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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Intercontinental collaboration

The+2018+COSGA+conference+was+held+in+Houston+with+students+from+all+over+the+country%2C+and+globe%2C+in+attendance.
Photo by courtesy

The 2018 COSGA conference was held in Houston with students from all over the country, and globe, in attendance.

Members of the Texas A&M Student Government Association are exchanging ideas and networking with students around the globe to better the future of the university.
This weekend, A&M hosted the 37th annual Conference on Student Government Associations (COSGA) in Houston. The goal of the conference is for student leaders to learn from other leaders worldwide. Events include roundtables, workshops and keynote speakers.
Bobby Brooks, A&M Student Body President and economics senior, got a head start on the networking exchange Thursday when he met with Emily Rees, education officer of Swansea University, located in Wales, United Kingdom. The two leaders toured A&M’s campus and discussed student government structure, engagement initiatives and campus traditions.
Engagement with other student leaders is important because it encourages new ideas and instills a sense of pride in the university, according to Brooks.
“Whenever I get to meet with a student leader that’s seven hours away, or whose university is on another continent, I get to be reaffirmed in some of the principles of how our students are just going to end up [making a difference in] every single place, but also I get to learn new things about what makes us special,” Brooks said. “It’s a really cool thing, because I end up appreciating Texas A&M a lot more and I realize that I am so proud. Being able to interact with other student leaders just really teaches you to be proud and to understand the glory of what you have going on.”
As Brooks and Rees talked, they acknowledged the many contrasting elements between their universities. Among them are the 50,000 difference in student enrollment, attitudes toward student athletes and the fact that Swansea allows Rees to take a year off classes to focus on leadership.
“Whenever I get to talk with Emily and engage in those conversations about what it’s like at her university, my brain is already turning,” Brooks said. “It’s thinking about what strategies work, or maybe I am reminded that our traditions are something special, and of course, we can get more involved in the future.”
Rees said she appreciated the opportunity to discuss student leadership and found it beneficial to look at how another university works.
“I wish I did this at the start of the year, because this has made me learn so much,” Rees said. “We run so differently. I’ve definitely learned that we need a balance of structure and flexibility. I think it’s great that I came here and saw someone who runs completely different from us. This has been the best way to learn what I need to bring back.”
According to Dimitri Koufakis, COSGA director and accounting senior, discussing ideas with other leaders is useful for students who are creating new initiatives.
“I think a lot of it boils down to learning from other people’s failures,” Koufakis said. “Occasionally, we have workshops that talk about programs that people started or tried to start, and they’ll talk about the pitfalls and difficulties of doing that. So when another school begins to implement those things, they learn about how to do it.”
In addition to policy benefits, Koufakis said COSGA gives leaders a unique opportunity to learn about other cultures.
“For me, talking to schools from the Middle East, Eastern Europe or even other places in the United States is crazy because they don’t have much similarity and background with me,” Koufakis said. “I enjoy trying to understand different walks of life and things like that.”
This is the first year COSGA has been hosted in Houston. The last 36 conferences were held in College Station. Koufakis said the new venue made the event more accessible to out-of-state attendees and allowed them to concentrate more on the conference, rather than the A&M campus.
“I feel like when people come to COSGA, they’re coming to meet other universities,” Koufakis said. “It’s not supposed to be a show off of Texas A&M. This gives it a more neutral feel and makes it a level playing field for all universities here.”
Brooks said the conference helps Aggies see what makes being a leader at A&M so valuable.
“Whenever you get to meet with other student leaders, it reminds you why you’re so proud to be at A&M and why you’re proud to represent A&M,” Brooks said. “Honestly, it’s really fun to show up to an event being A&M because everyone knows you and knows you have your stuff together.”

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