ACC’s Student Government Association and How You Can Get Involved

Story by Gloria Nguyen

Graphics by Kate Korepova

Edited by Pete Ramirez

The Student Government Association (SGA) is a student organization comprised of members who have been duly elected from the student body of Austin Community College District.

According to SGA’s constitution, their goals are to facilitate understanding of democracy in our college, promote involvement among all members of the college community, and most importantly, to make the interests of the student body heard in our college in academic, institutional and campus affairs.

“A strong, enthusiastic and well-trained SGA, is for the betterment of all ACC students”

Mohammed Elghoul, advisor for ACC’s Student Government Association

In order to fulfill their goals and ensure they are listening to students, SGA recruits students from all 11 campuses and from all aspects of life. 

Mohammed Elghoul, SGA’s advisor, says this approach improves the lives of the student body. “When ACC students have quicker access to an SGA member at their grade reviews or a more immediate place to express their concerns, student lives are better,” Elghoul said.  

A group of students stand out side and smile for a picture in front of a tall clock tower.
Members of Austin Community College’s Student Government Association stand for a picture with their advisor, Muhammed Elghoul, during the recent Conference on Student Government Associations. Photo provided by Muhammed Elghoul

In line with their approach to being an advocate for the student body, SGA is currently focused on a district-wide information-gathering campaign collecting feedback to better understand the needs and state of housing for ACC students. Their short survey has been shared by the school via email and can also be found here.

SGA tries its best to represent ACC students but COVID-19 has made it challenging to find opportunities to connect directly with the student body. 

“One of which, which is a bit challenging now because of the COVID, is to have fellow students come to a selected location and talk to them,” Elghoul said. “That way we can figure out what is important for fellow students.”

One off-campus activity that took a pause due to the challenges of the pandemic was the annual toy drive that is coordinated by SGA with the help of the honors society, Phi Theta Kappa. This event, which serves underprivileged youth in Travis County, is one of the student organization’s largest events of the year.

“We collect toys from boxes on most campuses,” Elghoul said. “Students bring the toys to the sheriff’s office. They have a list of families in need and want toys for the holiday and do an annual donation drive.”

The current president of ACC’s SGA, Isaiah Smith, is working with his team to develop more ideas for events and activities where students can connect with SGA members.

An young African-American man dressed in a suit and bowtie smiles for a photo with an American flag in the background of one side of the frame.
Austin Community College’s Student Government Association President Isaiah Smith. Smith and the SGA strive to advocate for all ACC students. Photo provided by Isaiah Smith

“We’re trying to get other departments at ACC involved in SGA activities,” Smith, said. “SGA is supposed to be representing our school as a whole, not just SGA members.”

Smith is leveraging his position within SGA and his expanding network of connections to improve the lives of all ACC students.

“I’m in the process of building a massive communication channel,” Smith said. “If any of our students have any issues, maybe with safety, we can easily get in touch with the ACC Police Department.”

Apply now to be a member during SGA’s 2022-2023 academic year.

As a member of SGA, students have opportunities to travel and meet other student leaders at other colleges, be invited to local exclusive events and represent their fellow students. 

The application period has started and will end on April 13. 

Find the application here.

Elections run from April 15 to April 25. 

There are many positions that can be filled by students and they are all up for election. A full list of positions can be found here.

Only prior SGA members can run for executive board positions. Senate positions are open to all.

All applicants are required to be enrolled in a minimum of 6 credit hours and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA.

“We used to [hold the election] over the course of 7 days, so by 10 days, people will have more time to prepare and encourage people to vote for them,” Elghoul said. 

As the student leader of SGA, Smith points out some characteristics that members of SGA should cultivate. 

Smith said members should be assertive, flexible and caring. 

For future members of the organization, Smith’s advice is simple: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” 

A group of students stand inside and smile for a picture next to large letters lit up in lights that spell "COSGA."
Members of Austin Community College’s Student Government Association stand for a picture during a recent Conference on Student Government Associations. Photo provided by Muhammed Elghoul

Elghoul is committed to continuing to guide the SGA to better understand and serve the ACC student body. 

“If you want to represent the students, you have to know the students,” Elghoul said.

For more information about SGA, check out their website and follow them on Twitter and Instagram. If you have any questions about SGA, you can reach out to Elghoul at [email protected]

Student Government Association takes on Washington DC

Photo Story by: Nikoo Vafaee

Hello Washington DC! The E-board members from ACC’s Student Government Association recently took a trip to Washington DC to attend the American Student Government Association conference. The conference was located in their hotel which included daily workshops on how to better their leadership, make connections, and more! After all the training they then got to explore many historical sites. Come along and see some photos of Washington DC!

