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The ASGA Minute

The ASGA Minute

By Butch Oxendine
Join the American Student Government Association's Butch Oxendine, founder and executive director, for news and analysis from the world of college and university student governments across the United States and more!

ASGA regularly offers a new 2-3 minute podcast that you can stream or download.

In the show notes, we'll include links to everything we talk about in the episodes.

Music by Leah Oxendine Miller (
Intro voice over by Eli Harris (
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Has Student Government lost its relevance? (Episode 2: Season 2)
Do we need to "reinvent" student government? Is the current structure working?   Student Governments nationwide are struggling with relevance to their constituents. This is particularly true after the past three years of lock-downs and remote classes and meetings. A scholar, Dr. Daniel J. D'Amico, wrote a blistering critique about deficiencies of student government back in 2004, when he was at Loyola University/New Orleans. I ran across his article, "Deliver us from Student Government" (, and then interviewed him for this episode. He's now a professor at Brown University. Here are a few excerpts from his 2004 article, which in many ways was prophetic:  "Performing the role of a student government representative is similar to that of performing the role of an actual government representative. While making decisions on matters he has no expertise in, he appears knowledgeable and benevolent. Mastering this technique makes him the perfect candidate for political office by achieving the most needed characteristic of governmental office: the ability to shirk responsibility."   "After viewing the SGA process from electing representatives, passing inane motions, and allocating student fees the general student body is apathetic, disinterested, and generally annoyed at the presence of such a wasteful and purposeless organization."   "Voting turnouts for SGA's across the board are absolutely dismal, marking just one more striking similarity between these student operated play grounds and the actual world of politics." Daniel J. D'Amico Associate Director, Political Theory Project Brown University
April 28, 2022
Are You Telling Students About Your Student Government's Accomplishments? (Episode 1: Season 2)
At Skyline College, a community college in California, the Associate Students in 19-20 created an impressive wrap--up of what they accomplished during the year. This is a rare feature at student government web sites. Most SG web sites don't even begin to include accomplishments. Many don't even have a list of officers or how to contact them!
April 08, 2022
Should your SG have a mid-year "confidence/no confidence" vote? (Episode 19: Season 1)
At the University of South Florida in Tampa, one of the largest and most complex student governments in the nation, the spring 2021 elections were a disaster. The candidate team that won by far the most votes in the general election was disqualified, so the second-place finisher became the "selection of last resort." The SG held mid-year elections for senators at three USF campuses, but also held a "confidence" vote for the president and vice president. Fortunately for the two, SG President Julia Cunningham and Vice President Jillian Wilson, the "Yes" votes (to keep the duo) outweighed the "no" votes. This "confidence" vote may be unprecedented nationwide. Here are some articles from the USF Oracle newspaper:
November 30, 2021
Perhaps the youngest SGA President in the nation? (Episode 18: Season 1)
Charleston Lee is the new SGA president at Paine College in Georgia. She is a 16-year-old senior. She started college at the age of 12 through Paine's dual-enrollment program. Ms. Lee may be the youngest SGA president in the nation, and is definitely the youngest in the 140-year-history of Paine College. ASGA's Butch Oxendine interview Charleston Lee about her experience at Paine and plans for the future.
November 10, 2021
Should you lower the GPA requirement for SG members? (Episode 17: Season 1)
Should you lower the GPA requirement to allow for more students to run for office and serve in your SG? This is the focus of today's episode. It was inspired by Florida A&M University's discussion in The Famuan about lowering GPAs for potential officers/members:
November 09, 2021
Should SG leaders be compensated? (Episode 16: Season 1)
Compensation for student leaders is pretty common. ASGA tracks this information for more than 1,000 institutions in our SG Salary Survey found at for members. The University of Maryland/Baltimore County makes sure that student leaders "earn" their stipends through a "stipend review committee." This committee review the performance of various members and determines if they have met the minimum criteria for performing the required duties. Also, UMBC reviewed several peer institutions to understand compensation offered to student leaders in their region of the country.
September 24, 2021
What's the most common name of "Student Governments" nationwide? (Episode 13: Season 1)
What is the most common name of college and university student governments across the nation? Student Government Association-- by far-- is the most common name with 2,269 schools that use SGA. Student Senate is second with 440 schools, while Student Government (or SG) is next with 419. ASGA stores data on every student government in the nation in our SG Database that is searchable by our members. Our team pulled data today (8/31/21) to see the most common names and that data is now available. If you're in the midst of considering a name change to be more clear and concise-- and to avoid having to tell everyone you're the student government because they don't understand your organization's name when you first say it-- this guide will tell you what most student governments do nationwide.
September 07, 2021
Can you run for president if you've never been in SGA before? (Episode 15: Season 1)
