ASG leaders seek expanded student input, participation

ASG treasurer, Christina Andrews, 19, philosophy, works on the 2009-2010 ASG budget. (Oliver Yu)

Kati Sweet

Although many students may not have heard about it, the Associated Student Government has much to offer.

From funding campus clubs and organizations, to sponsoring barbecues or grooming future politicians, ASG has a big hand on campus.

“It runs the gamut,” Audra DiPadova, director of student development, said.

ASG is planning several events for the coming year, including Homecoming, blood drives, service projects, and diversity events such as Persian New Year.  ASG does not have set events, but rather lets students come up with ideas. DiPadova said she believes that participation in student activities may have doubled in the past year.

“The great thing about ASG is that your ideas are never limited,” Delaney Taylor, ASG president said. “You can come in and say you want to do an event – say Hispanic Culture Week – and start partnering with clubs and make it happen.”

The benefits go far beyond something to put on your college transcript.
“You learn to work with other people and leadership skills and time management…it helps with real world jobs,” Taylor said.

But the real mission of student government, according to DiPadova, is to support student success.

“Student participation at school – getting to know faculty, participating in campus activities, being active in clubs – goes hand in hand with student success,” DiPadova said.

She cites higher education studies and scholarly work that claims students are retained, and are more likely to graduate, through participation in school activities.

“Student affairs educators really believe we are here to attend to the education of the whole person,” she said.

While DiPadova believes an instructional component is necessary, she also believes “we need to have programs that encourage [students] to get involved and dig in deep and build a community.”

Through ASG, students have a chance to learn to work as a team, to take initiative and how to plan events – things usually not taught in classrooms.

“It adds to the campus experience when learning outside the classroom,” Taylor said. “The main reason we are out there is to spread awareness and teach people what’s going on.”

Students are welcome to participate in student government in any way, and are also encouraged to come to ASG meetings. Meetings are held every week for the Inter Club Council, the Senate, and the Events Cabinet, starting early September.

“We want students to know our doors are open,” DiPadova said. “Whether advocacy or leadership development, that’s what we’re here for.”

Some events are traditions, others are new, brought in by interested students. Anyone can come forward – everything is student driven and student planned. Opportunities range from being a club member to being a senator or planning your own event.

“If you are going to the job market, or you are going to transfer, you will at least learn a couple of skills that you can extrapolate onto the next place you go – at the very least,” DiPadova said.

At the very most it could be life changing. Taylor’s story is one such inspiring tale.

Throughout high school, she was in her words “not involved at all.” She said she did not care and simply attended class and went home.

Then she met a girl with ASG experience – a person who encouraged her to fill out an application. The experience, she said, changed her life.

“I love being a student advocate and having my say,” Taylor said.

Her words of advice for students?

“Don’t hesitate to come to the office, ask questions, come to events, give input, and try to implement your ideas on campus.”

ASG has been going through some changes budget wise.

DiPadova reported that while ASG has done its budget the same way for over 10 years, it has recently completely overhauled the presentation of the budget and the way they formulate the budget, based in part by concern from the South Orange County Community College District Board of Education.

“It will be better off in the end,” DiPadova said. “The budget has a million issues associated with it.”

As a result, a new process will be in effect this fall. Another change the board wants is more money for scholarships – an increase that will have to come from somewhere else.

“They wanted us to agree on some terms,” DiPadova said. “So the district gave us a template to use and that was something the students really had to work through.”

In the end, many of ASG’s goals are simple. “What I want students to know is that we exist,” Taylor said.

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