A very common question, and one we will try our best to answer (in the shortest number of words possible).
The Student Association was established “…in order to actively enrich and broaden the experience of the student community at HBS, both in and out of the classroom.”
Every MBA student is a member of the SA and each of us paid a $50 SA fee with our first year tuition bill. Virtually all SA officers are elected by individual sections (e.g., Section Presidents, Senators, and Education Representatives) or by the entire student body (e.g., SA Co-Presidents and Co-Treasurers).
So how does it try and accomplish its goal of making life better for students?
The SA works to enhance the student experience by promoting camaraderie via orientation, athletic, social, and Class Day activities; by representing student views and concerns to the faculty and administration; and by enhancing communication between the administration/faculty and the student body. Various committees of the SA are also involved with developing guidelines for clubs, recommending changes to academic and technology offerings, and providing representatives for Community Standards hearings. In addition, SA Ventures, a subsidiary of the SA, manages most student concessions (e.g., section fleeces, the Prospectus, HBS cleaners/laundry, club t-shirts, stationery), and as many of you know, the profits from these concessions help support other HBS student activities and events such as Class Day and TGIF.
If it sounds complicated, it is. Remember the 14 page powerpoint presentation we went through before we had section elections (copies available upon request)? That just scratches the surface. Altogether, the SA is made up of four student body officers (a president and a treasurer for each cohort), over 150 section officers (14 from each section), 15 or so committees, a Senate (comprised of all the Section Senators, as well as chairs of certain committees), and a student-managed business.
So now that you have some sense for what the SA is, you might be asking, “what has the SA done for me lately?”
When you ask most students about this, the most common response is that the SA sponsors or co-sponsors a variety of campus-wide social events. This is true but believe it or not, the SA does many other things as well.
One of the most significant of these “other things” is that we construct an agenda outlining initiatives the SA will work on in conjunction with the Faculty and Administration during the upcoming year. These issues include topics that range from academics to email, and are the ones you identified as important in the Student Issues Poll that was conducted this spring. More on that later, but for now rest assured that we are trying our best to work on these and other issues that impact students most.
Of course there is always more to be done, and if you feel something is being neglected, tell us! With your help we can undoubtedly improve upon what we already know will be an incredible HBS experience. Thanks for your help and we look forward to a great year!