Models of Student Governance at Large Research Institutions

Topics: Student Government, Student Organizations and Activities, Student Experience, Student Affairs, Student Activity Fees

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Large institutions often maintain complex student governments with both central and constituent governing bodies; however, high complexity and poor working relationships can reduce student government efficacy. This report profiles models for student governance at six large research institutions. It investigates model attributes that enable successful working relationships and strategies that university administrators and student leaders employ to minimize and resolve conflicts.

  • Key observations from our research:

    1. All central student governments maintain a students’ council with different mechanisms to determine its composition.

    2. Some central student governments develop third governing bodies, such as advisory boards, that share and balance power across the government.

    3. Central student government leaders encourage informal forums that emphasize civil discourse and professional development programs.

    4. Student government effectiveness fluctuates; therefore, contacts emphasize the importance of professional development and advising.

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