Student Senate hosts summit for student leaders

Photo+courtesy+Student+Senate

Photo courtesy Student Senate

“This night is about embracing what it means to be a leader,” said student body president Bill Warners as he opened last week’s Envisioning Greatness summit. The summit was the first event of its kind hosted by student senate, providing student leaders with the opportunity to come together and learn about what it means to be a leader.

Christian Rodriguez, vice president of representation for student senate, first came up with the idea for this event back in June, wanting to help students understand what is at the core of leadership.

So often, student leadership positions on campus have a lot of ambiguity around them, and students aren’t exactly sure what their role is. Warners acknowledged senate’s own struggle with this, as many of this year’s staff are new to student senate.

“One of the biggest pushes for this summit was realizing that no leader ever truly knows completely what leadership is in their own context,” said Warners. Student senate hopes to equip students to navigate their context in order to be better leaders.

During the summit, students participated in various breakout sessions centering on the core values of Student Senate: developing humility, encouraging collaboration, embracing inclusion, promoting relationship, cultivating courage and creating results. In sessions led by senators, students could learn about how senate embraces these values and how they can be beneficial to all student leaders.

The main portion of the summit was devoted to a town hall featuring President Le Roy, Chaplain Mary Hulst, Vice President of Student Life Sarah Visser, Dean of Students John Witte and Provost Cheryl Brandsen. Each panelist talked about their position at Calvin and addressed common misconceptions about their positions, opening up honest conversation about how they serve as leaders at Calvin.

The town hall panelists answered students’ questions about leadership practices, such as how to develop humility, how to deal with failure and how to continue to develop as a leader. They also covered issues specific to Calvin, like how the administration is continuing to address diversity issues.

“The panel was an excellent space to hear about the personal perspectives of leaders on campus. It’s important for people at Calvin to know why their leaders do what they’re doing, because then you appreciate their work more and the community we’re a part of,” said senior Joanna Bascom.

In the spirit of the event, one student asked the panel what they would include in their vision of greatness for Calvin College. President Le Roy said, “I would run into you as alums and you would be saying what the current alums say: ‘Calvin College helped me know how to live in this world, how to think in this world, be faithful in this world and to navigate all the challenges of this world.’”

Student senate hopes that events like this can allow students to hear from the administration in an open and transparent way. Student senate strives to not only be present in the community, but to also be present in the administration as a voice for the student body.