Forum: Leading from the top

Believe me when I tell you that running for president of the Student Association is no easy task. You need to block and place posters on noticeable walls of the various campus buildings; you have to give speeches at least twice a night; and of course, you have to beg all of your friends to palmcard for you on election day. Once the ballots are counted, the posters are off the wall and the palmcarders have gone home, the real work begins.

People have a misconception that their student government does not do anything for them. Lesson number one, being a leader is often a thankless job. Students feel that their student leaders only care about their votes and not about them as actual human beings and students. These are views and opinions of the past.

The new SA executive leadership has been working tirelessly since their appointments in May to make sure that this year, the SA goes above and beyond expectations in everything we do. In the past few months we have been able to secure more funding for student groups and club sports, sponsor the best Welcome Back Barbecue ever, save students money with our online book exchange and host an outstanding Town Hall meeting. Currently, we are focusing on various dining services issues around campus, and during the next week we will bring HBO and Sports Illustrated to campus.

The SA is more than a training ground for future politicians; it is a place for real growth and development as an individual and as a leader. I have learned more about being a leader and building leadership skills – and, yes, there is a difference – in these past four months than I have learned during my entire life. SA leaders are able to meet with administrators to discuss their thoughts on University policy and to make recommendations on improvements. Our corporate relations team labors to bring great deals to all students. Becoming an active part of the SA teaches you how to communicate effectively and to work with people, who many times you do not agree with and sometimes you may not like. All of these experiences teach something that cannot be taught from a book or in a class: true leadership is only learned through experience.

The most important lesson that I have learned about leadership is how to listen. With that, I want you to know that my office is open to you anytime. I was elected to serve as your voice to various administrators and University officials, and I would really like your input. I cannot do my job without your opinions. True leaders realize that they often have to sacrifice their own personal opinions to listen to the concerns of others. Please do not hesitate to contact me, or just stop me on the street, with any issues or concerns or just to talk. The SA is here for you; it’s your student government, make it work for you.
-The writer is Student Association president.

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