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University Archives and History

Student Government Association, 1910-2012

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About the SGA

The first instances of student government at the State Normal and Industrial School (now UNC Greensboro) began in the 1890s when individual students, called marshals, were selected from the two literary societies along with one chief marshal. They were responsible for enforcing school regulations as well as representing the students in dealing with the administration whenever matters arose that could not be handled in chapel or mass meetings. However, as the students learned more about students' growing interest in self-government around the country, there arose an increasing demand for this type of representation at the school.


In 1910, a student council was created to act as an advisory group for student issues and was comprised of three elected officials from each class. In 1914, school President Julius Foust agreed to the students’ proposal and officially allowed for the creation of the self-government association. This new organization, consisting of four elected officers (president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer) and the elected dormitory presidents, was closely watched by Foust and other administrators who were skeptical of the student government's efforts. Led by student Gladys Avery, the first elected president of the organization, the Self-Government Association assumed many of the original duties of the marshals including enforcing regulations and acting as a liaison to the administration on student issues.


In 1921, the Self-Government Association was renamed the Student Government Association (SGA) along with a complete revision of the rules and regulations of the organization. The new organization included the original elected officers as well as a senate made up of the dormitory presidents and a house of representatives comprised of elected students. In 1930, the SGA would add a legislative, executive, and judicial branch to help further regulate the student body.


Over the next several decades, the SGA grew to a respected and active organization on campus. Through its use of the judicial system and an honor policy, the SGA created a student body built upon academic integrity. The SGA presidents were well known and highly regarded by school administrators, often serving in the Chancellor's Administrative Council or Cabinet. With the integration of males on to the UNCG campus in 1964, the make-up of the SGA shifted dramatically as men began taking a more dominant role within the organization serving as presidents and other elected officials. After the desegregation of the campus in 1956, African Americans slowly began to take an active role in the SGA process with the election of Donna Benson as attorney general in 1975 and Ralph Wilkerson as SGA president in 1978.


By the late 1970s, the strong student support of the SGA seen during the early years turned to apathy and only about 10 percent of the student population voted in the 1978 and 1979 SGA president elections. Such indifference by the students toward SGA would continue during the 1980s and into the 1990s.

About the Collection

This collection contains the official records of the Student Government Association at UNC Greensboro. They reflect the various activities of the group.
Series 2: Meeting Minutes, 1940-2009 is currently the only portion of the collection that has been digitized. These records contain minutes of the meetings of the executive cabinet, the general legislative student body, house presidents, and the entire student body.

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