Leaders from Temple Student Government are reaching out to their colleagues throughout the American Athletic Conference in an attempt to make Main Campus host to the first ever meeting between student government organizations in the newly-formed conference.
TSG sent out letters of interest to each of their equivalent organizations at the different American campuses, including three schools that will join the conference this year: Tulane University, East Carolina University and the University of Tulsa. Invitations were not offered to Rutgers University and the University of Louisville, since both schools will leave the conference this year.
The meeting is being coordinated between Temple administration and TSG and would be scheduled for April 11-12. Temple’s Student Body President Darin Bartholomew said TSG hopes to receive enough responses this week to finalize the meeting and begin finding speakers for the two-day event.
Bartholomew said Temple was not involved in student government cooperation while the university was a member of previous athletic conferences.
Temple was a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference for most of its sports from 1982 to 2013. The football team was a member of the former Big East Conference from 1991 to 2004 and the Mid-American Conference from 2007 to 2011.
Temple rejoined the Big East in 2012 for all sports, however that conference was split due to ongoing realignment, with Temple following the football members to The American.
After Gov. Tom Corbett proposed deep cuts to state-related institutions in 2011, TSG teamed up with student governments from the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania State University and Lincoln University to form the Pennsylvania Association of State-Related Students.
PASS failed to gain traction within its representative student bodies and was plagued by differences between the student governments. At a conference hosted on Main Campus in 2012, representatives from Penn State and Pitt dissented to continuing unified rallies for state-relateds in Harrisburg. Another PASS conference scheduled at Pitt in December was canceled, Bartholomew said.
Bartholomew, who was elected executive director of PASS at the 2012 conference, said he got the idea for an organization of student governments based around The American from the success of the Association of Big Ten Students as well as the Atlantic Coast Conference Student Body Presidents Conference, the latter of which held its first meeting at Pitt in the fall.
“When we looked at what we had in common with the other schools in Pennsylvania and with schools in the conference, I think we realized it’s a good thing we have The American,” Bartholomew said.
Athletics will not be the centerpiece of the scheduled meeting, Bartholomew said. Instead, discussions will focus on college affordability, state funding and plans for students entering the job market.
Seven of the 10 schools set to make up The American by the end of 2014 receive state support, with Tulsa, Southern Methodist and Tulane being the three private institutions. In addition, Bartholomew noted that the conference is made up of institutions largely centered in urban areas.
Bartholomew said he was waiting for responses from several schools, but remained hopeful that he would receive enough interest to move forward planning the conference.
John Moritz and Joe Gilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.