Student Government Association records
Scope and Contents
This collection consists of documents generated by or about the Student Government Association (SGA) from its inception in 1921 to 2005. The documents reflect its responsibility to represent the student body to the school and community, coordinate events, and develop policies and procedures for self-regulation. The form and characteristic of the documents ranges from governing documents, minutes, and financial documents to ephemera and correspondence.
Topics of interest include: the roles and responsibilities of student leaders; women in student government; normal school student government; administrative structure of student government; absence and tardiness policy; honor code or system; student fees; resident student life; commuter student life; student activities; student organizations; organizational budgets; judicial or disciplinary jurisdiction of student government; history of higher education and teacher education; student athletics or club athletics; student government committees; effect of war on student life and education; students and curriculum development; student government relationships with administration and faculty; race or racism; student demonstrations; anti-war movements; civil rights movements; and education reform.
- Creation: 1921-2005
Conditions Governing Access
There are no restrictions on access. This collection is open to the public.
Conditions Governing Use
Towson University Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) is the owner of the original materials and digitized images in our collections; however, the collection may contain materials for which copyright is not held. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials. Consult with SCUA to determine if we can provide permission for use.
The Student Government Association at Towson University began officially in 1921, when the school was officially named the Maryland State Normal School (MSNS) and served as the teacher education school in the state of Maryland. Before 1921, seniors at MSNS had varying roles and duties, from passing out materials to leading class. Eventually a class structure with officers and committees developed.
In 1920-1921, Principal Lida Lee Tall encouraged a survey of schools that inspired the creation of a student government at MSNS. Notes from the class of 1922-1923 point to the influence of Bryn Mawr College, Smith College, and Winthrop College. Two documents were drawn up: the Agreement between the Faculty and Students of MSNS Concerning the Student Government Organization, and the Constitution of the Student Government Organization of the Maryland State Normal School. The jurisdiction of the organization included absence from classes, tardiness for classes, household management, use of school property and equipment, and permission for leaving campus. The first officers were Olivia J. Kerby, president; Elizabeth J. Lewis, vice-president; and Grace Tull, secretary.
The 1922 constitution created the Student Council: a president, vice-president, secretary-treasurer, and representatives from dorms and classes. The constitution disbanded committees and expanded upon elections, meetings, powers and duties. New by-laws gave students responsibility for fees, dispersing the constitution and mail, dorm and dining behavior, and discipline.
In 1925, after the introduction of commuting students from the Baltimore Teachers Training School, the administration split into a General Council, a Day Student Council, and a Boarding or Residence Student Council. The General Council managed student elections, held conduct to the honor system, developed policy, and represented students to faculty. The Day and Boarding or Residence Student Councils disciplined, took care of facilities, and planned events for their respective students. The tripartite government sometimes referred to itself as the Student’s Association for Cooperative Government.
In 1937-1938 the student government returned to a single unit, the Student Government Association (SGA), and focused on the quality of student life. Representatives from dorms, athletics, committees, classes, and elected council officers constituted the new Executive Council.
In the 1940s, the SGA passed resolutions in memory of students who died in war, held assemblies, and planned dances. They struggled with a lack of funds to hold spirited events, yet focused on reviving the spirit of pre-war days. In 1940-1941, a new charter gave the student council the power to act as a student government and established a separate constitution for the residence council; absorbed the Athletic Association as a separate body from the Department of Physical Education; added the Ways and Means, Publicity, and Records Committee; and began work on a judicial system. Students expressed interest in having a say in curriculum, and a curriculum committee formed to present student suggestions to administration. A new constitution passed in 1942 expanded the powers of the SGA.
A dearth in attendance, and likely the rise in State Teachers College enrollment, led to a 1952 proposal to change the Democratic system of government to a Representative system of government, with a Student Council representing the student vote. The Democratic system had functioned in the style of a town hall, with voting power from any student who attended; the Representative system gave voting power to elected officials. The proposal for a Representative system passed.
In 1952-1953, the SGA held its first Leadership Conference and with the encouragement of President Earle T. Hawkins, created a manual for student leaders. Discussion about the main areas of student responsibility ensued; the consensus seemed to focus on student activities and dormitory living, with suggestions for a judicial body. SGA also joined the National Students Association (NSA) after questioning the cost and the possible subversive nature of the organization.
