History of BYUSA
For several years leading up to 1988, there had been an increasing interest throughout the university community in changing the structure and function of the Associated Students of Brigham Young University. The desire was to create an organization that was more consistent with the nature of the university and more relevant to the majority of students. Several committees of students, faculty, and administrators met during this period to gather ideas regarding both the mission and structure for the association. During the 1987-88 academic year, President Jeffrey R. Holland appointed the Restructuring Committee to synthesize the ideas that had been developed by more than five years of committee work and research into a formal charter which was adopted in March of 1988 by the student body, President Holland, and the BYU Board of Trustees.
Much of the restructuring committee’s thinking about this new organization’s purpose was influenced by a suggestion to establish a student “Gift Office” made in “An Exchange of Gifts,” a filmstrip narrated by Spencer W. Kimball. Since the Church provides more than 70% of the cost of a student’s education, each student should be encouraged to give a gift back to the university in exchange. The Restructuring Committee envisioned the BYU Student Service Association as being a gift office, providing and fostering opportunities for students to give back.
It was also the belief of the committee that the BYU Student Service Association’s unique mission would complement those of the university and of the Church. With its focus on service, cooperation, and leadership, the association would benefit from a level of cooperation and trust with the administration not possible between adversarial organizations.
The committee identified two equally important roles for the BYU Student Service Association: to serve and to advise. The trustees, the university leadership and the students themselves look to the student association to fill these critical functions. The structure created by the charter is designed to enable students to accomplish these two goals. As the committee discussed the ideas formalized in the charter, members continually reminded each other of several assumptions they had identified as fundamental premises in all their work. Stating these assumptions will help readers better understand the spirit and content of the charter that follows them:
- Since the formation of policy and governance of BYU rests ultimately with the BYU Board of Trustees, the BYU Student Service Association is not a legislative body. One of its primary purposes is to serve the students and the rest of the university community through service-based activities. These activities may take a variety of forms. For instance, organizing Homecoming or New Student Orientation events that provide students a means for social interaction and fellowshipping, sponsoring a symposium that will increase the students’ understanding of significant current events, or facilitating an international week that will broaden the campus community’s awareness of other cultures and encourage our international students to become involved in a variety of new opportunities. Clearly the foundational focus of this organization must be on service as opposed to an orientation on programming. Therefore, every program that is sponsored by the BYU Student Service Association should be justified by the value of its service to the university family.
- Because it is important to the university community to hear the students’ voices regarding policies and programs, one important way for students to serve in the campus community is through a Student Advisory Council. This council can become a major influence in the university as the students give reliable advice when issues are brought to the students for reliable input. Student influence through achieved respect is much more effective, as well as more appropriate in our environment, than threatening or intimidating struggles for power.
- The administration appropriates funds to the BYU Student Service Association with the expectation that involvement in the programs of the association will foster leadership, higher academic achievement, and the balanced development of participants in ways consistent with the university mission. The student association is an organization in the university that shares inn the charge to develop leaders for the future, in the home, in the community, and in the Church itself.
- The great majority of students at BYU are supportive of gospel ideals and university policies and procedures. They want to join with the Church and university leadership in building a great university. Therefore, a complex system of “checks and balances” is not necessary. Rather, a system that can be responsive to changing the needs of the campus community is sufficient.
To conclude, the following charter contains ideas that can change the basic nature of the student association and how we speak of it. But these changes may be more superficial than the substantive unless the campus community can focus its attention and direct its efforts toward service rather than more activity. If such a focusing and directing does occur, the Restructuring Committee believes the student body, as well as their other associates in the university community, will experience an invigorating renewal and a healthy unification with the gospel of Christ as its center as they identify “gifts” to give back to the university.
Brigham Young University Student Service Association Charter (version approved April 2, 2010)
The charter of the BYU Student Service Association states the association’s vision and mission, describes its structure, outlines guidelines for activities, and explains procedures for selecting officers and for instituting change.
The BYU Student Service Association obtains its charter and authority from the BYU Board of Trustees through the university administration, under whose governance and guidance, the association carries out its mission.
