College Government Collaborative to take projects beyond the bubble
Last year, sophomore Mamatha Challa was a new Student Union senator trying to work out a bike-sharing plan. She had to research what other universities had similar plans and where they succeeded and failed. Contact with other schools was sporadic, and the research took a long time.
If she tried to work on the same initiative this year, Challa, now the Speaker of the Senate would find research to be a lot easier, thanks to fellow SU senator Joseph Marcus.
Watching fellow senators struggle to research various projects motivated Marcus to come up with the Collegiate Government Collaborative (CGC).
“The goal of this was twofold—one of those was to spread our good ideas to other campuses so they could see what we were doing, and the other is bringing good projects from other schools to Wash.U.,” Marcus said.
Though still in its early phases, CGC will eventually become a comprehensive and living list of projects student governments across the country are working on.
Marcus set about contacting other student governments, taking the Princeton Review list of the best 351 schools and starting with the first 150.
So far, just over 30 student governments have agreed to participate, ranging from Brown to Cleveland State University to McGill.
CGC itself is currently a Google document, which permits schools to update their list of projects and comment on other schools. They can also view the contact information of the person working on a specific project.
“This takes out the bottleneck of information between the presidents and allows students interested in working on a project to contact non-executives working on the project,” Marcus said.
He hopes that eventually the Google document will turn into a website, especially as schools start adding their list of projects.
“We want functionality first and appearance and design second,” Marcus said.
Two schools have actually added their lists of projects so far: Penn State and UMass Amherst. The other 30-odd schools will be adding theirs soon.
Student government at Penn State has quickly reaped the benefits of this project, despite already meeting with student governments at other Big Ten schools.
“We have a lot of initiatives that we do, but one of the things we miss out on are the initiatives that don’t cater to our demographic, so I was looking more outside the Big Ten conference to find issues that pertain to students,” Penn State Student Body President Christian Dupree Ragland said.
Ragland has already emulated SU’s model for SyllabiCentral, which has all course syllabi online.
Student Union’s Vice President of Public Relations, junior Cody Katz, hopes the CGC will streamline the spread of information among student governments.
“I think CGC will allow us to not make the same mistakes people have made in the past. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel,” Katz said.
CGC is also a way for student governments to rapidly investigate projects they want to start.
“This is more of an empowering project,” Marcus said. “We’re doing some background work. It’s minimum time commitment and minimal resource commitment.”