The race for the next President of the United States is in full swing, but did you know that there is another election soon that has the ability to impact your life as well? At the end of this month, the Front Range Community College system will hold the annual election of the Student Government Association (SGA) body.
“SGA is a group of students elected by students to serve as campus liaisons between administration, faculty, staff and students,” said Jessica Jurgella, Front Range Community College-Westminster’s Coordinator of Student Activities and an advisor to the FRCC-SGA.
A statement on FRCC’s website by the Student Government Association expands on their mission:
“The Front Range Community College Student Government Association (FRCC-SGA) was created to represent and act as the official student voice for FRCC students. They strive to define, defend, and advocate for all student rights, responsibilities, and freedoms, and to promote the general welfare of the students. Through representation on college and campus committees, FRCC-SGA plays a vital role in fostering community and providing a direct link between students, faculty, and administration.”
Similar to the goals laid out by our Constitution, where the government is the voice of the people, our Student Government acts as our collective voice and advocates on our behalf. SGAs serve an important role on our campus, as well as campus’s around the country.
“SGA’s role on campus is to represent the student body in all matters concerning its financial affairs, student interest and student welfare, while providing opportunities for student leadership,” Jurgella said. The financial affairs that Jurgella mentioned are primarily related to student fees. The SGA is funded by student fees and is the student voice for how our fee money should be used, often advocating for services or needs that directly affect students.
FRCC-SGA is involved in many aspects of campus life. The FRCC-SGA is the motivation behind the creation of The Pantry and many campus events. SGA innovated the idea of a campus food pantry, which was turned over to Student Life in order to turn the initiative into a sustainable program.
Additionally, they have hosted a large campus event every spring as morale boostesr between midterms and finals. SGA also volunteers for Student Life sponsored events.
Most importantly, SGA interacts with FRCC Administration regarding student concerns. According to Jurgella, “SGA discussed campus safety procedures with the Campus Safety and Preparedness Office to encourage better cameras, better lighting and better walkways in campus parking lots. They have also discussed a number of student concerns with Andy Dorsey, College President, and other administrators.”
It is easy to get involved in Student Government, and participation is open to all current students if they meet a few requirements. Jurgella said that eligible students must maintain enrollment during office duration, keep a GPA of at least 2.5 and be enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours each semester (not including summer). Presidential candidates must at least one semester of FRCC-SGA experience.
In addition, all interested candidates must attend an information session and turn in an intent-to-run form to be included on the ballot. This year, those information sessions are being held April 19 and 20 from 12 to 1 p.m. in the Student Outreach Center.
Involvement in organizations such as SGA is linked to higher academic performance. “Students who are involved also report feeling more connected on campus and are therefore more likely to continue. Students who take on leadership roles are also more employable when they complete their degrees because they have had more opportunities to fine tune soft skills employers are looking for,” Jurgella said.
Serving on an SGA not only entices future employers, but it looks good on a college résumé if you are planning on continuing your studies at a four-year university. If you are interested in public service or politics, getting involved in SGA could be a great first step on the journey.
Being in SGA can also generally boost your confidence, give you a sense of accomplishment and allow you to practice talking to and interacting with people in positions of authority.
Getting involved in FRCC’s SGA early in your schooling can be beneficial, as one of the hardest aspects of creating an effective community college SGA is the high turnover of the student body. Compared to four year universities, community colleges have more non-traditional students who take care of families and/or work and also commute to school. These outside demands, and the fact that community colleges have more transient populations mean that consistency on SGA boards is nearly non-existent. In fact, many SGAs have to reinvent themselves yearly on community college campuses. This does inject fresh ideas and perspectives regularly, which is beneficial, but it also does make follow-through or long term planning more challenging.
Past SGA members participated for a number of reasons, but most prominently, they ran for office “to make a difference on our campus,” “to inspire through leadership,” and “to be part of something that enhances my time here.”
Students who do not wish to hold office in SGA can still participate by voting. Last year, the number of votes cast rose to 500 from 200 in the previous year’s election. “The increase was due to a change in voting. We went from paper ballots to electronic, making it easier and faster to vote. We also included candidate’s intent-to-run statements on the ballot so students felt more informed when voting. In the past, voter turnout depended on the candidates pushing people they knew to vote. This is a much more equitable process and allows students to do their research prior,” Jurgella said.
Voting only takes a few moments, and there is no registration required. This year’s elections are being held on April 27 and 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside of the Student Outreach Center.
As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us.” This wisdom is salient not only us as we vote in April for our Student Government, but also in November when we vote for our U.S. Government.
Written by Alex Liethen