It’s another most wonderful time of the year … for me anyways. A time of great joy, considerable angst, nerves, stress, excitement and accomplishment.
It’s time for student elections!
Call it an association or a union, students who participate in this level of student government have such a fantastic opportunity for development and an equally large opportunity for disappointment. There are grandiose plans for “what we’ll do differently this year”, coupled with an almost overzealous desire to downplay or outright ignore the work done by those before them. Often, what happened before no longer matters. The contributions of their predecessors aren’t celebrated, but rather leveraged as campaign promises, offering ‘change’ that will only cost you a few seconds at the ballot box.
As a former student union executive (SCSU VP Campus Life 2006-2007), I’ve seen first hand this conflicting and competing mindset. Every new executive wants to do better for the students, but wants to do it their way – the new way, the best way.
In a conversation with a new student society executive earlier this week where the same message appeared again. This student is already a superstar – bright, motivated and already doing great things as one of our student staff members. He seemed worried, however, that those working with and for him wouldn’t ‘buy into’ his plans, holding the same excitement he had for the year ahead. More importantly, he mused, what would happen to him when he was gone? Would the new society executives ignore his accomplishments in favour of their own goals?
In that moment, my own fears and anxieties as a new student union executive (a few) years ago came flooding back. This time around, I had the gift of hard earned lessons on my side.
Whether you’re a new member of a student union, starting your first day at a new job or even getting out of bed for another new day …
Make Your Project Your People
Your job, my job, our job is not to create the longest reports or the most successful event. Our projects should not be measured in the number of program attendees or what it says on our performance review. It is our people, not our papers, that will keep a legacy alive and push our shared goal for student success forward. It is the people that create the successes we celebrate and share in the challenges that frustrate us. Even an assessment fanatic like myself must recognize that there is nothing to assess without action, and there is no action without those working alongside us. In building our people, we build a legacy.
If you or your students are looking for a project this month, this summer or this year, make it your people.