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Student Senate, Board of Student Organizations

University of Southern Maine

Promising Approaches

  • (4)  Encourage and support activities and student and community organizations that provide opportunities for students to be engaged in their campuses and communities
  • (5)  Encourage student participation in leadership and campus and community governance.
  • (6)  Encourage student participation in forums that model democratic processes and procedures, both curricular and co- [extra] curricular.

Overview

Students elected by the undergraduate student body operate as a Senate, funded through a student activity fee.  They hold formal meetings weekly and deal with a range of issues from student services to residence hall policies to curricular matters.  They also empower and fund a Board of Student Organizations, which funds and oversees the activities of recognized student organizations.   A separately elected Student Body President is spokesperson for all undergraduate students, and appoints student representatives to take part in committee work of all sorts.

Learning objectives:

  • Identify community social issues and create possible solutions
  • Develop a sense of civic duty, leadership, and responsibility leading to service in the community
  • Understand political processes and power issues that may lead to oppression
  • Identify and develop life goals, personal interests and abilities
  • Identify opportunities obtained from experiential education for transition from school to work

Special Features

Civic Learning Goals

  • Civic Knowledge:…characteristics and actions of effective, participating citizens…identify and describe their community…identify, local problems and their connections to problems on the state and national levels…ways an individual can help solve societal problems…knowledge of community affairs, political issues, processes by which citizens effect change…knowledge of social movements and strategies for change
  • Civic Skills:…evaluate information for objectivity, accuracy, point of view…apply information to effective efforts to help solve societal problems…assess consequences of and appropriate context for personal action…develop and use critical thinking skills and ethical reasoning to make informed and responsible decisions…develop and use verbal and written communication skills…work cooperatively with others and develop teambuilding practices…effectively advocate individual and shared interests…public speaking…contacting public (and university) officials…organize meetings…become informed about community affairs, political issues, and processes by which citizens effect change…competencies in achieving group goals…forge coalitions among those with varied interests…effectively promote goals  in contentious political arenas…organize people to address social issues…petition and protest to influence policy…vote
  • Civic Attitudes/Dispositions:  Willingness to enter dialogue about different points of view…recognize and respect different backgrounds…sense of personal efficacy…affective attachment to the community…respect for individual and group identities…concern for the greater good…contribute to civil society…concern for welfare and rights of others…contribute personally to civic and political action…practice civic duties…

Contact Information

Chris O’Connor at USM
http://student-groups.usm.maine.edu/senate

Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools: Education for Democracy