Inquiring Minds: Responsibility, power, trust and the student leader

“With great power comes great responsibilty,” someone once said. There is no better description for student leaders.

These leaders are everywhere. According to estimates by Vice President of Student Development Bettie Ann Brigham, there are over 250 students leading SGA, student clubs and organizations and athletic teams, and acting as RAs and student chaplains. This number does not include teaching assistants, tutors or Sodexho managers. We editors are ourselves student leaders.

And every last one of us has great power.

As members of these groups, clubs, halls and organizations, we have been entrusted with the voice of the campus: the voice of the students. As leaders, we have also been entrusted with certain aspects of campus life, from influencing university policy to influencing people’s spiritual, mental and emotional well-being. A lot rides on us.

This power is especially potent because we leaders exercise it in the public eye. People do not see us simply as other students. When they see us, they see a student chaplain, a Waltonian editor, an SGA member. And they watch.

We do not feel like public figures. We have normal friends, get swamped with the same amount of homework as other students, and encounter the same problems with parking and roommates as anyone else.

Yet we who are leaders, both in our roles and in our dorm rooms, sets the standard for the students who look up to us. They do not distinguish between when we are acting “officially” and when we are just being “ourselves.” The power to influence and change others never disappears. We are leaders all the time, no matter where we are or what we do. We carry the trust of others with us at all times.

It is through our actions that trust is gained, and because we are student leaders, the level of trust we hold is higher and harder to keep than that of other students. Our actions represent not only our own character but also the reputation of our organizations.

Students put their trust in leaders to keep them informed, help them through hardships and just be there for them. Let’s not take that trust for granted, and let’s not assume our power is limited.

Let’s recognize our great responsibility and use it wisely.

Inquiring Minds is the collective opinion of the editorial staff and not necessarily representative of the entire staff. It is written by the managing editor and the editor-in-chief.

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