Associated Student Government senators need to continue to expand their accessibility to their constituents on campus.
Bobcats will be inundated by the presence of student candidates politicking for votes as theelection campaign season approaches. This has been the most notable, if not only, encounter many Texas State students have with their representatives in student government over the years.
Kathy Weiser, assistant dean of students and ASG adviser, reminded the senate at the March 18 meeting that the student government’s mission is “students serving students.” It seems as though ASG’s executive leadership is striving toward making the entity more accessible to its constituents.
Two ASG Round Table discussions have been held and engagement weeks have been implemented, according to ASG vice president Alison Sibley.
“Our success as representatives is based on our relationship with our constituents, and accessibility is an important factor when dealing with those relationships,” Sibley said in an email.
ASG members are working from the top to encourage accessibility to fellow students, as Sibley’s examples demonstrate. There is still more to be done to help build a stronger bridge between ASG senators and constituents, and this responsibility lies with the senators themselves.
One ASG senator argued for informing classmates of the bus fee referendum vote during the debate and discussion period of the March 18 meeting. The senator suggested fellow ASG members ask instructors to explain the vote’s importance to students during a brief time at the start of their classes. This is a prime example of the exact kind of outreach ASG members should continue carrying out to better connect with the student body.
There are potentially many among the ranks of ASG whose leadership will one day reach beyond the corridors of Texas State. They must first master tackling on-campus issues if these exceptional individuals want to make a lasting impact on local, state or even national policy in the future. The key to drafting and enacting good legislation is knowing a constituency well.
Accessibility is critical to the success of any government, especially one at the college level. As such, the senators cannot limit interactions by only addressing Bobcats who are their friends and acquaintances. It is imperative for ASG members to go out and talk to random students about their campus needs and suggestions to ensure the success of the student government. ASG senators must actively engage with students throughout campus in places such as The Quad, the LBJ Bus Loop, The Den and the Student Recreation Center. These students need to do this regularly with as much vigor as during the heady days of election campaigning. This kind of outreach and personal interaction with constituents should become a fixture of ASG.
ASG carries the risk of being perceived as little more than an extracurricular project for specific students, much like an organization exclusive to certain majors. The truth is ASG does a lot of good work benefitting the entirety of the student body. The considerable dearth of everyday face-to-face interaction with students puts ASG in danger of appearing irrelevant to the campus as a whole.
A truly bold initiative for greater accessibility would be for ASG senators to invite someone outside their circle of friends to the group’s spring banquet. An action like this would heighten and highlight the good will, openness and transparency of ASG between senators and their constituents.
Student engagement by ASG senators should not be limited to a few weeks during election time. This outreach needs to be ongoing and evolving throughout the entirety of the school year.