Incorporating ACUI Core Competencies into a Student Government Association Constitution

In the past two years, the ACUI Education Council re-evaluated the ACUI Core Competencies and made recommendations to the Board of Trustees to ensure that they continue to align with the ever-changing role of community builders on college campuses. Those recommendations, since adopted by the Board of Trustees, included updating language for all competencies and refocusing one core competency: Intercultural Proficiency is now Social Justice.

Two new competencies were introduced: Assessment, Evaluation, & Research; and Event Management. Two competencies were removed: Communication and Technology. Finally, two competencies—Management and Leadership—were combined to become Organizational Leadership. In addition to these changes, threads were identified to capture content areas that reside in and are critical to the successful practice of each competency.

 

These threads are: 

  • COMMUNICATION: The ability to successfully exchange information through verbal and nonverbal symbols and behaviors 
  • TECHNOLOGY: The ability to understand the overall intent of and to choose from appropriate tools, equipment, and procedures for service delivery and problem solving 
  • ETHICS: The ability to develop and maintain integrity 
  • EQUITY: Fair treatment, access, and opportunity in addition to striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of other groups Threads are thematically woven throughout all core competencies.

With these updated competencies, the Student Government Association at Albertus Magnus College in October 2019 saw an opportunity to incorporate these changes at a time of significant change in the association’s structure that included separation of the association from the student programming board and the creation of a campus activities board. With this new organizational structure came an opportunity to review existing role descriptions for student government officers, and with that followed a discussion about ACUI’s revised core competencies and what role they might play in this process.

Since 2018 association officers had recognized an inherent challenge in serving both as advocates to their fellow students while at the same time working on programming and building community through social, education and cultural programs. With the creation of a separate campus activities board, came an accompanying mission of providing the undergraduate student community with diverse social programs.

Campus activities board members now actively plan, implement, and host programs in an effort to create a memorable student experience, while student government association leaders are now able to spend a majority of their time advocating for student needs, wants, and concerns in an effort to improve the overall student experience at Albertus Magnus College.

During the process of creating a new governmental structure, discussions centered around designing an organization that would best serve students, build better relationships with the faculty and staff, and achieve more “buy-in” from campus administration. Part of that process included identifying the necessary association governmental positions that would be held by students. These positions needed to serve a dual role of being designed to benefit the student experience for the person in that role, and also contribute to the success of the student government association and entire student body. This process evolved into each job description correlating with the skill sets necessary for the SGA position and those skill sets identified in the unique individual who would be facilitating this position.

It was at this point that student leaders recognized a unique opportunity to implement ACUI’s newly revised core competencies into the student leadership job descriptions, embedding those competencies with the skills sets needed for the different roles. It was determined that a constitution committee be formed to determine how the competencies and the skill sets best matched. The committee consisted of members from the SGA executive board and SGA class senators, with guidance from the associate dean for campus activities and orientation.

The committee determined that the skill sets should include: advocacy, goal setting, awareness of self, management and development, marketing and communication technology, student development theory, general administration and management, programming and event planning, and training and development.   

These skills sets were determined by examining every position and identifying how each could advocate for student needs and concerns. At the same time each was reviewed for how these leaders would gain skills in these roles that would aid them as officers and support their success after graduation and into their professional lives. Faculty and staff advisors were also built into this model with respect to the core competencies and skill sets as these facilitators not only guide and support student success, but also learn, as well, throughout these experiences.  

Working with the expertise, guidance, and encouragement of advisors that included the assistant director for campus activities and the association dean for campus activities and orientation, student leaders coordinated a successful constitution committee that developed a structure and purpose toward implementing ACUI’s core competencies within the working constitution of the student government association. 

Following is the structure of the new student government association and each position’s relationship to specific core competencies as they were adopted within the new student government constitution approved in January 2020. 

Albertus Magnus College Student Government Association Officers: 

President

  • Core Competency - Social Justice 
  • Skill sets: Advocacy  Core Competency - Planning 
  • Skill sets: Goal Setting


Vice President 

  • Core Competency - Organizational Leadership
  • Skill sets: Awareness of Self


Treasurer

  • Core Competency - Fiscal Management 
  • Skill sets: Budget Management and Development


Director of Community Engagement

  • Core Competency - Student Learning 
  • Skill sets: Knowledge of Student Development Theory 


Secretary

  • Core Competency - Facility Management
  • Skill sets: General Administration and Management 


Senators

  • Core Competency - Event Management
  • Skill sets: Programming and Event Planning


Advisors

  • Core Competency - Human Resources
  • Skill sets: Training and Development

Since implementation, student leaders at Albertus Magnus College have a deeper understanding of the value and mission of ACUI’s core competencies and how they are relevant on various levels. With these new guiding principles in place, SGA has had a stronger presence when strategically advocating for the student body, collaborating with other student clubs and organizations, and in creating relationships with numerous departments on campus.

Since these new association committees have been created, impact and engagement has increased with campus partners, cabinet members, and department heads and directors. Just one example has been in response to student safety. Many students reflected a need to feel safe and comfortable while attending college and away from home, so the association initiated establishment of a relationship with public safety by forming a committee with staff from that office and student association members.The committee has addressed student concerns and worked with residential life to ensure student well-being and improved the speed and efficiency with which issues and complaints are addressed. Creating these campus partnerships allowed student government to strategically plan and create goals that would be beneficial for student learning and organizational leadership, develop a stronger presence in the campus community, and in the end, strengthen the governing team.

Jessica Reid, vice president of the student government association, said adding the core competencies to the organizational structure was already providing benefits.

“These core competencies relate to our student government association because, as a group, we continually develop our management skills, leadership towards the student population, planning skills, and evaluation skills through the oversight of all aspects relating to clubs and organizations on campus,” she said.  “We’re grateful for the ability to incorporate the ACUI Core Competencies into our organization and we recognize that ACUI is not only a great resource for the professional staff within student services, but also a great source of information and learning for undergraduate students, specifically those involved with the student government association,” Reid added.
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