By the Editorial Board
Dear Student Leaders—
Do you ever feel frustrated? Do you ever feel like every force in the universe is smiling as it works against you? Do you ever feel so tired that you’re willing to close your eyes in the Tim’s line to get even 45 seconds of sleep before your fourth cup of coffee?
We’ve been there.
Student leaders face so many challenges every single day that others don’t even know about, and take totally for granted. Your average club member does not know the hours you spent emailing Chartwell’s representatives trying to get food for your next event. RAs, your residents have no idea how long it took you to design and put up that board on your floor, only to have it drawn on or ripped down. Being a student leader can be a trying and thankless job.
We’ve all had days where we thought about just giving it up, about stepping down, leaving it to someone else, and curling up in bed with some cocoa and Netflix for some relaxation. We’ve all had fantasies about a clear calendar. Some free time would be nice, wouldn’t it? It’s tempting…
We’re here to tell you: don’t give in to that temptation. In fact, resist it at all costs. Resist it with everything you have.
Student leaders are the heart of the Canisius community. Yes, all you meeting note-takers, club tablers, committee members, event planners, election hosters, office hour holders, recruitment managers, and word spreaders. We’re talking to everyone who has driven to an event off-campus to spend time with the four people who showed up, to anyone who has bought food or supplies for their group’s event with their own money, to anyone who has talked about their group’s event to anyone who would listen and didn’t get disheartened when most people didn’t – especially you.
Without leaders like you, the experience of hundreds of students would be diminished.
The truth of it is that being a student leader is not easy. It takes a special type of person to fight through the rampant apathy among the student masses and put in the work every single week – every day in some cases. This is something club leaders know, but many others don’t recognize, and we’re here to tell you we see you. Someone does notice all the hard work and effort you’ve put in to make sure that the things you do run smoothly, because at the end of the day, at the end of your events, you’re doing a huge service to our campus. It’s something not everyone can do, but you’ve stepped up and are making it work. Heck, look at you, you’re doing it!
We just want to remind you of all the successes you’ve had, because we know it’s a lot. Think back to your first days involved in your club. Maybe you were a teeny tiny freshman, scared to talk at meetings, but still having a blast every time an event was held. Maybe you only joined last year, coming to meetings for the free food but stayed because something in the club piqued your interest, made you feel like you belonged, and you made a commitment.
Remember that commitment. With two tests and a paper due the week of your biggest event, remember your commitment. When seven people show up to the event you spend as many weeks planning, remember your commitment. Be proud of your commitment, be proud of all the hours you’ve put into your group, because we know (and you do, too) that for every one of your less-than-successful events there are five past events that went so much better than you expected. Yeah, remember those events? That one event when you felt like you were a part of the best darn club on campus? Just remember that one event for a second. Feels good, right?
Now keep pushing for events like that. Keep that inspiration close to you when you feel so down and out that you question the dedication you feel to your club, the dedication to creating that feeling of belonging and community. Keep putting in all the hard work you do, even if you feel like you are the only one doing it, because the truth is people do notice. The people in your club, those teeny tiny freshmen who are having a great time, and even the kids just there for food – they notice. They see you rushing in 10 minutes late with a plate of Wegmans subs and your shoes untied, and you know what? They look up to you.
Those very same kids are going to be just like you one day: overwhelmed with school and group responsibilities, and feeling like they can’t hack it. And you know what they’re going to do? They’re going to think back to you, to your example and your dedication and your commitment. You remember your favorite club leader from along the way – the way they used to seem like they were just barely holding it together, but at the end of the event always wore the biggest smile, always had the most positive thing to say at every meeting, were always pushing for bigger and better stuff? That’s what you are to your members, and that’s important. That’s inspiration.
Student leaders hold this place together. You make things interesting, inclusive, and diverse, even if you don’t always see it. You inspire, you lead, and you innovate, and after all, aren’t those the skills you’re most going to need after you’ve graduated?
So keep pushing with your group. Keep planning events, keep ordering food, keep scheduling meetings, and keep making things happen. Most importantly, keep hanging out in your club rooms, and find ways to get other people in there. Find ways to attract people in from the tunnel hallways or up from the dining hall. Make your club as loud and populated and interesting as possible, and curious people will pop their heads in, we promise. When they do pop in, give them a reason to stay. Make them feel welcome.
Clubs are the closest thing to grassroots movements we have at Canisius, and for that reason alone they are hugely important. Despite everything – apathy, stress, low attendance, logistical obstacles – clubs are the things that keep students in the loop. You, student leaders, are the people who foster connections between everyone on campus, and that’s something you should be proud of.
Take some time to remind yourself each day that all this stress is worth something, that there is a point to all of it, and there is a goal to work towards: inclusion and activity. We know we’re preaching to the choir here, but keep recruiting people. Keep advertising your events and keep getting students involved. The more involvement on this campus, the more we can achieve. We know there’s a huge responsibility out there on you student leaders, sometimes seemingly insurmountable, but we also know that you are capable. We believe in you. We know that we can depend on you, and look up to you to inspire and include your group members and lead them towards whatever goal your group has in mind – and you can do it well.
We’re proud of you.