Students in power

The purpose of Student Government and how students can join

Student Government is a student organization at North Dakota State. Currently, there are 21 participating members with more available positions for Student Senate.

Student Government takes a standard government model of separation of powers with three different branches: legislative, executive and judicial. Each branch has a specific role in the organization.

The legislative branch has different senators from each college to represent their school. Student Senate positions are either elected or appointed. Each college will have a certain number of seats designated based on the number of students within the college.

Current public relations officer Taylor Schmidt described the legislative branch’s focus as “changing and incorporating new policies within the campus or creating resolutions to support or oppose a statewide policy on behalf of NDSU students.”

The executive branch works with the student body president and students. This branch works with various student organizations on campus and handles external affairs, such as working with state legislators. There are seven major executive positions, excluding the president, vice president and chief justice.

The judicial branch focuses on issues reported by student organizations. In regard to the judicial branch’s role, Schmidt explained, “Student Court helps interpret and enforces the NDSU Student Body constitution, Student Government code, Student Senate legislation and executive commissioner guidelines for the student organization.”

“Essentially, if a student organization has an issue within their organization, we can help them interpret or rule on the validity of an action, if necessary,” Schmidt said.

The main work of student government is allocating a $3 million budget for over 200 different student organizations along with many projects to improve the NDSU campus.

One of their side projects for the 2018-2019 academic year was advocating for student safety. “A lot of students have vocalized that they don’t necessarily feel safe walking around at night on campus,” Schmidt said. “But what they don’t realize is that we have an app that you can turn on and it will track you in a sense, so the police will know where you are. So if you don’t make it to the place where you said you were going to, then they know where to go and find you.”

“There’s also an escort system. There’s a number on the campus you could call, and a police officer will escort you whenever you need it,” Schmidt said.

One of the other projects Student Government is pushing for is open educational resources (OER). These resources would offer students freely accessible academic resources.

“We gave a grant to Kimberly Booth in the biology department for an OER,” Schmidt said. “This summer she is going to be working on creating that for her students, so in the following year, her biology students don’t have to buy textbooks, which is a big deal because some textbooks can cost $200. Especially for (general education) classes, it can save 200 students a huge amount of money.”

Student Government is also currently focusing more on student-initiated projects. This means focusing on students who may not be in an organization or a part of Student Government, but still want to voice their opinion and make changes.

There are no specific requirements to join Student Government. Student Government is open to any student candidates regardless of the current standing of their academic year or their major.

Schmidt shared the personal benefits she gained participating in Student Government.

“I’ve gained a lot of leadership, but obviously I’ve gained a lot of experience that I could talk about on my résumé or interview,” Schmidt said. “I’ve also gained connections around the campus that I could reach out to people when I need help with something. But honestly, the community and friends are what I gained from it.”

There are also executive commissioner positions available for students.

“Whoever wants to join doesn’t need to be in Student Government. You can just be general students and help out, and you can do different projects in that nature if you don’t necessarily have enough time to join Student Government or if you’re just trying to get a feel for it,” Schmidt explained.

The application process for Student Senate and Student Court will begin in early September.

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