By 1958, the Student Senate was added to the constitution to balance the power of the Executive Committee, and it gained jurisdiction over student organizations. Senate Committees included the Election, Judicial, Operations, Publicity, Social, and Finance committees. The SGA had a faculty adviser and an associate faculty adviser.
2 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
The Towson University Student Government Association formed in 1921 to manage student policies, procedures, and self-discipline. Since then, the organization has evolved to represent the student body to Towson University and the Maryland community; coordinate events that support the social and cultural development of students; and take disciplinary action when needed. Records of the Student Government Association include governing documents, minutes, financial documents, event ephemera, correspondence, photographs and microfiche. Topics of interest include college student government in the United States, student movements, students and civil rights, students and war, student etiquette, relationships with administration, and student activities.
The collection is arranged in 6 series, 1 of which contains sub-series. The physical arrangement of items within the collection depends on the method of acquisition and the preferences of the SGA administration, which changes at least yearly. In addition, many of the items had been acquired from other sources, including the Office of the President, University Relations, the Dean of Students, and other faculty, alumni, and departments. Original order has been maintained. Folder titles have been retained with the exception of dates, which sometimes included assumed or incorrect dates.
Many items are arranged chronologically; rarely are they in reverse chronological order. Sometimes materials have been collected by subject, and other materials are primarily organized by type of record. SGA documents from UA04240 were accreted to UA04220 in original order; the processor imposed folder titles.
Series 1: History, Constitution and Finances, 1921-2005 This series contains governing documents, minutes, policies, financial documents, election policy, and ephemera. Care should be taken with the early constitution book and loose leaves.
Series 2: Reports and Minutes, 1952-1992 This series includes reports and minutes of committees and the executive and legislative branches within the SGA. Reports and minutes may be supplemented by publications, annual reports, media releases, policies and procedures, resolutions, financial records, correspondence, and minutes from other committees.
Series 3: Committee Reports, 1961-1975 This series consists of correspondence, a media release, a newspaper clipping copy, regulations, a proposal, a questionairre, minutes, reports, and policy of the Social Committee, Financial Committee, Academic Reform Committee, and Publicity Committee.
Series 4: Presidents, 1972-1974 This series includes the files of SGA presidents Eric Danoff and Jesse G. Harris III. Each contains the welcome letter sent from the SGA president to the student body at the start of a school year.
Series 5: Events, 1955-1991
Subseries 1: Speaker Series, 1974-1991 Initially titled the Celebrity Speakers Series (1974-1977), the SGA Speaker Series invited nationally acclaimed individuals to speak at the school. The purpose was to provide students with an extracurricular educational event and to give the community an opportunity to hear noteworthy speakers at a more affordable cost. The series occurred every other year, then annually.
This sub-series includes programs, media releases, copies of newspaper mentions of the speaker series, correspondence, microfiche, and press kits received from the agencies representing the speakers that include biographies, resumes, media mentions, and headshots. Missing years include 1976-1977
Subseries 2: General Events, 1955-1962 This series includes three programs from the annual Sweetheart Dance in February, and programs, correspondence, and feedback from All College Day, a campus field trip for the whole Towson State College community and family.
Series 6: Miscellaneous Materials, 1927-1992 This series contains reports, correspondence, resolutions, policies, newspaper clipping copies, and event documentation. United College of Maryland documents include mentions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Governor Spiro Agnew, and the Challenger Space Craft.
- Alumni Association, State Teachers College. (1941). Seventy-Five Years of Teacher Education. Towson University, Special Collections at the Albert S. Cook Library.
- The Tower Light. (1926-1969) Towson University, Special Collections at the Albert S. Cook Library. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/towsonuniversity and http://library.towson.edu/
- Towerlight. (1969-) Towson University, Special Collections at the Albert S. Cook Library. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/towsonuniversity and http://library.towson.edu/
- The Oriole (1922-1926). Towson University, Special Collections at the Albert S. Cook Library. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/towsonuniversity and http://library.towson.edu/
Preservation measures were taken such as replacing rusted staples and paperclips with stainless steel and nylon-coated.
Series VI could use reprocesssed. "Miscellaneous/Other" are not appropriate series or folder titles and are of little use to the researcher or archivist. Transfer to ArchivesSpace took place during the COVID-19 pandemic and was performed off-site. Reprocessing of this series would make for a good student project.
- Guide to the Student Government Association records
- Created by Sarah Espinosa, revised and transferred to ArchivesSpace by John Esh
- October 2014, 2020
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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