Guide to Running for Student Government

Your student government represents the student body for your college campus. It provides a unique opportunity for you to get involved in student life, which may have far-reaching implications for your own professional career. 

Why Run for Student Government? 

Instead of asking “Why run?” you could ask, “Why not?” It can be a wonderful opportunity to connect with your fellow students as you get involved in entry-level politics. You can organize activities and events. 

Benefits 

Running for student government can mean a range of great benefits for you and your future career. Here’s a quick list of how a student government position might benefit you. 

  • Build your resume: Running for and winning a position in the student government is a feather in your cap, but it’s also a critical component of the professional resume that you’re developing. Include all the roles that you took on, as well as what you helped to make happen on campus. 
  • Develop professional skills: In your role as a representative in student government, you may organize events, participate in meetings, manage or participate in budgetary discussions, as well as take on a myriad of other responsibilities that are critical skills for your professional development. 
  • Earn a scholarship: You may be eligible for scholarships or grants based on your participation in student government. It’s one way that organizations encourage the development of leadership skills. 
  • Figure out what you enjoy doing: If you think you might be interested in politics or taking on leadership roles as part of your career path, you can try it out to see if you actually enjoy it. 
  • Foster relationships: You’ll have the opportunity to connect with other representatives in student government, but you can also connect with volunteers, the administration staff, faculty members, and other key staff and support roles. 
  • Improve the school: There’s always room for improvement in any organization. This is your opportunity to participate in the discussions that could inspire change on campus. 
  • Work as a team: Teamwork isn’t always easy. Student government brings together individuals with different voices and perspectives with the common goal of making decisions that will affect the student body. 

You can further develop and deepen your relationships with your fellow students and student-government representatives. These connections will inform your decisions in student government. You may draw upon the networks that first began on campus. 

Challenges

It’s not always easy to run for student government. You might be running against talented individuals, some of whom have a wealth of experience in student government. Here are a few of the challenges you may face as you consider running for student government.

  • Committing the time: Attending college is demanding. If you add on the demands of work, family, friends, and other social organizations, you may have enough on your plate already. Running for student government may be more than you can handle. 
  • Ensuring balance: Consider whether you are dedicated enough to the cause of student government. It’s not for everyone. Will you be able to balance the demands of school, work, and home life?
  • Recruiting volunteers: You will be most effective in student government if you’re able to recruit and train volunteers who can help support your goals. You may need volunteers for the events and activities that you’d like to host for students. Volunteers can also help you with your campaign activities, as you promote your candidacy.
  • Working with others: A role in student government means that you should be able to work with others, even if you don’t always agree with what they say and do. Not everyone is adept at working with others, but you can learn to improve your team-building and collaborative skills. 

Student government may be the opportunity you’ve been looking for. It can be a great way to take on some of the challenges that you recognize in yourself. So, you can learn and grow with your personal and professional skills, while making a difference in campus life and connecting with a great network of dedicated individuals. 

How Student Governments are Structured 

Student government is often structured in the same way as what you would see in the federal government. So, the focus may be structured with executive, judicial, and legislative functions. 

Common Roles 

  • President: This role is the chief executive officer, with the responsibility to represent the student government. The role often takes on tasks that involve daily business operations, including budget planning. 
  • Vice president: This position acts on behalf of the President as necessary. The Vice President participates in meetings, budget planning, and other activities.
  • Secretary: This role maintains records for the student government organization. 
  • Treasurer: As the financial officer, this role manages financial accounts and budgets, with authorization from the student government body. 
  • Advisor: This role is usually taken on by a faculty member on campus. The person should be knowledgeable about the on-campus rules, responsibilities, policies, and procedures. So, they can offer advice and recommendations. 
  • Committee chair, chair, directors, or representative: They may have different titles, but the purpose of these positions is to represent the best interests of the student body. 

The roles and responsibilities of student government representatives can vary widely from one campus to the next. Learn more about the structure of your student government. Then, determine the level of responsibility you’d like to take on. 

How to Run for Student Government 

Running for student government is easier than you probably imagine. It’s really just a matter of deciding which role you’d like to run for. If you’d like to be the treasurer, for example, you can put together a plan for how you will let your fellow students know why your skills and knowledge make you the ideal candidate for that role in the student government. 

As you prepare, outline how you will present yourself with talking points, a campaign logo, and other materials that you’ll use to demonstrate why you’re the best person for the role. Here are a few tips that will help.

Tips 

If you’re passionate about achieving any goal, these tips will help. Think of it as practice for when you run for office, or even if you plan to gain support for your candidacy for other leadership roles in organizations. Here are some tips. 

  • Get your name out there. Let your audience know why you’re the best person for the role.
  • Start early. Don’t wait until the last minute to start your campaign. 
  • Recruit volunteers. Running for student government is not something you have to do alone. Get help from friends and gather other supporters. 
  • Know what you believe. You don’t always need to share your views, but you should know where you stand on issues. Make sure you understand how your position might affect others on campus. 

Make sure you’re clear on why you are running for student government. It’s easy to get caught up in running and forget why you’re doing it in the first place. If you’re doing it to make a difference in student life, remember you’re not alone. Lots of other students will support you and your efforts. 

Communicate effectively to recruit other students to help, but also to let them know why you’ve decided to take a stand. It’s a big job, and there’s lots of work to go around. Rely on your network, your supporters, and your fellow student government representatives to achieve the most important objectives. 

Student Government Campaign Ideas 

You probably already have a bunch of student government campaign ideas, but where do you start? How do you convey your message? How do you let your fellow students know who you are and what you’d like to accomplish by taking on this role with the student government? 

Brand Yourself

When you run for student government, you’re selling yourself and your message. If you haven’t already considered how to brand yourself, now’s the time. If you have a friend who’s a graphic designer, you can ask them to help you create your logo, capture imagery of yourself, and create a look and feel for the campaign that’s uniquely you

Poster Ideas 

Once you’ve branded yourself, you can move on with other student government campaign ideas. Use your brand to make posters that reflect who you are and what your message is. Make them colorful and compelling, but remember you’ll also need to distribute them across campus to persuade your fellow students to vote for you. 

Multimedia Presence

Capture video and create dynamic messaging around who you are and the causes you care about, as part of your student government campaign ideas. Tap into your connections and followers on social media to make sure your ideas are getting out there. You need your fellow students to identify with you so they know who you are and what you want to accomplish. 

Remember, you’re not going to run for student government and win overnight. You need to plan, rely on your networks, and develop your voice and messaging. Student government represents a valuable opportunity for your own growth and future career options, but it’s not an easy path. Tap into the resources you need to succeed, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Student Government Resources 

Here are a few resources that will support and offer tips for what you need to know about student government for your campus. You’ll find directions on how to develop your message, where to recruit volunteers, and how to work with the registrar. 

  • Running a Campus Food Pantry: Here’s a quick guide to help student leaders run a food pantry on college campuses. 
  • Student Vote: Here’s a basic guide for what you should know when you need to successfully run for student government. 

Every college campus may have unique rules and requirements you should know when you’re running for student government. Check-in with the current student government on your campus to find more resources and information you’ll need to know as you run for student government. 

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