Many students have asked the question, “Will we have strong student leaders in the years to come?” This seemingly recurring topic leaves some upperclassmen and faculty to think the very same thing. Currently, within most of the organizations that fit under the African American Student Advisory Counsel (AASAC) umbrella, you notice the same faces at executive board meetings, facilitating general body discussions, and volunteering at the organizations’ programs. These practices give the impression that underclassmen may not take a genuine interest in the student groups that have held the black population together for over 50 years now. Think about it; Are the true leaders of the minority population graduating and leaving these organizations with a lack of determined leaders, who seek to expand and continue the ideals of the specific organization? I would think that with the prominent leaders being easily identifiable, students who want to hold student leadership positions would try to grow a working, mentoring relationship with a current campus leader to “learn the ropes” and become more knowledgeable about the position held by that student.
Now, I am not going to jump the gun per se and point the finger completely at the inactive or unmotivated underclassmen, but rather, ask a more in-depth question about the upperclassmen that do hold these prominent positions. Does the younger generation of students feel that they can inquire about these positions, and get positive and helpful feedback? I make no excuses for students who wish to implement leadership within this university and simply won’t, or those who actually are content with just the scholastic portion of college, the resources are there. Whether or not you are comfortable approaching student leaders, interested students can find most of these organizations keep an active record of their accomplishments, programming, and leadership on flyers, and within the reach of the adviser of each organization.
On the other hand, student leaders should make themselves readily available to future, potential students, because, after all, when one’s undergraduate experience is complete and their organization lives on, one should want the legacy of that organization to continue to grow and develop by continuing to change the campus dynamic, by increasing student awareness and abiding by the constitution and aims of that group. Leaders, I challenge you, the next time your group has a general body meeting or hosts a program, take notice of students who arrive early, volunteer with setup, and actively interact with the E-Board and other students during the function; these are great signs of ways to identify future leaders. Student leaders’jobs reach beyond what is written in the responsibilities summary within the organization’s preamble; they must actively seek out these students and act as a village in training them to be more productive within the group, ask for volunteers when a program is lacking support, and most of all, make them want to be student leaders by exemplifying the utmost of professional behavior within the organizations infrastructure and during social events outside of the organization. Nobody wants to approach people who turn off the leadership light switch after the meetings are over, and they feel their duties have been fulfilled; but as general students and leaders, someone is always watching and if they don’t like what they see, they are less interested in asking questions, showing interest, and much less, leadership.
Overall, a change in roles needs to be seen and soon! Upperclassmen are often very pushed for time: standardized test for furthering education, deadlines for applying to graduate schools, and all the while, mapping out life after undergraduate school. So, underclassmen help is definitely needed, and underclassmen are adults, just like upperclassmen; they are just a little more inexperienced within the framework of college and unfamiliar with how important their years in college actually are. In most cases, the behavior that you set forth in college will remain the trend with how productive and successful your life will be after this experience is over, and for some it will be bittersweet. According to Briankim.com, in the article, “The top 10 reasons college students can’t find jobs,” the number three reason is because of a lack in people skills or leadership abilities; this statement qualifies fourth in their article, “The top 10 career strategies for freshman and sophomores.” Companies view these activities as vital ways in which to “add value” to their organizations. If they feel their company can truly become more reputable with you on their payroll, they are more likely to offer you employment with their organization. I urge everyone to think twice about the behaviors they are currently demonstrating and ask yourself a few daily key questions, to evaluate the effectiveness of your leadership or lack thereof:
Have I “added value” to NC State?
Are my behaviors indicative of a true student leader?
Is inactivity a real option?
Who am I truly servicing with my leadership?
Why am I a leader; is it for resume building or personal growth and development?
None of these questions are meant to offend anyone, but rather, relay a message about the quality and potential assets that you as a student can bring to the campus. One thing we all have in common is our student status; this should lay the foundation for a great working relationship because we can all identify with the stresses of being full-time students. Encourage others to step into positions that best suit their strengths.