When I transferred here last year from FIU, I was disappointed to find that students here didn’t hold student involvement and student leadership in a high regard. As I began to become involved at NSU, I learned more about the university system and began to understand the uniqueness of the NSU student experience. Here are six conclusions that I have reached in my two semesters of being a Shark:
First, many students and administrators often talk about the lack of a university identity. There is much conversation about how to create a university identity, but the solution is more obvious than many would like to admit: the formation of one unified student government. While many may oppose it, one SGA would not only unify NSU into a collective student body, but provide for an effective and efficient system of student advocacy and governance. The current system is ineffective and even more bureaucratic than a one SGA proposal because it not only defragments the student body of NSU, but defragments the way students get their issues and desires heard.
Second, student empowerment at NSU is lacking. Despite what many might think and feel, the students are the highest stakeholders of NSU; if the university succeeds, the students reap the most benefits. If the university fails to achieve success, students stand to lose the most. There should be a student trustee on the Board of Trustees and student representatives on university-wide committees, all with full voting power and authority. A student body that is empowered is directly equitable to a student body that understands and embraces its role within the university community.
Third, as service-fee paying students, the student body, through its student government officials, should be allowed to allocate the entire collective student services fee. If the secretary of treasury were to take the power away from your elected leaders in congress to write the budget of the federal government and do it without their input, people would be protesting and making a big fuss. In the same manner, students need to realize that the power to allocate the entire student services fee should rest with the students. This is a fee that we pay to ensure that we have adequate student services on campus, and it is only fitting that our elected student government officials have the power and authority to allocate the full fee, as collected by the university.
Fourth, the Greek community at NSU needs to advance itself. I went Greek as an undergraduate and it disappoints me when I talk to non-Greek students at NSU about the Greek experience, and their response is that “there is no compelling reason for me to go Greek,” or “why would I want to go Greek, that’s just a club.” What these comments say to me are two things: first, that the objective of Greek life isn’t understood at NSU, and second, that Greeks at NSU have not made enough of an effort to really impart upon the student body what Brotherhood and Sisterhood means. It’s more than just people who wear letters, and it’s definitely not people who pay to have friends per semester. It’s truly an experience that gives you a ritual that you use as a blueprint to guide you through all obstacles that you will encounter in life and assist you in achieving success. Greek life has a prominent role in student life at any college, and Greeks at NSU need to find ways to work within the confines of the current system to not only demonstrate that they can meet the expectations, but exceed them as well.
Fifth, there is a pattern at NSU to make decisions for the future of student life based off the past. The truth is that student life at NSU is growing and is on its way to becoming comparable to its counterparts in the state. It is impossible, for example, to believe that the undergraduate SGA could serve more students with $100,000, when student life has expanded drastically in the past two years. Reliance on historical information should be used as a starting point, but audits and forecasts should be heavily relied on to make accurate decisions about all areas of student life.
Lastly, students need to understand that the real and true power to change the studente experience at NSU rests with students. Apathy and complacency seems to be the norm amongst the student body. When I first came to NSU, I complained a lot about student life, but I also invested in the student body by getting involved and finding out how I can bring about the changes that I want to see at NSU. And after two semesters, I can honestly say that I have made exactly the impact that I wanted to make. I can only hope that members of the student body read this and decide to do the same.