Training the leaders of SGA

The leadership initiative Next Up offers students a way to become involved in the Student Government Association.

SGA decided to run the initiative to boost participation in SGA and train students for a government position.

“Often, students come into the Office for Student Engagement and ask, ‘How do I become a part of SGA?’” said Chief of Staff for SGA and senior communication major Neil Bourgeois. “If there are no openings in any of the branches at that time, then there is no way for the student to get involved. With having Next Up, they have that outlet to get involved and learn more about SGA to see if they want to be a future member and officer. This is another way a student can truly make an impact on their campus.”

Planning began before winter break, and SGA launched the initiative in February.

“Since the launch, we’ve actually had really impressive participation,” said Leadership Advancement Coordinator and junior criminal justice major Indya Major. “What I mean by that is, yes, our numbers aren’t the greatest because we just launched it, but the students who we have, they keep coming back. We get really good feedback basically, so they’re appreciating the program. A lot of our students who are involved in the program are freshmen.”

 

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Bourgeois discussed the challenges the initiative poses.

“The challenges with this program, as in any new program, is recruiting and advertising,” said Bourgeois. “We have a solid program, but we have to hope the students see that and are attracted to it so they come to be a part of Next Up. Once they come to the meeting, I am confident that they will love it and want to build as a leader and future member of SGA.”

Half of each meeting is devoted to leadership skills while the other half has students work on an activity or assessment based on which branch of government interests them.

“Let’s just say at our last meeting, those students who were interested in the legislative branch, they wrote a rough draft of a resolution because that’s something the legislative branch handles,” said Major. “Students who are interested in the judicial branch, we gave them the chance to say, ‘If you were in charge of ‘Free Speech Alley,’ how would you structure it? How would you run it?’”

Major shared her personal hope for Next Up.

“I would love to have someone who maybe after a semester or a year from now is a senator, a justice, even the president’s chief of staff or maybe even the SGA president themselves to say, ‘SGA’s Next Up is something that really did prepare me for this position,’” said Major.

Anyone interested in becoming involved with Next Up can stop by student engagement or email Major at [email protected] 

“It is completely OK for you to feel like you’re not ready for SGA itself,” said Major. “I don’t want people to think that SGA’s Next Up is a program to where it’s like OK, we just throw this big position on you. That’s not what it is. I really want people to appreciate the fact that we’re trying to get students involved. It’s a training process to get students involved in SGA. When it comes to SGA’s Next Up, we don’t expect you to know anything about SGA.”

 

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