SGA elections are more important than you think

When was the last time you voted in a student government election?

I got the chance this past week to sit down with Sarah König—psychology, linguistics and philosophy student and head of ecology at AStA—to discuss AStA and other forms of student representation on campus.

AStA (Allgemeiner Studierendenausschuss or “General Students’ Committee”) consists of students appointed by members of the student parliament who are elected directly by the student body.

What struck me most about Sarah as she described AStA was how much she genuinely cared about the services they were providing to the students, even if there is little interest from the student body in on-campus politics (only 12 percent of students actually vote for student parliament). I could sense the pride in her voice as she talked about with what AStA was involved.

One of the best parts about living in Mainz is how easy it is to get around using public transportation. Every student at the University receives a semester ticket which allows for free travel on nearly all public transit systems within a one hundred-kilometer radius of the University.

I assumed this semester ticket was a function of the University, but this past week I learned it was actually one of the many benefits of being a part of a student body
represented by AStA.

Student self-government is mandatory in most German states under University laws; it’s a byproduct of post-WWII support for democratic efforts. Students are represented at the University of Mainz by AStA, student parliament, the students holding office with the University senate and the student representatives elected for each department of the University.

Along with providing the semester ticket by negotiating with the Deutsches Bahn (German public transit authority), AStA provides financial assistance to students in need, gives funding and publicity to other student organizations, hosts lectures on topics ranging from ecology to egalitarianism and a whole host of other valuable services delivered directly to the students.

Sarah said if she could change one thing at University of Mainz it would be to increase student involvement in student government.

“It’s important to participate and involved,” she said.

Cast your vote in your next SGA election at Georgia State. These elections, though seemingly unimportant, directly affect all students on campus and your future SGA representatives make crucial decisions on your behalf.