Thursday, October 1, 2009

The needs of the one...

Just got back from ASGA's National Student Government Summit in DC. It was the largest training conference we've ever produced, with 555 registrants from 101 institutions in 35 states. The entire ASGA staff and nearly all of our speakers participated. We think it was the best conference we've ever produced.

With this said, we did encounter a new situation there. One student told me that she was very uncomfortable being photographed. We always have a professional photographer and videographer capturing "moments" that we can then post at the conference web site. Potential future attendees then can learn what it's really like to come to the conference.

I personally don't think it's a "big deal" to be photographed, and initially thought this student was overreacting. "Just deal with it," I was thinking to myself.

But then I reconsidered. Maybe she had something happen in her past that caused her to feel this way about photos. ASGA and I certainly need to be considerate of all of our attendees' concerns and opinions. We need to be listening and trying to serve them better.

When an SGA registers for one of our conferences, they agree on the form that all photos and video taken are ASGA's property and may be used for promotional purposes. But individual students rarely see this form, as an advisor or one officer signs up for the entire group.

I don't want to make the registration process take longer and be more complex. But I'm thinking that in the future, we may allow students who don't want to have their photo taken to put a red "sticker" on their conference name tags. This would alert our photographers that these students are "off limits" for photos.

ASGA's conferences serve thousands of students and advisors each year. We've now produced nearly 60 conferences in the past five years. While we've never had a complaint before about photos, we are taking this one student's concerns seriously. And we may change and improve policy because of it.

ASGA does serve the "masses," but we're also conscious about the needs of the one.