Student Association

How a leadership conference at Clemson University influenced change in Syracuse University’s Student Association

Chase Guttman | Staff Photographer

The five Student Association members at the conference each took on a specific issue relating to college students, including sexual violence; gentrification; gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender access to resources; physical accessibility; and mental health.

Members of Syracuse University’s Student Association attended a leadership symposium at Clemson University the weekend of Feb. 27-28 to discuss activist issues, which resulted in a proposed change to SU’s bike-share program.

Each of the five SA members in attendance focused on a different, specific topic related to activism. SA President Aysha Seedat focused on sexual violence; SA Vice President Jane Hong focused on gentrification; and assembly members Peter Choi, Madeleine Fitzgerald and Valerie Alyssa Corona focused on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender access to resources, physical accessibility and mental health, respectively.

Hong said she was inspired by one of the keynote speakers at the symposium, who spoke of the importance of students engaging with the community around their college campuses, to propose an initiative to incentivize SA’s proposed bike-share program in order to promote student engagement in the city of Syracuse.

“It has yet to be finalized, but I would really like to create some sort of way … to really reward students for the community service that they’re doing and to create more incentives for them to use the bikes to get into the local community,” Hong said.

She added that one of the biggest benefits of attending the leadership symposium was being able to meet students from other schools — many of whom were not elected officials or involved in student government.

Hong said the symposium’s focus on activism was especially important because student activism has increased at SU and around the country. She said the role of SA members has evolved over the past few years because of strong student activist efforts.

Choi, an assembly member, attended the event and focused on the topic of LGBT access to resources. Choi said his group concluded that just because same-sex marriage has been legalized doesn’t mean the fight is over for the LGBT community.

“There are so many more issues that they are battling, and we must stick with them. Being mindful and inclusive are the first steps to take toward a more encompassing campus environment,” he said.

Corona, another assembly member who attended the event, said she benefited from talking with students from different universities about specific problems because it allowed her to see issues with a different frame of mind.

“We also all talked about the ways our campuses could improve and grow, and how we could make it more inclusive for all,” she added.

Next year’s leadership symposium will be held at Wake Forest University. Other SA members are planning on attending and representing SU at The National Conference on Student Leadership in Denver, Colorado, later on in the semester.

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