This past Friday evening, I joined my fellow Student Government Association representatives for our first annual leadership retreat. Our guest speaker, State Rep. Bob Hagan, started the night with a bang, giving an impassioned speech about public service and the leaders inside each of us. He conveyed the importance of standing up for personal beliefs and having the courage to stand in the face of adversity, even when others are fleeing in the other direction. But he also reminded us of the merits in the act of following; it is just as important to recognize when we can learn from the experience and wisdom of more experienced elders as we start to form our own identities as leaders.
Energized by Rep. Hagan’s words, the representatives in attendance excitedly discussed the potential SGA has for putting his ideas into action at Youngstown State University, both within SGA and the student body at large. We have experienced a longstanding problem in the basic makeup of the university: as a commuter college, most students go to class and go home without investing their time in student organizations and campus events. These pursuits are what make the college experience truly worthwhile for the student, and they are what make a university truly strong and invested in the community. It is a difficult conundrum to address, but we hope that SGA can have some hand in developing a deeper passion for our school among the student body.
The last portion of the retreat was very fun and enjoyable, featuring interactive mixing sessions and team building activities. Most of us had only minimum or passing acquaintances with other members; we were practically strangers, which we recognized as a hindrance to the policy-making goals of SGA. How can you expect to work together when you know nothing about each other? A familiarity with personalities, passions, and politics will go a long way in finding common ground on which to build working relationships. I’d like to think that this end goal was well met by the conclusion of the event!