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New leaders here and everywhere

The Observer Staff | Friday, January 25, 2013

This is an important time for our country, our own newspaper and our campus as a whole. On Monday, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden publicly swore their oaths of office to begin their second term at the country’s helm. On Wednesday, The Observer announced the election of a new Editor-in-Chief for the 2013-14 publication year. And today, petitions for student government executives are due, with elections to follow shortly.
The introduction of a new leader to any organization or community marks an important event. A new leader can signal a shift in policy to bring real change to the daily lives of that leader’s constituents. A new leader can introduce new ideas and creative problem-solving, and a new leader can build upon the best work of his or her predecessor. Accordingly, we must choose leaders with the work ethic, determination and moral fiber essential to positive leadership.
Notre Dame’s campus has no shortage of individuals with the aforementioned traits and then some. Our campus is full of students who have a history of leadership – in test scores and GPAs, on the playing field and at the front of student government. As belabored by our high school counselors, prestigious universities consider demonstrations of leadership just as they do our grades, and the Admissions Office at Notre Dame continues to garner the best of the best leaders from high schools around the country and the world.
We still see that tendency to lead among our students here at the University. We all know a person who forgoes sleep and a social life to save the whales, sit on three student government groups, captain an interhall team and run hall council. Plenty of students make a life out of going above and beyond – and for many of us, we have fallen into believing leaders have to be hyper-scheduled and unbelievably driven. And when we just expect a few individuals to shine above all the rest, we run the risk of becoming complacent.
With every social issue in the surrounding community, there is an opportunity to take initiative. With each on-campus problem that goes unnoticed or unaddressed, there are still more ways students can put their leadership skills to use without titles or nameplates. While the majority of us feel something between love for and obsession with this University, we can hardly call it perfect. In real life, we should strive to be leaders in our clubs, activities, majors and residence halls. We excelled to get to Notre Dame – and we should still excel here.
Most of us hope to one day be in leadership positions, whether it be in government, the corporate world, medicine, service or even as the heads of families. So why take a four-year sabbatical on the leadership qualities that got us to this University and that we hope to rely on down the road? We have many opportunities to lead here on campus and the upcoming election in student government is perhaps the most immediate. Student government does work on campus that is sometimes unseen and underappreciated, but its office can be a conduit for important projects by student leaders at Notre Dame.
There’s no question extraordinary leadership can have a huge impact at every level of society. There’s no question that each Notre Dame student – from a freshman thinking about joining student government to a senior about to step into the real world – has the capacity to be an extraordinary leader. There’s no question that Notre Dame offers chances to lead, whether that means reaching out to someone who is suffering or standing before the entire student body as a club leader. Let this week be a reminder that we have countless opportunities to be leaders on our campus and in our communities, right here and right now.