This column is targeted specifically toward collegiate a cappella groups, though some of the principles and ideas we discuss may transcend that sphere and be useful to high school and non-scholastic groups as well.
In this edition of Campus Connections, our focus is on: student government.
As a college undergrad, I was the editor of the campus newspaper. Early in my tenure, our humble publication had a tenuous relationship with student government. The governing board was perceived as arbitrary and controlling—compelling our organization’s leadership to attend meetings when we were already busy, and insisting on strict guidelines for how we spent the money we had generated via ad revenue.
In short, the people around me—and to be fair, I, myself—looked at student government as the enemy. In time, however, I came around to seeing the potential if we were a little less contentious and a little more collaborative.
I’ve heard from any number of college a cappella groups that resist officially affiliating themselves with school government out of a fear of losing control of what their group can do, taking on unnecessary extra obligations, or simply because they’re daunted by all of the paperwork associated with officially registering their group. To be fair, I can’t speak for the situation at every school, and I’m sure that working within student government is more onerous at some institutions than others. That said, in those cases when groups can align themselves with a larger governing body, there are often some very real benefits.
First and foremost, being an official school organization typically affords an a cappella group better access to resources. This may include funding via mandatory student activity fees, the ability to reserve rehearsal or performance spaces, and greater access to publicity opportunities (for example, some schools only allow registered student organizations to hang flyers in high profile locations around campus).
Working with student government may also open new performance opportunities. Student organizations put on events all the time, and you may be surprised how many would love to have live entertainment, but don’t know how to go about booking it, or don’t think they can afford it. Performing at other organizations’ events can be a great way of spreading awareness about your group, in addition to the potential for some modest extra income.
Finally, even if your a cappella group doesn’t see fit to officially connect with student government, it may find opportunities to still build relationships with student government so that your group’s name will still come up with people are looking for live performers. This may mean reaching out to government leadership to establish a relationship or even unofficially promoting student government campaigns and initiatives at your shows, in hopes that the government will return the favor when you need an extra hand.
Student government tends to have a significant amount of influence and access to resources on college campuses—a cappella groups that can find ways to connect and collaborate with governing bodies therefore have a great deal to gain from nurturing these relationships.