Getting Involved On Campus – Student Government

To the best of my knowledge, every university or college will have a student government even if it’s for online college programs. What they do is represent the students and if necessary, take the case to the university/college administration if there is an issue.  Students need them, the institution needs them.  They also keep all of the faculty student councils in check to make sure they don’t spend all of their student fees on useless trash.  Now I rarely agree with the student union because they tend to spend way too much time “fighting the man” instead of working in unison with the university.  With that said, I don’t always know the full story behind things so I guess I shouldn’t judge…

Anyway, back to the topic at hand, getting involved on campus can be as simple as going to your faculty student government office and asking if you can help.  They usually won’t turn you away, but you will probably have to wait until elections to officially be on council. Once on council, you will be recognised by the university as a student leader, and they will actually put it on your transcript!

Elections are far away? Than Volunteer!

Most elections happen at the end of the year, although some councils elect first year representatives.  Most members of council hold a vote, so they can help decide where to allocate the funds collected from the student fees.  But if you want a seat on council, be sure to volunteer throughout the year to get your face out there.  Once elections come around, the general student population will recognise your face, and as long as you were polite, they will probably vote for you.  One easy way to do this is be the bartender for their events.  It is a deceivingly easy way to meet a pile of people in a very short amount of time, and associate yourself with positive circumstances.

You’re In! Now What?

Once elections come around and you’re actually on council you will be going to meetings and voting on “motions” (things people want done) left, right, and center. You will see more behind the scenes and it will open your eyes to all the work involved to make a fun year for the students.  If your position requires you to plan events, or if you have a team under you, it will teach you time management.  It will also give you a taste of leadership and how it can affect you, not to mention a bit of stress.  Again, my GPA got me nowhere career-wise, during the interviews I sat down in, they were always asking about my roles on various councils instead of my coursework.

Expanding Beyond Your Faculty Council

If you enjoy your campus life on council than you can step it up to larger responsibilities by joining the campus student union, which represents all students on campus.  Your responsibilities will become much larger, in fact many student leaders take a reduced course load in order to complete their jobs.  If you want to get involved in something larger, than you can look at CFS (Canadian Federation of Students).  In Canada, most student unions are under the umbrella of the Canadian Federation Of Students. There is a lot of controversy whether or not these guys are actually useful and I won’t get into it now, but just so people are aware, the reason some people get involved is because there are incompetent people in power currently, and they want to make a change.

When you were in school did you have anything to do with student government at any level?  What is your opinion of your current student government?

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Involvement with student government on any level is one of the best ways to prove leadership ability (whether real or perceived). This could come in handy when you go to apply for your first job and have no real work experience, or at least not much.

Our Student’s Union is usually pretty good, but you’re right about them usually spending too much time “fighting the man”. One campaign was focused entirely on reducing student fees? Uh, good luck with that when you need money to run all the events you promised as well.

When you are in college you should think about what would add to your resume. Student government helps demonstrate leadership skills which is a great addition to a resume.

I know it came in really handy for JB and to a lesser extent for myself (JB was involved with so many areas of student government, whereas I kind of picked and chose where I wanted to contribute).

I find our student union was way over influenced by specialist interest groups (much like our federal and provincial governments actually). Since the “average” people never voted in any numbers, inevitable the formula for a student union election is to make ridiculous appeals to special interest groups in an effort to secure blocks of votes. Not a good long-term strategy, and basically it became a cycle where most people would get so sick of it (and this is a generation where politics has already fallen out of favour) they would just not engage or interact with the political process at… Read more »

I try to convey to people that networking and resume building are so much more important than that extra .2 on your GPA (once you get into your target faculty of course). Instead of killing yourself trying to get that + behind your A or B, get involved with people and actually gain new skills. It’s more fun, more rewarding, and definitely more practical. Student government is an excellent way to do that, I also did a lot of youth coaching, which turned out to be the key reason why I eventually got my job.

Best decision I made in college was joining Student Government. Began as a College of Business “Senator” and later was elected as Financial Advisor. Also gave me an opportunity to sit on the Student Budget Board whom was responsible for dividing up millions to various student organizations. It was this experience (not grade point averages) that became a conversation piece in interviews.

As well it should have been right? My guess is that it probably gave you more towards your job than the GPA obsessing would have!

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