Milner with SA Vice President Henry
Bell cheering the crowd on at Cougar
Kick-Off. Photo by Tricia Garcia
As aSA Resident
In many aspects being the student body president is like running a
company. The job title comes with an inherent list of responsibilities. The official role,
the one that most students know about, is the duty of representing the views of all 34,000
University of Houston students. Other roles include working directly working directly
with UH administration, Austin legislators and overseeing Students' Association's
The largest time consumption is that which is allocated to daily meetings with
the administration. This includes individual meetings with the president, vice president
for student affairs, dean of students and the official SA representatives. Also, much time
is spent in a committee meeting. Any time a new committee is formed, the presence of
the SA president is always requested. UH is excellent about forming committees to ensure
proper representation in problem handling. If a decision needs to be made, a committee
is usually formed to make that decision. The committee system allows over 150 students
to become part of the policy-shaping committees on campus.
Once in office, the first duty is planning the annual back to school party, Cougar
Kick-Off. The SA president assumes full responsibility for all organizing and preparing
the event. This usually takes up the bulk of the summer, since the event itself takes place
the first week of the fall semester.
After Cougar Kick-Off, it's back to trying to fulfill campaign promises (much like
that of a real politician). Actually accomplishing what was promised is a lot harder than
most would think. Many find this harder than anticipated because there is a lot of red tape
when dealing with the University of Houston. You must first find out who is the right
person to contact and then actually meet with them. This process is usually preceded and
concluded with an extensive memo paper trail (which suggest their need for decent
writing skills). As for implementation, if it's not a controversial issue, the process will
of course be easier. Also, if the administration is not ready to take action, then rarely will
any action take place.
Every other year in odd years, the Austin legislature is in session. During this
time the duties of the SA president greatly expand. Not unlike local politics, constituents
seldom realize what impact their political leaders make through legislation. Accordingly,
the Students' Association takes an aggressive role in legislation analysis. The student
body president is the spokesperson for the students' views on legislation.
Along with the tedious requirements comes the social perks. The student body
president receives many invitations to various receptions, banquets and galas. A few of
which may require a speech and many allow recognition. For those who do not posses
an adequate wardrobe, this could present a financial problem since many events require
either business attire or black-tie attire.
Why on earth would someone want to take a position where the cons well out
weigh the pros? The real benefits of the position are intangible. As president, you may
also improve your public speaking and people skills. It is a good learning experience for
anyone interested in politics. (And it certainly won't harm anyone's resume!)
Personally, I chose to run for this position because as an optimist (coming of
course from the College of Humanities, Fine Arts & Communications), I thought I could
make all the things wrong with the university right. I was wrong. Having spent five years
here, I have seen enough to know what I am talking about, and although it was tough,
I feel I did create some positive change. Like many students that attend this school, I love
the University of Houston. I have to admit, through this enlightening journey as student
body president, I have learned a great deal more of the inner workings of the university.
I don't know if I like the workings any more today than I did a year ago, but I can now
respect them more.
In retrospect, I feel that my year spent as student body president was one of the
greatest years of my life. I would recommend that all students become involved in campus
government, for this is strongly how to learn the lessons that no lecture hall can impart.
It is a year of hard work that requires full dedication; a high pride that yield great rewards.
The position can provide the skills necessary for a successful business or political career,
or simply allow you to make your mark on this fine institution. Whatever the outcome,
be prepared for the challenge and give no less than the title deserves.
Student Body President