EMU Student Government was the brain child of former University President Charles McKenny. President McKenny wanted a council of students that could advise him on the Will of the Student Body. In 1913, President McKenny brought together the Student Body President and presidents of the largest student organizations, along with a handful of everyday students elected by the Student Body. Thus, the Student Council was born. Its mandate was to be the representative body of the Student Body to the administration.
The first committees of the Student Council became their own University departments and divisions. There was a committee for campus programming, a committee for the yearbook and other publications, and a committee for student concerns. Other committees would come and go, and the structure of the Council went from a mixture of organizational representation to elected council members. In 1950, the Student Council was radically changed with the addition of a student run court system which eventually became become Student Judicial Services.
With the addition of the Student Courts, there was now an executive board, a legislative representative body, and a judicial system. This was the birth of our modern Student Government. The Student Body President, a position that existed before the Student Council, now became the executive head of the organization. The Vice President became the leader of the Student Council. Justices were publicly elected and appointed to serve in the courts. From 1950 to the 1970’s, Student Government operated under the same Student Body Constitution.
The Student Body Constitution of the original Student Government not only set up the structure of Student Government but also guaranteed rights for the Student Body with the Student Acts, the Student Body’s first bill of rights. During the 1970’s, the structure was further changed, but unfortunately those Constitutions have been lost. Somewhere between the 1970’s and the early 1990’s the name of the Student Council was changed to better reflect the body’s role. The Student Council became the Student Senate and the Vice President was given the title of President of the Senate. The Student Senate has since become the name of the oldest and most active student representative body on campus. The Student Senate serves all students and is open to the same.
There were many constitutional changes between the 1970’s and the 2000’s. In 2001, Student Government went to the “federal model” of governing: two legislative bodies (at large elected Student Senate and the House of Representatives comprised of student organization delegates) that acted as checks on each other, with independent executive and judicial branches. Due to inefficiency and internal strife, the Student Body Constitution was rewritten to its present form.
During the long tenure of Student Government, the organization has helped obtain buildings on campus (McKenny Hall, Halle Library, EMU Student Center, etc.); spoken out, protested, and rioted to make the University more transparent and better; helped the University in lobbying efforts; offered services to the Student Body (STI Testing, College Readership, scholarships, etc.); been the loudest voice for shared governance between the University and the Student Body; and has withstood the test of time to become leaders in representing the Student Body.