Expert weighs in on role of student government


Loyola’s SGA president and vice president candidates started campaigning March 5. Voting takes place March 26-31with a new administration sworn in April 28. Photo credit: Maria Paula Marino

Zia Sampson

The American Student Government Association defined the student government as the representative of the student population in all decisions made on campus, including hiring and firing, academic and commencement decisions.

The role of student government should advocate for positive change through interaction with the student body, according to Butch Oxendine from the American Student Government Association.

The American Student Government Association has been doing research for 37 years to create recommended guidelines that college student governments should follow.

Oxendine said that these guidelines are not required and that oftentimes schools compare themselves to other, similar institutions when creating their guidelines. He said Loyola often compares itself to other Jesuit schools.

“I wish they would expand outside of that because there are thousands of student governments that could teach ideas,” Oxendine said.

Oxendine explained that by listening to more perspectives Loyola’s SGA could improve.

“You’re not having to have problems yourself, you’re learning from someone else who has already solved it.”

Oxendine said that keeping an open line of communication between student government and the student body is important, recognizing that not every member of the student body is going to attend senate or committee meetings.

Instead, he recommended that Loyola’s SGA make a continuous effort to talk to students one-on-one.

“If every one of the student government members surveyed one student every day while they’re in office, five days a week, times 30 people, that’s 150 students,” Oxendine said. “In a month, they’ve surveyed 600 students. That’s statistically valid to draw conclusions.”

Oxendine said student government officers and members should be intentionally reaching out to their students.

“They should be literally every day attempting to survey students,” Oxendine said. “If they’re doing that, they can keep student government in student’s minds.”

Oxendine said this communication is especially important during the pandemic. He said that SGA office hours should be dedicated to SGA-related work.

“Many times, those office hours are not utilized well,” Oxendine said. “They ended up studying or sleeping or texting or eating.”

Instead, he recommended that time be put toward communication that keeps the student body in mind. Oxendine said that connection to the student population is what sets student government apart from other student organizations.

“They’ve got to talk to people, be that representative body and talk to their peers,” he said.