UMB Student Senate Learns from Student Governance Conference; University Gets Honor of Hosting

Edson Bueno

The national American Student Government Association (ASGA) conference was held at UMass Boston in August 2008 to foster growth in student leaders, providing them with the necessary tools to become effective leaders on campus.

ASGA is a professional association the serves and supports college and university student government by providing tools that teach campus leaders to become more effective, ethical, and influential leaders on their campuses.

In attendance were 148 registrants and four speakers from 32 colleges across the nation, including students from as far away as California and Texas. It was the first time the conference was hosted in Boston.

Alex Velez, a UMB student senate secretary, said that the conference was invaluable because the ASGA brings together student governments like the UMB student senate from hundreds of schools to participate in building student government systems modeled after the American federal government.

According to Valez, the ASGA conferences are beneficial because ASGA offers students the skills they need to survive outside of school.

“The more independent we can prove to be, the more likely [it is that] we can be seen as exactly what we are: a collection of individuals who work hard to obtain the necessary information to make informed decisions.”

To make those informed decisions, Valez said the student senate works closely with the student activities and leadership offices.

“We [student government members] participate in numerous events such as opening week and open house,” he said. “We help recognized student organizations like our clubs, centers, and the student events and organizations committee to make sure they have all of the necessary resources to function, program, and promote on and off campus.”

After the ASGA conference, Valez decided to apply what he learned to his work at the student senate.

“I think that historically, the student governmental organizations at UMB have been looked upon as ‘playing’ government to keep ourselves busy while decisions were being made for us,” he said. “An important realization that the ASGA has brought to this school is that we can make a difference if we are willing to work with each other as well as with the administration.”

The conference reassured Valez not only that other schools were having the same problems as the UMB student senate, but also that things could change. After attending the conference, Valez said he’s sure that UMB students can expect to see some big things from the senate in the future.

“You will definitely see some exciting things happen on campus this year!”

Representing colleges and universities of Massachusetts were Bunker Hill Community College, Curry College, Dean College, Eastern Nazarene College, Fitchburg State College, Gordon College, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Regis College, the Wentworth Institute of Technology, UMass Lowell, and UMass Boston.