Vision and Mission
As a part of a BYU education, the Student Service Association’s vision is to be leaders centered on Jesus Christ, who contribute to the building of Zion communities which are united in heart and mind that there be no intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, or physically poor among us.
To attain this vision, our mission is to engage students in opportunities that cultivate:
- A Sense of Belonging: uniting people to each other and to a cause.
- Refined Skills and Talents: training, development and application of leadership and practical skills.
- Divine-Centered Leadership: developing highly capable leaders who desire, seek and do the will of the Lord.
- Meaningful Contributions: planning with a purpose, implementing and assessing a variety of meaningful contributions.
- Commitment to Future Service: reviewing key principles, reflecting on the experience and creating a vision for future service.
- A Spirit of Honor: inspiring and educating individual students to live with honor and develop ethical courage by abiding by the principles of the Honor Code.
The association recognizes that value-based service is a key process by which students may grow and develop. In keeping with the university’s mission to assist in “the balanced development of the total person,” the association is organized to focus on growth and development of students through their involvement. All programs and activities of the association exist to provide experiences for organizers and participants. In striving to fulfill its mission, the BYU Student Service Association will do the following:
- Contribute to the central role of the academic experience in the life of the student. The activities of the association will seek to enhance and support this important period of “intensive learning in a stimulating setting where commitment to excellence is expected.”
- Take an active educational role in support of the Church Educational System Honor Code and other standards of excellence.
- Take an active educational role in support of the university mission, by providing information, encouragement, and example concerning specific kinds of Christian service.
- Foster a great variety of kinds and amounts of service to the campus community, the local community, and the world. These will include a wide range of campus activities and programs.
- Provide opportunities for students to learn and practice principles of leadership as taught by Jesus Christ, by presenting them with alternatives and the need to make informed decisions, in an environment that is both challenging and supportive.
- Maintain a system whereby students may council directly with administrators and faculty regarding BYU community concerns and the means by which the mission of BYU and the association can be better fulfilled.
Guidelines for all Service Association Activities
- The service of the association will focus upon the following basic desires and needs:
- The desire for social interaction and the need to learn by associating with others through service.
- The desire and need all members of our campus community have to develop their potential and express their creative nature by improving the quality of life on the campus and throughout the world.
- The need to accept and love others and to be accepted and loved as Christ loves us, that is without any condition or limit because of gender, religion, wealth, appearance, beliefs, or abilities.
- Each activity must have a clear central purpose stated in terms of meeting the basic human desires and needs, as they are seen from the perspective of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the specific mission of the association.
- No funds appropriated by the university will be given directly to a charitable cause, but they can be used to assist student leaders in organizing charitable service according to the needs and wants that justify the activity to the university family.
- Because those involved in the activities of the association have other responsibilities especially to academic courses in the university, participants must devote no more than fifteen hours per week to the association. The association will decentralize its leadership and increase its participants however much is needed to make that possible.
- The association will encourage service that is voluntary and uncompensated. With the limitation to fifteen hours, participants and leaders will be able to spend time in employment outside of the association if they must. However, a few central leaders must bear a heavy, constant responsibility for the affairs of the association, even at the sacrifice of other needs and opportunities. The university therefore will develop leadership scholarship funds and other financial aid which can be used to defray part of the costs of some of the student leaders’ education, depending on the degree of unavoidably heavy commitment to the association and need.
Structure and Function
The presidency, which directs the association, is comprised of the President, the Executive Vice President and six Vice Presidents. Assisting the presidency is an organization of appointed Executive Directors, Program Directors, and volunteers.
The five main functions of the presidency are:
- To provide the association with vision and administration.
- To develop and teach organizational guidelines and procedures which assist the association in accomplishing its mission.
- To budget and monitor the association’s use of funds.
- To assure the continuity and integrity of the association by evaluating its activities, and developing future leadership.
- To determine the programs and activities which the association will provide during its administration.
The president directs the work of the presidency, meets with university administrators in an advisory function as needed and acts as the official student spokesperson at the university.
