Marygrove’s newly-elected student government cabinet attended the American Student Government Association (ASGA) training conference in Orlando this summer to prepare for the coming school year. The cabinet is the first elected student body government at Marygrove College in two years—an enormous source of pride for the college—and especially for Garth E. Howard, Director of Student Life. “The number of undergraduate students who voted in this election exceeded our expectations…that’s outstanding!” he said. “The students have been heard—they wanted representation, and they worked hard to achieve it.”
ASGA membership was one of the first orders of business for Juliana Mosley, Ph.D., Marygrove’s new Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management. The ASGA is an important resource for student government training; it’s an active network of more than 5,000 student governments around the country. The ASGA will provide the research and support students need to grow their student government at Marygrove.
Howard attended the ASGA advisor sessions in Orlando, too. He describes his first, four-member student government cabinet like a proud father would. “Our students stood out at the conference,” he says. “The way they carried themselves, the way they worked together…other students were looking to them for advice.”
Student Government President Brittany Mack agrees. “In most of our sessions, people kept asking us how we were able to get things done,” she said. “Even though we are just getting started, our cabinet has done a lot of research, and has had more access to senior leadership than many of the other student governments we met from larger schools. So, maybe it shows!”
Access to leadership is key for these students, and arguably to any student government that wants to embrace positive change. More than a campaign slogan, they had voiced the need to strengthen the connection between Marygrove’s student body and administration. Permission granted.
“It seemed like we had just taken our oaths and the next thing we knew, Dr. Mosley had meetings scheduled for us with President Fike and the Board of Trustees!” Mack says. She didn’t waste any time. That’s because these students, and the commitments they have made to the college, are highly valued and respected. That respect will no doubt trickle down to the rest of the student body. It’s on the agenda.
Respect is an over-riding agenda item in student government.
Mosley and Howard have been working hard to align the proper resources for the new board, to give them the necessary tools to do their jobs. “Dr. Mosley has the vision, and it is my job to execute it,” Howard says. “…none of this would’ve been possible without her vision and expertise.”
Howard appreciates the mentoring he’s found in Mosley. He was an assistant basketball coach for the Marygrove Mustangs when the opening for Student Life Director came along—you might say he jumped at the chance. “Working with the student athletes was great, athletics in general teaches young people so many good things about life,” he adds. “You have to stick with the game—you can’t quit. But above all, you must be a team player.”
Those happen to be the qualities that many people on campus use to describe their new student cabinet, a diverse, tightly knit team in every way. “We have ethnicity, gender and even program of study differences- you name it,” Mack said, “We all knew each other before the election, but our shared goal here at Marygrove is making our personal relationships with each other that much stronger.”
Since April’s election, they’ve become fast friends– putting their camaraderie and friendships first– just like true “millennials.” Present-day college students are largely comprised of what is referred to as the millennial generation, babies born between the years of 1980 and 1995. They are known to be fiercely loyal friends and more tech savvy than any other demographic group. But this cabinet parts ways with typical millennials when it comes to perceived work ethic. They work hard, most of them with more than one volunteer job in addition to work and school. But they like to have a good time, too.
“In Orlando, we really bonded,” Mack relays. “We would take walks, and the science majors (among us) would be so interested in the Florida lizards jumping out everywhere, and all the huge insects—but some of us were freaked out by it…that would be me! We all just laughed; every time something moved in the grass, I thought it was an alligator. The best thing about us is we can work hard and keep laughing at the same time—it doesn’t mean we aren’t serious; it just means we love what we’re doing.”
“The best thing about us is we can work hard and keep laughing at the same time.”
Aha...another insight into the millennial mind, something that has been analyzed and debated in the popular media of late. 60 Minutes produced a segment about the millennials and the workplace. Many of them view success as simply liking their jobs. They believe you should do what you enjoy, and the money will follow. (The 1970’s called and they want their slogan back). Baby Boomers have heard that before, but they didn’t really buy into it. Millennials seem to live it.
An actual millennial like Brittany Mack will also tell you that her generation has various tools and ways to finish a task, many that do not necessarily fit traditional modes or expectations. Millennials like efficiency; often viewing their electronic gadgets as extensions of themselves.
So when Mack and fellow political science student Paula Langley founded the first-ever charter in Michigan for the social sciences association Pi Gamma Mu, they successfully rallied new members with e-mail, Twitter and text messages. Incidentally, their student government election took place electronically as well, with special provisions for voter privacy. Millennials wouldn’t have it any other way—it’s far more efficient to move from ballot box to inbox.
Marygrove’s student government executive board is currently re-writing the student constitution to more closely reflect student mission and goals. “It is no small task,” Howard adds, “but this group has the enthusiasm to get it done. “These are extraordinary students who are being groomed to be extraordinary urban leaders.” Motion carried.
The members of the 2011-12 Marygrove Student Executive Board with their majors noted are Brittany Mack, President, Political Science and Business; Anthony Butler, Vice President, Chemistry; Malcolm Brinker, Treasurer, Biology; and Sholanda Presbery, Secretary, Forensic Science and Chemistry.