“The possibilities are what we as students make them.”
Our principles and practices call upon us to ensure students are represented in campus decision making. For that reason Earlham Student Government (ESG) is making a comeback. Having been on a brief hiatus since the spring of 2022 ESG has undergone a restructuring process, including a constitutional rewrite. This restructuring has been carried out by the ESG revitalization committee, a student group created with the goal of rebuilding student government as a pillar of community governance. But before we dive into what the return of ESG will mean for students and campus at large, it is important to ask, what is ESG?
A little history to start with—ESG has been a primary means of student representation and advocacy for many decades. Though not always a consistent feature of student life (more on that later), ESG has historically attempted to have a powerful influence on campus issues while maintaining a high degree of independence from administration. ESG has also coordinated with other student groups to address student concerns. These actions are all reliant on student representatives, the core element of ESG. This core representational structure of ESG has changed throughout the years. Past ESG structures have drawn representatives from various groups, from club conveners, housing groups, or class years. In its current structure, student representatives will also include students who are on Earlham standing committees, enabling ESG to stay up-to-date and involved in committee discussions.
Now to address an earlier point regarding ESG’s presence year to year. ESG remains viable only if it has engaged and active student representatives. Maintaining student engagement has been a perennial issue in the past, and has been the cause of several ESG resets.
However, the ESG revitalization committee has put forth several ideas to support better student engagement. I spoke with several ESG revitalization committee members who indicated that they wanted to engage students more directly in conversion, rather than relying only upon posted media and subsequent feedback. Committee member Anahit Aharonyan also added that they would like to include an introduction to ESG as a part of freshman orientation.
As for the capabilities of ESG in the present and future, the possibilities are what we as students make them. According to the ESG revitalization committee, students have expressed skepticism about ESG’s ability to make changes to campus. However Meerab Rasheed, who is a member of the ESG revitalization committee commented “if students want change, then we need student support, and I feel like we need them to be involved with ESG directly….” Looking back upon the history of ESG, this is certainly true. ESG has been at its best when students have been vocal, passionate, and invested in community problem solving, something we should all keep in mind next time we want to make a positive change on campus.