Inclusion and student leadership
Letter to the Editor | Monday, February 23, 2015
This coming weekend, we welcome 83 student leaders and advisers from the 15 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) institutions as part of the 2015 ACC Student Leadership Symposium. Unknown to many, the athletic conference we belong to includes education and leadership formation components as well.
As brand new members of the ACC, we attended last year’s symposium hosted at the University of Miami and were pleasantly surprised when the University of Notre Dame was selected six months later as the host for this year. With this honor comes the immense responsibility of continuing the tradition of helping form student leaders in issues of relevance at all our schools and connecting them with each other in order to create resource networks.
When the two of us sat down at South Dining Hall one day at dinner to begin discussing possible themes for the symposium, we realized we both had a similar passion for something that has been at the heart of many conversations, debates and sometimes controversy throughout our time at Notre Dame: the issue of inclusion. We wanted to create an environment in which student leaders who are as equally as passionate as we are could come together, share ideas and develop strategies that would work toward the common goal of ensuring that all students, regardless of their identities, feel welcomed and loved on all our college campuses. Therefore, our theme for the conference is “Inspiring Inclusion, Creating Community, Launching Leaders.”
As students, we hold unique positions in being able to identify the problems of concern that are sometimes hidden from administrators. We hear the conversations our peers have in the dining halls and dorms, we witness the love but sometimes the hate in academic and social settings and we relate because we too are going through the development and understanding of our own selves in the process. All of us have the duty to help care for all our brothers and sisters that form our student community on campus, and we hope that by the end of the symposium, the student delegations will have realized this through the workshops, lectures and other activities we have planned for them.
We are honored that our University has been given this opportunity to showcase both our ability to lead in areas of inclusion and our ability to learn where we still fail. There is so much we can discover from the shortcomings and successes of other student leaders, and we are ready to dialogue with them. We hope new ideas will sprout roots both among our own five-member delegation and our planning team committee.
We share all this with you all, the greater Notre Dame community, because we hope the goals of this symposium do not remain contained within only those able to attend it.
Our delegates will be flying in from throughout the country soon, and we expect our Notre Dame family will welcome them all with open arms. We also hope all students throughout our campuses become more willing to engage in these tough conversations on their own. Our dream is that dialogue like this becomes ingrained within our broader school culture.
Also, please keep your eyes and ears open to new programs that may follow up from this weekend’s event. In the meantime, we invite you to reflect on this question: How can we, as students, and you, as an individual, work toward making our University a more welcoming home for all?
Juan Rangel and Stephanie Klotter
2015 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Student Leadership Symposium
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.