The idea of opening the student development offices for open houses finally came to fruition on Monday when student leaders visited more unfamiliar settings in an attempt to encourage campus unity.
Since the 2014 fall semester, Student Leadership Forum has formally brought student leaders together from offices around campus. Representatives from the Office of Multicultural Development, Office of Christian Outreach, Student Activities Office, International Student Program and Chaplain’s Office met together on Sept. 20 at the Harbor House to discuss how to better unify the campus and its leadership groups.
Student Body President Grace Pyo and Vice President Wyatt Harms initially promised the attempt to unify student leadership on campus as part of their campaign.
Assistant Director of Student Involvement Ted Cockle said that while students of differing offices often intermingle on a more relational level, “Grace and Wyatt have done a great job bringing them together on a formal level. The staff works together in this way all the time, and it’s good to have students work together too.”
The purpose of SLF, according to Harms, is partially to address issues of oppression and bring further reconciliation to campus.
“Systematic oppression is something that affects our school very deeply,” Harms said. The forum has been a way to identify overlapping causes between student development offices and bring greater endorsement to events. It is interested in working toward a unified vision for the school. Harms expressed that often only a subgroup of students are committed to engaging in dialogue about issues of oppression.
“Unfortunately the dialogues seem to attract a certain sect of students, not the whole of the student body,” said Harms. “What is the point of education if it isn’t changing the way that you live?”
The open houses, which took place this week, were birthed from an idea broached at the first student leadership forum, and refined at the next meeting of the forum that took place in November.
President of the William Osborne Society junior Iskar Smith, helped envision SLF and organize the open houses that took place in the OMD, SAO and OCO. Smith said that for the OMD, there was a flow of people coming in during the allotted time.
He shared that the purpose of the event was to ensure cooperation and kinship among different groups and offices on campus. “There’s an awkwardness of going into other offices unless there is a pretext,” Smith said. “We wanted to say that there is no pretext needed.” The purpose was to encourage all students to come through each office regularly, rather than staying in the places where they are comfortable.
Office of Multicultural Development Director Rodney Sisco commented that the open houses were “really a sharp way of doing it. The students were asking the question, ‘how can I get excited about the fellowship we have together?’”
“Our campus benefits when student groups collaborate with each other,” the SLF set of objectives reads. It is the hope of the forum’s members that collaboration will continue.