SGs struggle with voter turnout around the country. Average turnout is about 4 percent (15-20 at private institutions, 10-15% at public, and well under 2% for community colleges). Part of the reason for this poor turnout can be blamed on uncontested races in many elections-- in other words, only one person is running for president. Sounds like a dictatorship! Any student should be able to run for office, regardless of previous SG experience. With proper and intentional transition training, students who haven't served before can become competent public servants quickly. One student, Asha Marie, at Furman University in South Carolina, got her SGA constitution changed to allow any student to run for office. Previously, a clause in the SGA constitution required previous service on SGA. In February, Marie created a petition and submitted it through social networks to the student body. She far exceeded the 300 signatures to bring it to a vote of the entire student body. Then in the referendum vote, she needed 20% turnout (540 votes) to change the clause. In the vote, 735 students participated and 73.43% voted in favor, according to The Paladin student newspaper. In the general election, 42% of the students voted and Marie was elected SGA president for 21-22. Here are links to articles about Asha Marie's efforts to open SGA elections to all interested candidates, even though with previous SGA experience:
September 07, 2021
How can your SG help students avoid date rape drugs when they're out on the town? (Episode 14: Season 1)
At Wofford College in South Carolina, the Campus Union (the student government) sponsored a bill to bring drink coasters to campus. These coasters detect if a drink has a "date rape drug" in it. The company that makes the coasters, Drink Safe Technologies, is based in Tallahassee, Florida. See Basically, you put a drop of the liquid from your glass on the coaster and it will indicate if a date rape drug is present. Here's an article about the coasters:
September 03, 2021
Has there ever be two presidents of a college or university? (Episode 12: Season 1)
Yes. The College of Idaho has two presidents, co-presidents. I've been doing Student Government research for nearly 40 years and I have never seen this model at any college or university. Just a handful of student governments have a co-president, including the University of Boulder at Boulder. But I've never seen it at the administrative level before. Doug Brigham & Jim Everett, Co-Presidents The College of Idaho appointed two highly successful business and non-profit leaders to the office of the President to lead the state’s oldest private college into the future. Former President of TitleOne Corporation Doug Brigham and the former CEO of the Treasure Valley YMCA Jim Everett have been selected as the Presidents of The College of Idaho. The appointment was finalized by a unanimous Board of Trustees vote of approval on Friday, Feb. 23. The selection of Co-Presidents, while unique in higher education, is perfectly suited to the needs of the College at this time. The College’s Presidential Search Committee had identified Brigham and Everett as two top individual candidates among a diverse pool of traditional and non-traditional candidates. When the pair reframed their candidacies as a co-presidential team, the Search Committee was intrigued by this innovative approach and the candidates’ shared vision for the College.
August 30, 2021
How can you benefit from the expertise of former SG leaders? (Episode 11: Season 1)
ASGA encourages student governments to communicate with past leaders, to even create an alumni organization for student government. Former leaders often can offer great insight, as they served in these roles before! They can give advice about problems to avoid, group to partner with, and many other insights to help you save time and pain in making needless mistakes. Here are a couple of examples, found in the ASGA SG Database, searchable to all members: Murray State University in Kentucky, had a gathering of 24 past SGA presidents. University of Arizona has a regular gathering for former leaders. Oxford College of Emory University California State University/Northridge Past, present associated students meet at annual President’s Day event
August 13, 2021
Are your SG job descriptions useful to train new members? (Episode 10: Season 1)
Most Student Governments don't train their members very well. You can start by offering detailed job descriptions for each position and also provide FAQs about your government for anyone interested in possibly serving. The University of Wisconsin/Stevens Point has a nice resource about the role of SGA there and also a job description for student senators. Here are details below. Why should I become a Senator? Becoming a Senator is a great way to get involved with the Student Government Association and make a difference on campus! Frequently Asked Questions What's the difference between a High School Student Council and our Student Government? High School Student Councils typically organize dances, spirit days, and community volunteering. Our University Student Government distributes millions of dollars for student services and activities, lobbies for students' rights at the local and state level, represents student opinion in major campus initiatives, stands up for student interest by creating and passing campus policies, with the goal of improving lives and experiences for the entire student body. What is the role of our Student Government Association on campus? Distribute student segregated fees to campus entities to fund student services, events, and activities. Represent students regarding issues of campus policy and practice. Serve as official government representatives for the student body. Work with faculty, staff, and administration to identify issues affecting students and work towards a solution. What does a Senator do? Attend and participate in the weekly Student Senate (General Assembly) meeting. Traditionally held every Thursday at 6:15pm throughout the academic year, Dreyfus University Center Legacy Room. Attend and participate in at least one University committee, and at least one SGA committee. Write, present, and/or vote on legislation. Seek student input on various issues and concerns. Represent fellow students while voting on campus legislation, approving money allocation, and while planning events. Be knowledgeable about new campus initiatives. Be an active and positive community member on the UWSP campus. What are committees, and what do they do? Committees are groups of representatives charged with a specific function or an area of oversight.  