By Sofia Reppucci, Contributing Writer
You see as many of you are excitingly counting down the days until we graduate and move on to what the world calls bigger and better things, reluctantly I have started a countdown as well. I felt that with the last month I have left it was time to truly address the elephant in the room, or at least one of many.
A lot has shaped me into the “student leader” that I am today. Being a student leader was difficult, well worth it, but very difficult and that’s what they don’t tell you.
Here’s what my experiences at UMass Dartmouth taught me about being a student leader. To start, you are doing everything right until you offer feedback.
Very few people are open to listening to what you say and the perspective that you offer.
Whether that was because of my gender, age, or simply for the fact that they didn’t want to acknowledge the topic, of course this would be case by case. At times, individuals will make you feel like something is WRONG with who you are, the approach you took, or how you represent yourself as a “student leader”. Instead of apologizing and acknowledging what the issues were I saw it was easier to blame the student.
I recommend you take the personal feedback with a grain of salt, what was wrong with you, is more of an opinion than anything.
The same people that were offering a helping hand were the ones that had no problem pushing me down. One of my favorite terms I learned in college was enemies of progress (EOP); lit is still pretty high on the list.
I have found a lot of EOPs, as much as you’d love them to only be administrators they exist in your organizations and friend circles. Those last two are the hardest to comprehend.
If you don’t know what the term means you will have to figure it out on your own. Another great term is processing which actually just means this is bullshit; let me sort my thoughts so you don’t get my immediate response. I started using this a lot senior year, it is a good tool in a meeting, no one can ever argue with you processing, and I students to utilize this. Come prepared to these meetings bring the facts, this is what they can’t dispute but don’t want you to know.
There are people that were your support and sometimes they were hard to see.
Maybe they grabbed coffee with you, pointed you in the next direction, hugged you even though it was out of their comfort zone, listened to rant about one of the many issues you were having, always had an open office door, they helped with anything even when they were busy, grabbed ice cream with you on the bad days, listened while you practiced speeches, spent hours at res talking, had daily gym sessions to catch each other up, stayed up late at night to talk, picked up your 4 a.m. calls, they read emails and documents before you sent them, showed you what the reality was, offered assistance during the busy moments of life, and maybe even overcame some rocky storms with you.
These people that played the support role may not be there every step of the way but they were when you needed them and that’s what counts.
DESPITE it at all you can make change and start a wave in the ocean. Obviously, some of what I learned is sarcastic and not what you should take away.
We are so quick so tell someone what they should do as a student leader, but little concern is ever about being an ACTUAL student, which should always come first.
So, shout out to students that are so busy they have mastered eating in under 5 minutes to scarf down the food after waiting in that jam packed LARTS line.
To the thought provoking students that get mistaken for “silent” because they choose when is an appropriate time to express their thoughts. To the those who are constantly fighting on behalf of the students to whatever lengths they deem fitting.
To the ones that don’t kiss a** to receive special treatment. To students that have truly managed and challenged the what term time management means. To every type of student in-between that believes in better themselves and this institution.
Let me disclose the following for those of you as an administrator that probably still won’t understand why I choose to publish this; you are probably in the wrong field.
I tried to stay away from getting too personal because I still am processing… But I will say this. Student leaders I challenge you. Stand up for you believe in, whether this is standing together or alone make sure you do what you believe is right. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are.
Remember people are watching to see what you will do. You won’t disappoint these people if you are true to yourself. There is no one type of leader, don’t fall into their mold. To my haters feel free to email me, your feedback is noted but may get lost through the outlook switch.
To be continued…