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President's Corner: From LSC to NCLC

By Nicholas Russo
On April 20, 2012


I had an incredible experience at the Inaugural National Campus Leadership Council (NCLC) summit in Washington D.C. last weekend.  NCLC was formed earlier this year as a non-partisan organization in order to create a network of Student Body President's from across the country.  The goal is that we would exchange ideas for best practices in our own SGA and also discuss possible solutions to issues that are affecting all young Americans. 

The summit started with an "Ice breaker on the issues."  This was, in my opinion, the most productive and tangibly useful part of the conference.  We split up into 10 groups of 10 Presidents in each group and discussed major issues in student life, such as graduation rates, scholarships, and communication between SGA and the student body. 

I learned that several colleges have started awarding scholarships based only on need, not for merit.  The idea behind that is colleges should be concerned first and foremost with students being able to complete their degrees, not with attracting the best and brightest students to their institutions.

Another idea that was proposed to help students afford college was that when a student enters a college, their starting tuition rate is locked-in for all four years.  I'm not sure if this would make a big impact on student's pocketbooks, or if it is possible, but it's an interesting thought.  One alarming statistic regarding student affordability is that in the 1990's, only 1 out of 3 students' needed loans to attend school. Now 2 out of 3 do.

Many SGA President's record a weekly address and post it to YouTube so students can hear about happenings in their SGA (similar to this column).  Some SGA's hold meetings outdoors and open forums in the center of campus to attract interest from students.   This may be difficult with Vermont weather but it is a definite possibility near the fountain pond, for example. 

The speakers at the event were truly top notch.  Ronnie Cho from the office of Public Engagement for the White House spoke about planning ahead for the future of young Americans. Dirk Kempthorne, former Republican Governor and Senator from Idaho earned a standing ovation for his talk about the importance of non-partisan leadership, commitment to serving your community, and working together to achieve real results. 

Other notable speakers included Matt Segal, CEO of Our Time, who spoke at length about what he called the "great heist" that is taking place in America today by corporate greed.  The conference closed with Steve Culbertson of Youth Service America who gave a great talk about how young leaders need to be engaged now, not just tomorrow, in civic and political activities. 

Four breakout workshops were intermixed with the speakers.  I attended breakouts on Energy and Environmental issues, Youth Unemployment, Budget Cuts and Local Funding, and Youth and Social Entrepreneurship.  

The conference was one of the best I've ever been to.  I learned a ton, and I was so re-energized after attending the conference, that I wished I had run for re-election.  The leaders I was surrounded with at the summit were incredibly intelligent and gave me much hope for the future of our country.

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