Organizations foster chaos, not potential with student leaders
Before you happily begin to follow up with groups you met at Get on Board Day, think carefully about the organizations with whom you become involved. More often than not, the well-intentioned programs run and established by students miss the mark when it comes to leadership, efficiency and vision.
Students should become learners who pursue their goals and knowledge with self-determination. They need to take ownership of their own academic and professional lives; however, we should not entirely relinquish the reigns of leadership to them during their time here on campus.
Student organizations are often left in the hands of incredibly inefficient leaders with no real experience developing plans, holding meetings or delegating tasks. Others are led by those who are passionate but on the short side of intelligent and responsible. Finally, we have the worst: those led by the corrupt and manipulative.
Consider case one: the inefficient. Take the Coordinating Council for Student Honor Societies and The SOURCE Board of Governors. How many students even know that that CCSHS exists? Many of their candidates happen into the application process because they were acquainted with a professor or a friend referred them. The website is outdated and information is sparse. Moreover, many of these societies are merely resume clippings with little meaning. Similarly, how many student organization leaders actually know what the SBG does? The SOURCE has an up-to-date website, but few students are aware of the resources available to them through the office.
Both of these organizations are responsible for coordinating the vast number of student organizations and honor societies on campus. Both do a relatively poor job of communicating purpose and demonstrating dedication. What if these organizations had full-time graduate assistants that helped them coordinate activities? We might notice an appreciable difference in the information student organizations have at their disposal.
Still, there are worse sins than inefficiency, such as the embarrassingly ignorant. Uninformed groups such as the Bama Students for Life, who create high-profile disasters for an entire campus, should be monitored. They require advisors who can teach them judicious principles and a voice of reason that can craft savvy, and not horridly offensive, goals. Good intentions cannot cure stupidity; the only remedy for such a problem is strong guidance.
Accordingly, this leads to our worst case scenario: the morally bankrupt. For this, we need not look any further than our SGA. The First Year Council is stacked by students from the same organizations who later become senators who later become vice presidents and presidents. It’s a neat political lineage based upon certain social factors that exclude 70 percent of campus. I fail to see why the reigns were not taken long ago. The fact that they are in no way representative of the general campus body should attract significant notice. However, there is a direct correlation between our SGA and our state government. Nepotism, inefficiency and lies guide their behavior and policy.
Before you follow up with the array of student organizations you met at Get on Board Day, be sure to ask what they do and why they do it. Do your research. You will find that many of these organizations lack meaning, direction and diversity in thought.
John Speer is a graduate student in secondary education. His column runs weekly.