Friday, November 9, 2007

Student Government Project: How has LaGuardia's SGO improved student involvement and representation this year?

When I became President of LaGuardia's Student Government this year, the first thing that I felt needed addressing was: Who gets to be on Student Government?

Since I joined SGO in sophomore year, students had been appointed to be representatives by putting in an application consisting of an essay, a recommendation, and their transcript. In most schools, this is an effective way of selecting representatives because there will not always be enough applicants to represent every grade, official class etc. When I joined, there were about 25 SGO members and I was the only one from my grade. An application process for lower level officials increases the number of students involved in their school.

However, there were also several requirements for aspiring SGO representatives that I disagreed with. First, a grade point average requirement of 85 or above and second, a clean dean's record.

My problem with both of these requirements is that they exclude important members of the student community: those who have not succeeded academically and students who have not followed school rules. These students have just as much right to representation as any others. They are also affected by the school's successes and more so by its failures.

For that reason, my fellow officers and I decided to repeal those requirements and since then, the number of SGO representatives has jumped from 46 to over 100, with greater representation of students from every class, major, race and gender.

As we increased in size, we also created a Speaker position. Someone who would run personnel of SGO and would work on recruiting new representative, accepting/rejecting their applications and helping new members find the committee that they would be best for.

We also created a new Student Opinion Committee: a committee of 15 SGO representatives whose sole job is to research how students feel about the goings on of our school and then report their findings to the officers so that we could bring them to the school committees that we sit on: SLT, Attendance and Safety.

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