Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The glue that keeps students together

Today our guest writer is Elan Bar, president of the Student Government Administration.  The SGA has five members who are elected by the student body at the beginning of the academic year. The Association has an important role to play: it organizes student clubs and activities, and serves as a link to the faculty and the administration. Although the SGA's members change every year, its essence remains the same -- it gives voice to student views and concerns, and is the glue that keeps the student body together.
Amina Abdiuahab

The Student Government Administration is the elected representative body of each year's class. The SGA reflects the class’s dynamics and personality, and becomes an amalgamation of 200 students.

This year, we have made it our priority to foster initiative among students. We have tried to create an environment in which students seek opportunities for personal enrichment. In our opinion, that enrichment is invaluable to the class in two specific ways:
  • It creates a diverse and intellectually stimulating environment in which different individuals pursue different areas of interest. This has allowed for more intimate discussions and more heated debates.
  • It encourages students to explore the unique opportunities made available to them within Italy and Europe.

The SGA at last week's Student General Meeting

This year we have had a student organize a career trip to Vienna, while another one took charge of our annual trip to Sarajevo. One of our classmates went to a remote locale in the Dolomites to learn about Somali pirates, while another attended the NATO summit in Lisbon. We have three students who are organizing a trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories in connection with a course being offered at SAIS BC this semester.

It would be inexcusable to discuss student initiative and not mention our illustrious Austrians. Each year they organize nearly 200 of us (most of whom cannot Sprechen Sie Deutsch), get us up to Vienna, organize sleeping arrangements and plan a night (and early morning) of sophisticated black-tie frivolity at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. This year’s group was no exception -- they were outstanding.

Three of the five SGA members
From right Elan, Tish and John
We feel that student initiative does not need to be only academic in nature. We want students to share their passions, hobbies and esoteric knowledge with the class. These events often take on a more leisurely form. Among other activities, we have had Scotch and wine tastings, yoga classes, cooking courses and trips to vineyards and ski areas organized by our classmates. Just last weekend, 50 of us sat down to dinner together in Venice for Carnevale.

The SGA, in the end, serves two fundamental purposes. First, we try to provide stability. We want students to feel that their needs are being addressed and their desires listened to. Second, we try to enrich the experience of our classmates here in Bologna by encouraging their ideas and supporting their pursuits. 

Elan Bar