CMU hosts annual United Student Governance Conference

Mariana Bringas from Western Michigan talks about bulding a legacy during a breakout session, Saturday, Feb. 25, in the Education and Human Services Building.

Early Saturday morning, 15 public universities' student governments from across the state came  to Central Michigan University to collaborate, share ideas, discuss issues, network and exchange resources.

It was the 2023 State of Michigan United Student Governance Conference, an event dedicated to bringing together the student voice. 

The conference gave attendees the opportunity to learn and hear from students across the state as they share the work that their governing bodies have been working on to positively impact students and their campus environments. 

CMU Vice President of Student Affairs Reneé Watson thanked the student leaders for their hard work. 

“You are our powerful allies that remind us every day that the agenda needs to be student-centered and that the agenda always needs to be about students,” Watson said in the opening remarks.

She reminded the students that their work affects change in more than just academic spaces. 

"I commend you for coming together to share ideas and learn," Watson said. "You are doing so much: post-covid safety, security, dining, parking, student belonging, student access.

"The work that you are doing here today undoubtedly will positively affect your campuses."

CMU’s student body president Taylor Idema, gave time during the opening ceremony for discussion between school delegates to establish the purpose of the conference and to share ideas. In a written message to the delegation, she emphasized the importance of unity in the face of an uncertain future. 

"Today, we are not 15 separate bodies," she wrote, "but we are one unified group looking to create a better tomorrow for those who come after us. 

"As we work together today, I know that we will be inspired to grow alongside one another and that our respective desires to create change will be reignited." 

Over the course of the day, the student delegates split into breakout sessions with themes ranging from building a legacy to current legislative efforts.

Each session was presented by students from across the state and gave attendees the opportunity to learn, discuss and share their thoughts on other universities' recommendations on issues surrounding their campus environments, such as supporting queer student campus wide, work study and student wages and women in leadership. 

“It’s important to be able to hear what other schools are doing and to just kind of see what their student governments look like and (to) look at our own student government -- how do we compare, how do we fit in?" Idema said. "It's also important to just hear ideas from other student leaders at different schools across the state, to be able to work together and further agendas and ... to be able to make campus climates better across the state.

"There’s a lot of really cool things happening and there’s a lot of really cool ideas jumping around and so I think it's important to work together and to listen."