and see how they can be enhanced. At the University of Maryland, one of the most important but often stressful times of the year is registration. In order to improve this experience, we teamed up with Semesterly, a Web tool that offers information about available classes and allows students to compare class schedules with their friends. It even offers links to the cheapest places to buy textbooks. The best part: It didn't cost us a cent.
3. Decrease apathy but don't try to be everything to everyone all the time
Work with students and student groups on issues they specifically care about or ones in which they have a stake. This starts with letting students know what you can do for them. If they know how you can help, they will be more likely to seek your assistance.
4. Team up with student groups for events rather than always solo hosting
Co-hosting events will not only increase attendance, but it will also allow the student government to reach a wider range of students and student groups. For a speaker series we launched this year, we hosted Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance. We co-sponsored the event with the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources, plus six agriculture-related groups. We had more people show up than at any other educational event that we previously held.
5.Collaborate with student governments at nearby universities
When lobbying, advocating and launching large-scale campaigns, reach out to other student governments in your region and state. Different schools have different areas of expertise and networks of contacts. During the free speech debate in the fall, we worked with Maryland's student regent and all of the student governments across the state to successfully fight the policy.
6. Don't launch assaults on administrators when you can advocate
When trying to get your point across to your school's administrators, especially those who don't share your views, try to understand their position and their stake in the issue. You don't need be an activist if you already have an open door with the administration.
7. Go green but don't overwhelm students
When it comes to initiatives to make campus more environmentally friendly and sustainable, make sure that projects are smart -- both monetarily and effort-wise. Many green initiatives are not as budget-friendly as they seem to be on the surface. The University of Maryland was named America's Greenest Campus by the Web site Climate Culture in 2009, and our student government has been a leader in environmental outreach. But it is important to remember to set tangible and achievable goals.
8. Collaborate with other campus governing bodies
Students need to remain united, and on most campuses there are multiple governance organizations that represent them. Make sure you are in constant communication with groups such as the Residence Hall Association, faculty senates and student advisory councils for individual colleges or departments. They may be able to help your student government gain more insight into what students need.
9. Generate collaborative leadership
Don't try to do everything on your own. Delegate, but keep tabs on everything going on. Empower people within your student government to feel a sense of accountability and that will translate into responsibility.
10. Remember that your student government is your extended family
Make sure to incorporate some fun into whatever you do, otherwise you will end up with an unproductive and unhappy group of people. Organize at least one retreat each year to allow student government members to bond and get to know one another after elections. That will set the tone to start working as a cohesive group.
About Steven M. Glickman
Steven is a junior government and politics major from Buffalo, N.Y. He was elected student body president in May 2009 and has worked on issues such as university financial transparency and campus safety. In an effort to increase communication among student groups, Steven opened a resource center and secured a box for student groups at home football games.
Steven has interned on Capitol Hill with former Rep. Thomas Reynolds (NY-26) and at the University of Maryland in the Office of State and Federal Relations. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow my blog all day, every day by bookmarking http://washingtonpost.com/campus-overload.
January 21, 2010; 4:55 PM ET
Categories: Student Government | Tags: 10 Leader Tips, Steven M. Glickman, Student Government, University of Maryland
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