They’re here, they’re there, they’re everywhere, and they want you for Student Government. Non-traditional representative spots are now available and looking to be filled within Student Government. Tyler Rines of Student Government explained that there are usually a lot of vacancies or a couple spots open each year. Rines said that “people are generating interest” in these positions.
If one wants to become a representative, they are required to do a number of things prior to the elections themselves. First, a petition with at least 25 signatures must be completed. This petition represents the number of students who support the potential candidate.
The potential candidate then comes to a Student Assembly meeting where they speak about why they should be chosen for the position they seek. Rines explained that each member of Student Government then looks for leadership qualities amongst the hopefuls and discusses their potential as well. Ballots are passed around from where members of Student Government choose, and the members conclude their decision.
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Once chosen, these candidates can begin their involvement in the student body. Paul Striffolino, assistant vice-president for Students’ Affairs, explained the purpose of Student Government itself. He said it is “to be the voice of the students, to represent the student body to administration, to faculty, to the university system. My opinion is they should solicit student input on student issues,” and spoke of issues that students may deal with or the hardships and challenges the student body of KSC might have.
Striffolino also said that the point of Student Government is about suggesting ideas with the hopes of revising and improving campus life. It is “a lot about advocacy, each student represents their class, but also represents the general student and is also representing the general student body.”
He pointed out that while representatives may in fact be closer with their class, they still have an idea of what students want as a whole from word of mouth, quite literally. Striffolino said students can pick up on what other KSC students want just by keeping their ears open to what students are saying on campus, whether it be in the Dining Commons, the Student Center, or class. Striffolino says this plays an important role in the communication aspect.
Student Body President Colin Daly said, “The purpose of Student Government here is to advocate needs of all students, all 5,800 students we have here and implement changes; anything ranging from activities, organizations, athletics, anything surrounding student services.”
Only minutes prior to explaining this, Daly was speaking with members of the KSC dance team who wanted help with making changes.
Daly said “in a broader spectrum of Student Government, everyone is a part of Student Government.”
Student Goverment Treasurer Jackie Efraimson said the purpose of being involved in Student Government at KSC was not only to represent the student body but “to be here to make a stand for our school, represent our community, and to make a change.”
Efraimson spoke of change and said that “we’re keeping with tradition but also breaking traditions and making organizations stronger because we’re stepping out of our comfort zone and reaching new goals.”
Striffolino spoke highly of these members making changes and said, “I think their legitimacy on campus has improved. When I first came here there didn’t appear to be positions sought after or taken as seriously by the rest of the college. Students now are more serious about their intent and take on responsibilities with more commitment and ask a lot of questions, which is great.”
Kristen Rankin of Student Government said that this organization is “an outlet for students” and how it can be “easier to talk with us than administration.”
Rines expressed that he would like to see more of a voter turnout and said he would “like to see more competition, there’s a lot of re-election but I would rather have competition. The more the better.”
As far as getting the word out about these open positions, Rines said Student Government has been working on advertisements, as well as using announcements through Facebook, e-mails, and word of mouth.
Rines and Rankin spoke of the table in the Student Center that Student Government has. This new way of getting the word out to students allows for any student to speak with them without having to call them or go to the office during office hours. At this table, members are available to answer questions and listen to any ideas students come up with.
Rankin said, “The table downstairs is a great change a lot of students don’t know about” and “little things like that gives us a way of getting feedback.” Aside from this informational table, members of Student Government each have office hours every week.
Their hours range from 8 to 12 hours a week where they aim to make improvements on campus and welcome students in to discuss issues.
Daly later said, “I think just being aware of what Student Government does gives students the ability to come in to ask questions, put on programs, come to ask for money…We’re more than happy to help. It’s great for the students on campus, we want to let students know what they can and can’t do and with what they can, how they can do it” and to help students get information and help guide them to where they want to go.
When asked to compare student governments in high school to Student Government at KSC, Rines said, “In theory, they’re the same because you’re representing fellow students and their needs” but also said, “Here you’re on a first name basis with advisors, you’re closer with the president.”
“There is less distance and more opportunity,” Rines added.
Upon being asked how students can benefit by becoming involved in Student Government, Daly said, “I would say it’s a great opportunity for anybody who wants to challenge themselves and what they’ve been doing. Maybe they haven’t been as active in Student Government but have good ideas and want to be part of something-Student Government is a good place to do it.”
Efraimson said she was “involved [in student government] in high school and wanted to continue it in college and took what I [she] learned and brought it here, [I] kept growing with it.”
Without Student Government on campus, Efraimson said, “I think it would be very boring, I don’t think students realize what a lot of organizations do, whether it’s SAC or Habitat for Humanity. They don’t realize a lot of the work we do is so they can enjoy their year with lots of fun activities and programs.”
Daly feels that “The college would be fine [without Student Government] but I think allowing or having the ability to have student government on campus is a great opportunity to speak with someone when they [students] want to see something new, it’s great to have this opportunity and I think we should be very progressive. Keene State as a whole is very progressive in the ordeals and goals we’ve set for ourselves and the future.”
“For me it would be more boring! Because I work with them [Student Government] and really enjoy working with those students. It wouldn’t be as rich, and it’s certainly a reminder of why we’re all here,” Striffolino said.
He expressed that college-wide committees wouldn’t happen otherwise and said there is “always a different perspective, so it becomes very valuable.”
When asked why students should become involved with Student Government, Efraimson said, “I just think it makes your time here at Keene State much more fun, it makes it much more worth it. You meet a lot of new people and you get a sense of what leadership is.”
Through KSC Student Government, there is “a lot of personal growth” because being involved this way “causes them [students] to think of issues they may not normally approach, trying to see all sides and form opinions for themselves, and then it’s confidence; voicing that opinion and being able to challenge opinions. It’s tremendous training for people that want to go anywhere and do anything,” Striffolino said.
Striffolino also said he “encourage[s] every student to take a shot and put their name on a petition and run for office, at least try it for a year and explore a little bit of who they are in that position.”
Brittany Ballantyne can be contacted at email@example.com