Last year’s Associated Students elections, with many contested positions up for election, had one of the highest voter turnouts in university history. Although the campaign season hasn’t officially begun, departing officers have a few words of advice for those considering running for office.
“Serving in the student government is the premier leadership opportunity at Sonoma State University,” said Associated Students President Mac Hart. “Nothing else puts you in a position to represent more than 9,000 students or to lead the corporate function of a multi-million dollar non profit.”
Vice President for University Affairs Dan Condron is encouraging students to apply for Associated Student government positions before applications close on Feb 7.
Condron explained that student government participation is “an excellent growth opportunity that compliments what you do in the classroom.”
“I’d encourage [students] to do it… if you’re a student leader you get this management experience, this experience about how to work in a complicated organization and that translates directly in my opinion to careers outside of the campus,” Condron said.
Condron justified his opinion by discussing Hart’s current internship at Sonoma Transit Authority.
“Our student body president and the vice mayor of Santa Rosa are on the same committee out in the community. It has nothing to do with Sonoma State but that’s an example I think of how student leadership involvement leads to community involvement and leads to connections,” Condron said.
Despite the opportunity, Hart admitted that it isn’t easy living the life “between a student and a professional.”
“It takes a lot of balance, a lot of time management, the core root is the ability to critically think about all the different aspects of the university from the perspective of students. I’m not gonna lie, it’s been hard, but I’m glad I took that chance,” Hart said.
Community Affairs Senator Libby Dippel resonates with the uncertainty of those students considering applying for student government.
“What I would tell [students] is that there is a huge learning curve. The first couple of months a lot of senators are fumbling around trying to see how this thing works and how do I write a resolution, this is a lot of work...but the growth you get out of it is unlike any other position I’ve experienced,” said Dippel.
Both Dippel and Hart acknowledged that the multiplicity of perspectives from student government coupled with faculty and administration can prove difficult for university development.
“Everyone is coming from a different perspective and to get everyone on the same page about something is very hard. But if you can do it then in the end you have a very solid product,” Hart said.
According to Condron, the Student Center encapsulates the unified collaborations between the student government, faculty and administrative branches of the university.
“I think that [the Student Center] is a very good example of something that was [the students’] recommendation, something that students would like to see at Sonoma State and the administration took that seriously and worked with them until we had a project,” Condron said.
Hart emphasizes that student input into the center can be identified in numerous areas.
“You can see it when you walk through the Kitchens, when you walk through Lobo’s…there was that extra bit of input and I think that makes a big difference,” Hart said.
Student Government Coordinator Justin Gomez is excited about the future of the student government. He credits the new Student Center for providing an office space, allowing the different branches of Associated students to work as an integrated whole to better serve students.
“We serve as the official student voice … realizing that we all [Associated Students] have this mission to cater for students in a variety of different ways but we can do it even better if we collaborate in certain areas,” Gomez said.
This increased collaboration within Associated students, Hart thinks, has changed the dynamic of the Associated Students and the student government.
“I think you’ll find in the coming years that Associated Students will have a much larger presence on campus because its unified now … we are together everyday in here and I like that direction,” Hart said.
Application forms for student government can be found online at the Associated Students of Sonoma State University Facebook event page, Student Government Elections.