First among equals: A profile of the American college student government president
Michael T Miller, Daniel P Nadler
To accomplish a central role in higher education decision-making, students have developed and refined an intricate system of shared governance, typically resulting in a formal body referred to a student government. As college student governments have evolved, they have assumed positions of great power at some institutions, and at others, are rarely even consulted in decision-making. A by-product of this evolution has been a changing role for the leader of these organizations, commonly referred to as a student government president. The current investigation attempted to describe the individuals, their characteristics, and their perceptions about the issues they work with on their campuses. Using a research-team developed survey instrument, a US national sample of research-focused institutions were identified, and their student government presidents were surveyed. Student leaders were described in terms of their class standing, their election protocols, the benefits they receive from serving in the elected leadership position, and the challenges they face on their campuses. The most challenging issues they reported facing were parking (access to campus), and student involvement, and when asked to freely identify the most pressing issue they were working with during the current semester, they identified the costs associated with attending college in the form of fees outside of tuition.