Executive Vice President
The executive vice president assists the president by coordinating the work of various vice presidents and completing other assigned tasks. As EVP, he or she will also oversee the budget and regularly attend Student Advisory Council meetings.
Six Vice Presidents
The Student Advisory Council Vice President chairs the council and is the spokesperson for the council in the presidency. As chair of the Student Advisory Council, this vice president sets the agenda for council meetings and reports the council’s recommendations through channels to appropriate university personnel. The Student Advisory Council Vice President organizes the members of the council and other students into committees, appointing chairpersons and assigning duties.
The Involvement Vice President takes a principal role in the active recruitment and placement of student volunteers within BYUSA while also connecting students with other meaningful involvement opportunities around campus.
The Communications Vice President is responsible for the general image, messaging and promotion of BYUSA to the student body. The Communications VP also maintains strong media relations with various campus entities.
The Activities Vice President oversees the planning and implementation of various campus-wide events for the association, such as Homecoming, Battle of the Bands, Fall Fest and concerts.
The Student Honor Vice President oversees the activities of the association designed to promote the Honor Code. The Student Honor VP develops presentations and programs that will educate and encourage all members of the campus community regarding ways they can live with integrity and honor.
The Clubs Vice President directs the chartering of campus clubs and the training of club officers to ensure the success of the clubs and involvement of students.
Student Advisory Council
The Student Advisory Council, through cultivation and discussion of ideas, committee work, opinion surveys, and other means will gather the best thinking and opinions of students on a diversity of issues. After collecting this information, the advisory council will research, study and discuss until it arrives at recommendations or means of addressing important campus issues. These recommendations will be forwarded through channels to the university personnel who can benefit or take action. The role of the Student Advisory Council in the university parallels that of the Faculty and Administrative Advisory Councils. We should come to think of these students as “wise counselors and philosophical advisors” (Campus Memorandum, dated May 6, 1987, from Jeffrey R. Holland to newly elected members of the Faculty Advisory Council) to the University community. In addition, the Student Advisory Council will be organized into university and student committees as needed to respond to program initiatives from college councils and students at large.
Structure of the Student Advisory Council
To provide accessible “representation” to students, the Student Advisory Council consists of 41 members as follows:
- Twenty-six members elected by the college student councils or appointed by their deans according to the college guidelines.
- Twelve members, one from each of the following groups: Freshman Academy, Freshmen, Graduate Students, Honors Student Advisory Council, International Students, Multicultural Students, Non-Traditional Students, Residence Halls Association, ROTC, Students of Other Faiths, University Clubs Council, and the University Accessibility Center.
- Three members at large appointed by the Student Advisory Council Chair.
The general idea is to have two representatives from each college and one representative from the various interest groups. Should the number of colleges change, then, of course, the number of representatives in the SAC would change accordingly.
Selection of the Presidency
Election of President and Executive Vice President
- Basic Qualifications
Qualifications a, b and c must be maintained through the term of office.
- Good Honor Code Standing – Observance and support of the Church Educational System Honor Code, including its Dress and Grooming Standards. Candidates must have a current Ecclesiastical Endorsement.
- Good Academic Standing – Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00. Transfer students must have a cumulative BYU GPA of at least 3.00.
- Full-time Student Status – Enrollment as a current full-time (12 hours or more) student at BYU at the time of application and election.
- Service-Leadership Experience – Minimum of two semesters of BYU leadership experience prior to the elections. The two semesters of service-leadership cannot be obtained in one semester (i.e. serving as a SAC Rep and a club president). Candidates for President and Executive Vice President must each meet this requirement. The service-leadership requirements can be met in one of the two following ways.
- Option A – two semesters of BYUSA service. Two complete semesters of service leadership within BYUSA in providing over 40 hours of service (i.e. program director of major activity, club president, SAC representative, etc.)
- Option B – one semester of BYUSA service and one semester of BYU leadership experience. One complete semester of service-leadership within BYUSA in providing over 40 hours of service (i.e. program director of major activity, club president, SAC representative, etc.) and one full semester of service at BYU equivalent to or above the BYUSA required level. Qualifying positions are listed in the application.
