Florida State University Student Government Association Records
Scope and Contents
The Florida State University (FSU) Student Government Association Records document the actions taken by student government and university administrations. The records describe significant topics that have impacted students, such as accountability in higher education and the participation of student body presidents on the Florida Board of Regents and FSU Board of Trustees.
During processing, the records of each president and Student Senate session were removed from loose-leaf binders and placed in folders. The original volume numbers and titles were retained and recorded in the container list and on the folders. The content and internal order of each administration's files varies. The records may include agendas, budget materials, committee files, correspondence, memoranda, minutes, newspaper clippings, and reports.
Applications for student government positions, which contain confidential information such as Social Security Numbers, were removed. Social Security Numbers on student government appointment letters were obscured. Thermal paper facsimiles were photocopied for preservation.
- created: 1989-2005
- Other: Date acquired: 01/00/2005
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open to all researchers.
Conditions Governing Use
To request permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from the archives, please contact Heritage & University Archives, Florida State University Libraries, Tallahassee, Florida. Researchers must obtain separate permission from the copyright holders of material held within University Archives collections for which the institution does not hold copyright.
Biographical or Historical Information
Florida State University has a long history of student self-governance. In the spring of 1913, with the support of William Dodd, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and physics professor Elmer Smith, students presented Florida State College for Women (FSCW) President Edward Conradi with a unanimous request for self-government. The result was the college's first Student Government Association (SGA). Faculty nominated candidates for the offices of president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and president of each dormitory. After a school-wide election, officers served out the remainder of that semester.
When the SGA formally assumed its duties in 1913, students belonged to the organization by virtue of being enrolled at FSCW. The Executive Committee met at the behest of the college administration, at least once a week. President Conradi, Vice President Arthur Williams, Rowena Longmire, and Sarah Landrum Cawthon, Dean of the College Home, formed an advisory council that directed this committee in its consideration of policy and reviewed all actions before they became effective.
Over the next few years, the council closely supervised SGA officers, while the officers meted out punishment for minor transgressions. The Executive Committee disciplined students by restricting them to campus for up to four weeks for impertinence or flirting, for example. The Executive Committee's jurisdiction included students who lived off campus in houses rented for college use or with their families in Tallahassee, as well as students who lived in dormitories.
After World War I the SGA gradually shifted its focus from minor infractions to the overall quality of campus life. The Executive Committee assumed responsibility for seating assignments at meals and allowed students some choice in dining companions.
In the fall of 1925, the Conradi administration attempted to deal with overcrowded classrooms by holding Saturday classes. This caused resentment among students, many of whom disregarded the new schedules and skipped Saturday classes in protest. As a result, the administration decided to cut one quality point for each missed class and to count tardiness as an absence. This incident raised questions about the effectiveness of the SGA. Students questioned the value of an organization that could not successfully challenge the administration.
The Conradi administration took advantage of the resulting unrest to assume more supervisory control over activities. It reorganized student government, changing the description of the organization, but not the disciplinary intent. The SGA became the College Government Association (CGA). A Judiciary and a Student Senate replaced the Executive Committee. Other offices remained the same.
1935 Student Body President Katherine (Kitty) Blood Hoffman recalled that during the 1940s, all students were required to attend monthly meetings. Mart Pierson Hill, CGA President from 1941-42, remembered a heated meeting in which the University of Florida (UF) Student Body president addressed FSCW about a revised UF policy on dances and its impact on the student body. Tedy Parker King, Judiciary Chair from 1944-45, recalled handling cases of academic dishonesty, cheating, and an occasional alcohol violation. When men were admitted in 1946, student life and student government changed. Men quickly dominated the CGA, and the first campus political parties, the All-Florida Party and the Independent Party, were started.
After the creation of FSU in 1947, the CGA created a separate Men's Government Association (MGA) and Women's Government Association (WGA), headed by Phillip Roundtree and Dalia Santos Meza. In 1949 the CGA became the University Government Association (UGA) headed by separate presidential and vice presidential offices in the WGA and the MGA. This system continued until 1956, when a single presidency, supported by separate men's and women's vice presidencies was established. In 1965 the current system, one president and one vice president, was adopted. Men held the top office from 1956 until 1982 when Jill E. McConnell was elected Student Body President.
Student government grew rapidly during the 1960's. Vice President Joyce Killan Godwin recalled 1962 as a tumultuous year: "We were protesting the Cuban Missile Crisis and the drafting of college men." By 1963 UGA had established a student-owned bus system, revised women's social regulations, and merged the Men's and Women's Senates into one legislative body.
In 1974 Florida Governor Reuben Askew, the 1956 Student Body President, signed a law allowing student governments across the state to set and allocate Activities and Service fees. The second half of the decade saw FSU student government leaders taking an active role in voter registration. It is said that over 10,000 FSU students were registered to vote in 1975.
During the 1980s, student government worked to improve the quality of life at Florida State University. Significant accomplishments included a new bus system, the Seminole Express, and the SGA Movie Channel.
Tremendous growth at Florida State University during the 1980s and 1990s allowed the SGA to become more active in university and educational affairs at the state level. Executive officers attended conferences across the nation, a statewide student government Vice Presidents Council was formed, and student government presidents worked to end the oversight of the state Board of Regents. Quality of student life continued to be a priority as well. The SGA was instrumental in establishing a bike trail and emergency Blue Light phones, expanding and modernizing the student union, and constructing the Student Life Building. Minority student activism resulted in the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Bill, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. The SGA also took a pro-active approach to the AIDS epidemic, establishing education, counseling, and HIV testing for students.
By 2000, the Board of Regents was abolished by the State of Florida, giving student governments across Florida more autonomy. In 2001, the SGA successfully lobbied for the Student Body President to be a voting member of the newly created FSU Board of Trustees. The FSU SGA also established secure online voting for student government elections in 2000.
Student government has been an important force on the Florida State University campus. As the organization has grown and matured, its members and officers have addressed many problems and made significant improvements to the quality of education and student life at FSU. Today the SGA closely resembles the government of the State of Florida in its structure and functions: it is comprised of Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches. The majority of the records in this collection were created by, or directly pertain to, the executive branch.
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Language of Materials
The Florida State University Student Government Association (SGA) Records contain materials documenting the Student Government Association's activities. Materials include appointment records, memos, meeting minutes and agendas, invitations, and other records documenting the operations and activities of the association, its executive and legislative officers, student clubs, agencies, and committees.
The records are organized by academic year, August through July, beginning with 1989-1990. Records of the Student Government Association's Student Senate are organized by Student Session session, beginning with 1979-1980.
Method of Acquisition
Received from Robin Harrison, Program Assistant of the FSU Student Government Association in installments beginning in January 2005.
Documents from 1996-2002 were initially processed by Burt Altman in January and February 2005. Documents from 1989-2002 were processed from May-August 2006 by Rebecca Curtiss-Floyd.
- Florida State University. Student Government Association (Organization)
- Florida State University Student Government Association Records
- Burt Altman and Reba Curtiss-Floyd
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