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.

(Next page: Meeting the ideal with Taskcot.com)

The Ideal Meeting

In my experience, meetings can be either the most or least productive part of your day. As a leader it is essential you know how to facilitate a meeting and understand how to behave and interact with your colleagues. For example, always develop a meeting agenda at least 72 hours before your meeting. This will give you ample time to distribute the agenda to all the members attending. Everyone should have enough time to review the items, and come prepared for the meeting. By distributing the agenda in advance you now put the responsibility of being prepared for the meeting on the members of your organization.

No matter what kind of meeting you are in, you must always keep a record (referred to as meeting minutes). This allows you to ensure that there are tangible takeaways from general discussions, as well as lets you recap all of the information at the next meeting so you can pick up where you left off.

In order to have a productive meeting, documents such as agendas and minutes need to be readily available. I have been in many meetings where the meeting documents are scattered in emails, dropboxes, and paper formats. Many times, commonly used documents such as bylaws or budgets are misplaced and mismanaged. Having a system in place that can consistently manage these records and documents is vital to the health of the committee.

The Ideal Student Leader

Student leaders strive to have the best programs and education, fund the newest and most innovative projects for the campus, host the liveliest spring concert, cheer on undisputed sports teams and support the statement-making activism. All of these campus related accomplishments are represented by one single thing: the school mascot.

A school’s mascot is only as strong as its student body. Leadership at its core, is the driving force in getting things done. However, even at the highest degree of leadership, there is only so much one is able to do at his or her maximum capacity. Let’s imagine the optimized levels of performance: What if there was an innovative type of technology that could fully optimize committee operations? Something that could organize members and schedules, facilitate meetings, allocate action and guarantee committee efficacy? The meeting pains and inefficiencies we all deal with will soon be long forgotten.

Meet Taskcot.com (https://taskcot.com/taskcot/) Our team has developed the most efficient platform that elevates the success of universities and helps student governments thrive. Taskcot.com is a cloud-based software focused on optimizing student governments, through use of committee management and collaborations tools. This technology developed specifically for study body government helps student leaders:

  • Facilitate Meetings
    • Paperless minutes, agendas and single-click meeting documents
    • Committee overview of all members
    • Member directory for quick contact reference
  • Take Action
    • Allocate, manage and complete tasks throughout meeting lifecycle
    • Stay updated with email notifications
    • Provide real-time feedback with integrated discussion thread
  • Transparency & Accountability
    • Archived documents and meeting records
    • Keyword search features
    • Ensure task completion and receipt of deliverables.

Taskcot.com was founded on the principles of improving university meetings and promoting a collaborative atmosphere. We continue to implement our solution in universities across the nation and ultimately strive to make student governments even more productive and effective. We look forward to serving a University near you!

About the Author:

Rohullah Latif served as the Student Body President at Cal State University Fullerton (13’-14’) where he managed a budget of $15M and served a student body of 40,000 students. Rohullah is currently attending Johns Hopkins University finishing off his Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. In the recent months he has published a student leadership book “Students Lead Now” and has recently launched a committee management and collaboration software with his team of former student leaders.


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