At the heartbeat of every successful educational system is a group of dedicated and passionate student leaders that share the common goals of progression and achievement for their campus and future leadership. Beginning with the end in mind, they commit to bring change, action, and the gift of prosperity through meaningful and actionable tasks.
The path to effective student leadership starts with understanding the concept of shared governance, setting goals and running efficient meetings. Shared governance depicts the idea that all stakeholders have a fair say in the many decisions that impact their particular constituents. The road to shared governance is not always smooth and, unfortunately, this practice is not as widespread as one would hope for. Fortunately, there are many ways to achieve this type of governance.
The Ideal Shared Governance System
Effective shared governance is more than just being present–it’s about having the power to collectively implement actions that benefit the students. Ideally, one will be able to establish a system in which students have just as much of a vote, (or even a proportional say based on population), as the university officials. At the end of the day, student leaders need the ability to fight to affect change for their students. In order to do this, the university needs a system that can effectively organize and manage the organization. But, to make any sort of substantial change on a university campus, you have to make the most of your time.
There are many leaders who unsuccessfully scramble at the end of the year because they are trying to accomplish unrealistic or poorly executed goals. Sometimes you realize that what you had originally promised in the beginning is in fact, unachievable. Common reasons can include budget cuts, lack of support, or in some cases even a difficult colleague. When instances like this occur, it is important to stay flexible and understanding of the situation. That does not mean you give up on your idea, but rather, you go back to the drawing board and adjust your approach.
At the end of the year a student leader is judged on the promises that they kept and the goals they were able to accomplish. For this reason, keeping track of simple tasks becomes an important concept. Each meeting you attend, and each discussion you are a part of results in a delegation of tasks that are usually written in notebooks and at the mercy of its owner. Once forgotten or lost, we lose accountability and traceability of the assigned tasks which leads to poor performance. Seeing through these action items are ultimately what leads to the success of these larger goals.