- Candidate Requirements
- Application – by the established deadline, prepare and submit for publication an application detailing qualifications for BYUSA President or Executive Vice President.
- Training Seminar – complete a mandatory BYUSA Vision, Values and Goals Training Seminar. This seminar is presented by professional staff and includes essential training in the elements of the association. All candidates, regardless of prior service, must complete this seminar. Failure, for any reason, to complete the seminar will result in the candidate’s disqualification from the election.
- Candidate Question-and-Answer Forum – participation in the Student Advisory Council Question-and-Answer forum involving all candidates. The purpose of this forum is to help voters determine candidate preparation for the position as well as the perspective of candidates on various campus issues. The entire campus community will be invited to submit questions for this forum. Failure to participate in this forum will result in a candidate pair being disqualified from the election.
- Election Rules – adherence to the election rules as established and administered by the Elections Committee. The rules are designed to provide fairness, consistency, and credibility to the elections process. Failure to comply with the rules could disqualify a candidate pair from the election.
- Elections Committee
- Basic duties
- i. Collect completed applications
- Certify that each candidate pair meets the required qualifications
- Assist in reviewing the candidates’ campaign platforms
- Enhance awareness for voters to make informed choices by providing appropriate elections information to the media regarding the candidates and the mission, value, and goals of the association.
- Receive, review and investigate report of rule violations
- Determine and apply consequences of rule violations
- Committee Members and Organization
- Two SAC members selected by the SAC
- Two BYUSA officers selected by the BYUSA President (BYUSA President may occupy one seat; neither officer may be candidates for President or Executive Vice President)
- Student candidate of a previous election
- Student Honor Association member
- Two randomly selected students.
- Student Chair—the Director of Student Leadership will appoint a committee chair from one of the members listed above
- Department of Student Leadership professional assigned to supervise the election
- Director of Student Leadership is an ex-officio member
Appointments of Vice Presidents
After the election of the President and Executive Vice President and in consultation with Student Leadership professionals, the newly elected leaders will accept applications from interested candidates, conduct interviews, and make appointments to vice presidents for Campus Activities, Clubs, Communications, Involvement, Student Advisory Council and Student Honor. Those appointed must meet the qualifications and requirements listed in the application.
Changes in this Structure
It is anticipated that the philosophy and mission of the association will remain intact for a significant period. The precise nature of the structure which will implement this mission has been designed to accommodate needed change. Flexibility in altering that structure from year to year is a key component. Where the structure is related to the philosophy and mission enough as to constitute a substantive change (such as in the composition of the SAC or the selection of the president), proposals for such structural change would be submitted in writing to the Director of Student Leadership and may be subject to the review by the Dean of Students, other university administrators, the student body, and the BYU Board of Trustees. Even in these cases, the Restructuring Committee suggests that this process be accommodated through normal University Review Processes, rather than by cumbersome electoral regulations.
Philosophy of Change
Because we are imperfect persons in an imperfect world, thoughtful and deliberate change is necessary and welcome as it brings us closer to our desired outcomes. Since the BYU Student Service Association is an ecosystem and each individual part affects the whole, it is critical that any changes made to enhance the organization and its effectiveness in meeting its vision and mission. Furthermore, it is crucial that the organization have the resources and sustaining power to effect and maintain changes.
Process for Change
Step 1 - Written Proposal
Submit a thoughtful, written proposal to the Director of Student Leadership. The proposal must address the following 10 questions:
- What is the desired change? Be detailed and specific.
- What is currently being done and why?
- Why is it necessary to make a change? Provide thoughtful rationale.
- Why is the suggested change better than what is currently in place?
- How does this change bring the organization into better alignment with its vision and mission?
- How does this change improve service to students?
- Who will implement the proposed change?
- Who will have long-term stewardship for the proposed change?
- Realizing the heavy demands placed upon the association’s resources including the time of its officers, how would you rank the priority of this proposal on a scale of one to 10 with 10 being the most critical and why?
- What are the specific steps necessary to implement this change?