Cabinet of Student Leaders
This week I wanted to take some time to bring you up to date on a group that I meet with monthly, the Cabinet of Student Leaders (COSL). In the past, the purpose of the meetings with this group was to act as an advisory group to the Vice President for Student Affairs. The student leaders were asked to provide input and feedback on services, programs, and overall concerns of the students on campus. When I stepped into this role I knew I wanted to continue the tradition of convening this group but I wanted the format to be a bit different and more concentrated in content for each meeting. I also knew that I wanted the meetings to be a joint effort with Student Government so I met with Brandon & Blake, our student body president and vice president, and they were thrilled to partner with me and were quick to impart their ideas and plans on what direction this group could go during this academic year. I also enlisted the assistance of our office’s Graduate Student Assistant, Steph Lee, who happens to be a former member of the COSL from her days as a Student Ambassador. She has been instrumental in the execution of these meetings and does all of the behind-the-scenes work from ordering the food to contacting panelists and securing the location. I am lucky to have her knowledge and expertise and because she was a member of this group during her undergrad, she imparts a unique perspective that I appreciate, as well.
The Cabinet of Student Leaders represents some of the most diverse student organizations on the University of North Dakota campus. Representatives of approximately 20 organizations meet on a monthly basis with Brandon, Blake, and myself to discuss topics related to today’s students. At the beginning of the fall semester, the COSL identified approximately 10 topics that they wanted to learn more about and engage in insightful dialogue with campus and community experts. To date, topics have included issues such as creating a community that is welcoming for diverse students, looking at budget cuts and their impact on students, and diversity and identity. At our upcoming meeting, the leaders are scheduled to meet with President Kennedy on February 8th to learn more about shared governance.
At the most recent January meeting, we focused on community engagement. We heard from three students from Dr. Soojung Kim’s Capstone course in the Communication Department. The students reported on research that they had completed in conjunction with the City of Grand Forks. The research looked at ways of making the Grand Forks community a place where students would want to stay and start their careers and lives. The Cabinet of Student Leaders made suggestions such as having speakers at the fraternities and sororities, allowing class credit for attending the annual Pow Wow, and ensuring that the Essential Studies program engages students on issues of diversity that are meaningful for our campus and our state.
Students also delved into deep conversations regarding the Essential Studies programs and whether they were truly fulfilling the expectation of diversifying their knowledge. They discussed items such as experiential learning and engagement and the concept of study abroad and ensuring that the UND experience is one that provides for well-rounded citizens and developing critical ideas that are challenging and pertinent to our global society. Student Body President, Brandon Beyer, expressed his appreciation by stating that “the Cabinet of Student Leaders has allowed the continued gathering of some of our most involved student leaders on campus. These individuals might not otherwise have been given the opportunity to collaborate and address some of the most pressing issues at the University of North Dakota if it were not for the COSL.”
I am pleased with the direction these meetings have taken and I look forward to the spring semester.
Let’s go Fighting Hawks!