Student Government Association Serves ACC

Written by Wes Eng

Since this past semester, the Student Government Association (SGA) has been working for you. SGA hosts events such as the talent show, DACA events, the Constitution Debate Day Celebration, book drives and more. The success of these events has been due to student contribution.

This semester brings some change to the structure of SGA. There will be a new Senate, promoting more student outreach to draw in more students. The new structure calls for Town Hall meetings on every campus. This will allow anyone to voice their opinions directly to SGA members. The intent of these meetings is to make easier for anyone at ACC to have their ideas heard. These ideas will then become the responsibility of the SGA.

This means SGA will take these ideas through the appropriate channels to make it a reality. The job of SGA has always been to ensure that every person at ACC has a voice and these Town Hall meetings will allow those who have not been heard to have their opportunity.

An ongoing project for SGA is the Open Education Resources. This project is working with the administration to supply classes with materials such as books and study materials, at no cost to the students. Several classes already offer this. “It’s still in the process, but every semester they add more classes,” says SGA President Richard Vega. “I’ve even taken one of these classes. It was a chemistry class where they used an open stacks chemistry textbook; which saves me $200 to $300. If you put this into the grand scheme of every student, that teacher might teach 4 or 5 sections, all those students are saving so much money. Those students
aren’t stuck working to pay off their textbooks, but instead, they are able to spend that time home studying instead. ”

Another ongoing project is opening of a 24-hour facility on the main ACC campuses. SGA hopes this will allow students an area where they can meet and study. SGA plans find how much an interest this has among the student population through a survey. The committee will also seek suggestions on what the students would like to be provided in these
24-hour facilities, if they do become a reality.

SGA members being sworn into their new positions
SGA members being sworn into their new positions

SGA Shakily Stands Up

Story and photo by Anthony DeVera, repoter

The Student Government Association has had to start from the ground up this school year.

“We started off trying to find our sea legs,” William (Peck) Young, Faculty Sponsor and Director of ACC ’s Center for Public Policy and Political Studies said.

In the absence of an advisor who resigned without any notice in the beginning of July this year, Young believes the organization has handled the situation well.

Along with Keisha Gray, Coordinator for the CPPPS, Young provides administrative support for the efforts of the student-run organization.

“The executive board is filled with some of the best young talent I have worked with in my entire life,” Young said.

The students have taken firm control of the direction of the organization, namely by reconstructing it from the ground up.

“We decided to create our own constitution just to have our voices in it and how we want to structure it,” Carrie Woodruff, an economics major who serves as Vice President, said.

President Alison Judice, who intends to major in Political Science, is concerned with the school community’s awareness of the SGA.

“A lot of people don’t know about [us]. A lot of people are still learning that we exist,” Judice said. “That is quite an issue. The student body has to know we’re here if we are going to be their voice.”

Attempting to maintain SGA representation on all campuses, members held a discussion which seemingly moved nowhere for more than an hour about the selection process for senators.

“We are arguing semantics,” Highland Campus Senator Garrett Grimmett said.

Throughout the discussion, senators provided opposing views in what can be described as back-and forth nonsense.

“There is a process in which we speak.” Ian Slingsby, Riverside Campus Senator, said in an attempt to police the conversation, referring to Robert’s Rules of Order.

Young advises the students to work more on listening to each other, and not waiting to speak next.

“They need to understand a bit better the Robert’s Rules of Order,” Young said. “The smartest thing they can do is listen to each other.”

In an effort to develop the skills needed to operate efficiently, SGA has hired Walter Wright J.D., a professor who teaches mediation in the Department of Political Science’s Legal Studies program at Texas State University. Wright gave a series of training sessions, which was open to all members of the ACC student body, based on a program of negotiation developed at Harvard Law School.

“We needed this yesterday,” Shant Soghomonian, the Constituent Senator for International Students said.

After a few training sessions, the students started to utilize their newly developed negotiation skills. Ongoing discussions on topics such as the senatorial selection process, now only take up to twelve minutes of the 3-hour long bi-weekly general assembly meetings.

In addition to preparing themselves for a career in politics, SGA’s efforts for the local community are currently focused on ACC’s “I CAN READ!” children’s book drive.

SGA Secretary Amy Calhoun recalled a conversation she had with a local police officer who expressed gratitude for the book drive’s efforts.

“[The officer] said there were some Christmases where [the officer’s family] couldn’t afford to get their kids gifts,” Calhoun said. “The drive allowed them to at least get something