Bridging the gap through bonds with other schools

KellyOpinion1How we can learn from the lessons other schools bring to the table

The time elapsed at Concordia seems almost instantaneous as we earn credits and near our degrees. Outside our studies, our involvement reflects our interests. We do our best as students to become fully engaged and active in raising awareness while creating change on campus through events, service and dialogue. Through all the blood, sweat and tears, our leadership and efforts are not in vain. However, in order to create more uniform and well-developed change, a call to collaborate with other schools or organizations needs to be established.

It is okay to research the ways other colleges and universities approach and try to solve problems on campus. If anything it allows you a model to at least start a project or idea. Keep in mind that every institution is structured differently and may not be a good framework by which to format your action. Some schools are bottom-up, in which students are the main enforcers of change, while others are top-down, in which administrations take charge mainly through funding to implement change.

Change, however, is not implemented quickly. It does take patience and prolonged persistence, as some processing along the way is dragged out and difficult. This, however, is where other schools can come into play. When collaborating with other institutions or organizations it is important to ask where their roadblocks were and how they overcame them.  In my experience, at least, I have found that the frustrations are often common and that it is not just Concordia that struggles to implement change. As a liberal arts college, students often get to be the foundation and livelihood behind grassroots movements, which allows hands-on learning in developing student leadership.

This past weekend I attended the fifth  Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability. Speakers from various environmental nonprofits spoke, and a diverse spectrum of institutions were represented. Each presented on their efforts of trying to make their campuses or communities more sustainable, and all of them sounded surprisingly similar. It was, however, interesting to see other students actively pursuing change on their campuses and to realize that the bumps we face at Concordia occur at other institutions too. Being around like-minded individuals is nice, and I admittedly made a ton of new connections; but I wish this dialogue between colleges was more frequent and effective, perhaps via online forums, trips, and so forth.

Visiting another campus made me reflect largely on the one I call home. A little biased, of course, I have realized Concordia is not that bad of a place. There are numerous opportunities for student leadership, and the college truly encourages student grassroots movements. Students are involved and really care about the college’s involvement in various avenues of interests. See, if we never tried, nothing would ever change. We go along and assume someone else will take charge when in reality it is each individual’s responsibility to realize the issue at hand and address it productively.  It is important to network and make connections, but remember not to just limit those to the campus or the F-M community. Close the gap between schools and work diligently to help foster a revolution of change together.

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