Since the election of the first student body president in 1896 and the creation of student government in 1909, the role of the Student Government Association (SGA) has varied depending upon the needs of the student body. The SGA addressed honor code violations until the creation of Honor Council in 1959. From 1959 on, the SGA turned its attention to the general well-being of the student body. As of 2011, the SGA’s goals are to promote student communication, spread awareness of campus policies, and provide student representation to the Board of Trustees.
Although the SGA is not a direct service organization, serving on the SGA is a form of civic engagement and service that benefits the student body. The entire student body elects the President and Vice-President, and individual classes elect class senators and a president. Except for the freshmen class that elects six senators, each class elects three senators.
Each social organization elects one senator. Independents, or students not in a social organization, elect a number of senators depending upon the proportion of independents to the student body. Those elected are expected to serve the constituents they represent and improve the quality of life at Davidson College. In order to achieve its goals, the SGA has organized service initiatives that have centered around fundraising and negotiating social conflicts on campus.
In 1980, the SGA began a phonathon to raise money for the Living Endowment and later the Annual Fund. While the Development Office took responsibility for the Phonathon around 2000, the SGA continues to fundraise for the Annual Fund.
Under the umbrella of the Annual Fund, the Davidson Trust provides financial aid so that all students graduate debt free. In 2010, the SGA began an annual fundraiser for the Davidson Trust, Dinner at Davidson. The SGA organized the Phonathon and Dinner at Davidson, but it relied on support from the greater student body. These initiatives ensure that Davidson will remain strong for future generations of students.
In addition to providing funds for Davidson, the SGA has attempted to alleviate tension on campus by creating opportunity for open dialogue. For example, in response to a 1986 KKK march through the town of Davidson, the SGA organized a Solidarity Committee to address the challenges facing minority students on campus. When the issue of cultural insensitivity arose again in 2011, the SGA organized a discussion open to the entire student body.
The Solidarity Committee ultimately gave way to individual social awareness groups on campus as well as an entire arm of the Student Government Association devoted to organizing community service initiatives known as the UCA, or United Community Action. Thus, the Solidarity Committee served a vital role as a trailblazer for later student organizations for social mediation and awareness.
Depending on the social climate of Davidson College, the SGA adapts its initiatives to best serve the student body. While the needs of the student body evolve, the SGA will respond in kind, as it has demonstrated time and again throughout its history.
Student Government Association Bylaws. 8 April 2002. Davidson College. Davidson, NC
Authors: By Genevieve Nielsen, Nicholas Norris and Matt Zarth
Date: 21 April 2011
Cite as Nielsen, Genevieve, Nicholas Norris. and Matt Zarth “Student Government Association and Service.” Davidson College 21 April 2011. http://libraries.davidson.edu/archives/encyclopedia/student-government-assocation-and-service