Saumya is an executive member of her university’s Associated Students Inc. One of her most important duties on student government is to appoint 45 students as representatives on a variety of university committees. These students serve as the undergraduate voice in serious discussions of university policy, resources, and current affairs. It’s a very important job, and Saumya wants to make sure the people she appoints will be the best representatives possible.
Saumya sent out an email to the student body, inviting applications, and was thrilled that she received enough responses from qualified applicants to fill all 45 committee positions. Saumya began with the list of committees, and assigned the most qualified candidates to the positions where they fit best. As she neared the end of the list, Saumya realized the remaining candidates didn’t fit well with the remaining committees. The IT Services Committee prefers a student well versed in technology. The Student Affairs Committee requests one student leader from each college, and Saumya still needs one representative from engineering. The Academic Affairs Committee prefers a student with relatively in depth knowledge of academic policies and the campus culture. While none of these requests are stringent requirements, Saumya would prefer to accommodate the preferences of the committees.
The remaining candidates are good applicants, but Saumya is unsure they will be able to provide the insight needed on the specific committees. Saumya has several friends that she knows are qualified and would be a perfect fit on each committee. None of them applied for the positions, but she knows that if she presented the idea, each would be happy to fill out an application and participate. Sauyma feels torn. She doesn’t want to dismiss students who actively sought out participation, but she feels her friends are the best fit.
What would you do in Sauyma’s situation? How do you weigh the desire to participate against other qualifications? What role, if any, does recruiting from friend networks play in your student government?