You may have seen him around campus, but then again that could have been his twin brother.
Aven Bittinger, Student Government Association President, has been appointed to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Board of Governors by Gov. Tom Wolf to advocate for the interests of his fellow students in the real world.
Bittinger, a 21-year-old senior political science major with a minor in history who hails from Parker, Pennsylvania, is all about advocacy. Initially a Resident Assistant (RA) in Naugle Hall on campus, Bittinger eventually made his way to Shippensburg University’s Student Government Association (SGA) to fill in for the RHA senator who had resigned.
Bittinger later ran for SGA President, but initially lost. His hopes for SGA presidency were reignited, however, when Makayla Glass, his opponent who won the election, resigned from the position and voting re-opened. Bittinger won the second vote.
On top of being in SGA, Bittinger is an RA in McClean Hall this year. In the past, he has been a member of ShipVotes, the SU College Democrats and the Disciplinary Board.
“Shippensburg University’s Student Government Association was built on the idea of being advocators for the students on campus and it’s something I think we all pride ourselves on being a part of,” Bittinger said.
While president of SGA, Bittinger wants to accomplish a few personal goals. He wants to help SGA redefine the “why” of existing.
“I think you see a lot of senators run for office for different reasons. One of the goals for if I won the election was to sit everyone down and talk about why we’re all here and help become more unified,” Bittinger said.
One of the major issues Bittinger sees on campus is intentionality. He wants to make sure everyone is being intentional with what they’re doing, whether its advocating for students or even paying bills.
“Is this the best practice? Is this the best job we can be doing?” he asked.
The General Assembly of Pennsylvania will confirm Bittinger as a member of the PASSHE Board of Governors this fall, in either September or October. As a member of the board, it is his duty to advocate for the perspective of students to individuals creating policy that affects the schools in the state system. He also receives a vote to help speak for the students.
Bittinger is not alone on campus. He is accompanied by his identical twin brother, Jaren, who is a community coordinator for resident life on campus.
“He [Jaren is] my rock, if you will — my support system on campus,” Bittinger said. “He’s truly a fantastic individual.”
Bittinger prides himself on his value for advocacy, service and intentionality. He wants to give a voice to all students, and encourages them to come to SGA meetings to bring up issues from around campus.
“The precedent I have set for myself has always been, ‘How can I give back to whatever organization or affiliation I am apart of at that time?’”
In what little free time Bittinger admitted he has, he likes to read books and play video games.
He is also studying for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) to pursue graduate school.
“Get involved on campus. There’s a lot of changes on campus right now, but I think they’re all good changes. And the more people who are involved, the more people who give their feedback, will be able to leave campus whenever they graduated and say ‘I helped create xyz. I helped give my voice and I helped create this change.’”
Bittinger has a final message for his fellow students:
“If I can only pass on one message, it would be to understand the resources available to them. Those that need help don’t ask for it. If someone needs help, if someone has an issue they need to address, students should be empowered to speak that truth. To speak that message out. It’s also about finding the right avenues to do that. If you need help with your classes, the first person you should talk to is a professor, or an RA, or if you have an issue with something on campus that can be changed that you think needs to be advocated for, you can come to SGA, or The Slate, or whichever organization someone deems important.”