Student Government committees are organized by students to work on issues pertaining to specific facets of campus concerning students. Committee representatives can be students, faculty members, and staff members. While all senators need to be part of a committee, not all student committee members are necessarily senators. Any student can become involved in a committee, contact us if you are interested or just show up. Committees do a variety of things, including: Plan events Research students' concerns and needs Recommend policy changes Carry forward new and existing initiatives Create legislation What is a Student at Large? What is a Student Interest Representative (SIR)? A Student at Large is any student participating in a committee, but who was not approved for voting rights by senate. We have open meetings; any student may attend and share their opinion. A Student Interest Representative (SIR) is a position confirmed by senate. In addition to sharing their opinion, SIRs have voting rights at committee meeting.
August 11, 2021
How often does your college/university president attend your SG meetings? (Episode 9: Season 1)
Does your SG invite the college/university president to your meetings? Does the president inaugurate new officers/members after your elections? ASGA encountered an institution in Washington, Whitman College, and their campus newspaper reported that it was the first time in 10 years that a president attended a student government meeting. This is not ideal! It was shocking for me to read this. Presidents should attend SG meetings at least once a year and should be the one who inaugurates new officers/members. Here's the link:
July 21, 2021
Should your SG have business cards for officers and members? (Episode 8: Season 1)
At Eastern Michigan University, the Student Government voted to not fund business cards for its members. That's a mistake. Butch talks about the universal nature and relevance of having business cards for any professional. It's a simple and low-cost way to help professionalize your officers and members. EMU Student Government votes against purchasing business cards for senators
July 15, 2021
How often should you amend your constitution? (Episode 7: Season 1)
The Florida Gulf Coast University SG is required to review its constitution every five years, then have the changes ratified by the student body through a campus-wide vote. Too many student governments amend their constitutions every year. The idea is reviewing it every four or five years is a wise use of organization time. No more than 10 percent of your SG's time should be spent on internal infrastructure matters like your constitution, bylaws, or election codes.
July 14, 2021
Is your web site good enough to connect with your constituents (your students)? (Episode 6: Season 1)
Check out ASGA's member resource, SG Web Site Tune-up, found in the SG Toolbox at It will teach you how to enhance and improve your Student Government web site (and your social network presence) so that you are better able to connect and communicate with your constituents (your fellow students).
July 13, 2021
How much do you know about student activity fees? (Episode 5: Season 1)
University of West Georgia Student Activity Fee training
July 13, 2021
Are you any good at training your new officers and members? (Episode 4: Season 1)
This is from Michigan Tech's transition section: Transitions between outgoing and incoming executive boards are crucial to maintain organizational consistency. In order to facilitate easy transition officers should start, maintain, and update a living set of documents. This can be created in the form of a binder or digitally in a google team drive. Here is a helpful list of what you should include. Before the newly-elected officers of your organization officially assume their responsibilities, it is recommended for the old and new officers to get together for a “transition meeting.” This meeting can be conducted in person or digitally in order to allow the new officers to learn from the experience of the outgoing officers. Officer continuity is a key to growth for your organization and having a casual, open atmosphere is encouraged. This type of meeting allows for honest evaluation of the accomplishments and problems of the previous year Below you will find a host of resources to guide your transition. Group Transition Meeting Agenda Officer 1-1 Transition Meeting Handout Outgoing Officer Manual Incoming Officer Manual Officer Retreat Planning Guide Transition Goal Setting Guide
June 30, 2021
Should you have three student government presidents? (Episode 3: Season 1)
The vast majority of student governments nationwide have a single president, almost always elected by their peers. But the University of Colorado/Boulder has three "co-presidents." They're called "The Tri-Executives." UC Boulder is one of the largest and most complex universities in the nation, the CUSG manages a $35 million budget. The government here has had the 3-president model for many years and it seems to work for them in spreading out responsibility so no one student is overwhelmed or overburdened. It's not the "norm" nationwide, but it seems to work for this Colorado institution.
June 24, 2021
What's the best camera for live-streaming your SG Meetings? (Episode 2: Season 1)
Butch talks about the Mevo camera ( that is made for live-streaming meetings, events, and concerts. The power of the camera is being able to edit with zooms, pans, different shots right on your mobile phone or tablet. Another useful tool, PIVO (sounds lime Mevo, but is completely unreleated) follows faces and rotates your camera during meetings or events. Useful. Being fully transparent, Butch invested personally in Mevo a few years ago. The company recently sold to a bigger company, Logitech.
June 24, 2021
What is the ASGA Minute Podcast? (Episode 1: Season 1)
This is a quick welcome from the podcast host, Butch Oxendine. Butch is executive director of the American Student Government Association and has been research and writing about student governments for more than 37 years. You can learn about ASGA at We produce 11 conferences at We also help with consulting/training: see Butch can be reached at
June 17, 2021