Leadership Summit Aims to Incorporate Entire Student Body
Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 05:01
The Center for Student Programs held its second annual Leadership Summit, which brought leaders of different student organizations together in Potomac, Md., on Jan. 7 and 8.
The retreat, which typically draws students from large campus organizations, attempted to better represent the overall student body this year.
CSP invited all students to register for the leadership summit regardless of organizational affiliation and advertised through HoyaLink, Twitter, Facebook and email. Additionally, CSP reached out to specific groups on campus, such as the Georgetown University Student Association and the Advisory Board for Club Sports.
However, some students in attendance noted that the makeup of the retreat still erred toward well-known campus organizations affiliated with the CSP.
“I think the retreat could improve by making the experience more available to the general student body. If I wasn’t in GUSA, I wouldn’t have known about the retreat,” GUSA Senator Ben Weiss (COL ’15) said. “There were a lot of people were from the same groups, such as the Programming Board and LEAD and [New Student Orientation] for example. There are other parts of the Georgetown student body that really weren’t represented, and it’s always better to have a more diverse group of student leaders to improve the network capabilities.”
CSP established the summit last year to consolidate and complement leadership retreats that organizations such as NSO, the Georgetown Program Board, Georgetown Opportunities for Leadership Development and the ABCS,had previously held separately. The summit, which was facilitated by CSP advisers, emphasized leadership, conflict resolution and teamwork training.
“The summit grew out of an effort to collaborate and build connections between many student groups that work closely with CSP,” CSP Director Erika Cohen Derr wrote in an email. “By pulling these groups together and opening up the retreat to other students we found that we could achieve the same goals for groups, and provide better context for networking, collaboration, teamwork, creative problem solving, cross-cultural conversations and personal leadership styles.”
The summit’s 40 participants left campus at 9 a.m. and traveled about 15 miles to Rockwood Manor Estate in Potomac, where they engaged in leadership workshops and discussions during the evening and spent the night in cabins at the retreat center.
Students attended the summit for free. Transportation, lodging and meals were funded by a variety of sources according to Cohen Derr.
The summit combined small group activities and large group discussions to teach leadership and networking skills.
Many students said that the diversity training led by CSP advisors Justin Smith and Sonam Shah was the highlight of the summit.
“The diversity training was really valuable and it began a conversation that we don’t really begin enough at Georgetown on what diversity looks like, what it means to be an ally and what it means to be really inclusive,” Center for Social Justice Advisory Board for Service Organizations member Morgan McDaniel (SFS ’13) said. “I think that a lot of people are going to take that away from the retreat and try to carry that conversation forward if not on campus as a whole amongst ourselves and our friends and our colleagues.”
Weiss noted that the training led to honest discussion among participants.
“Because we were able to start this conversation [on diversity] through the advisors’ exercise, I ended up having one of the best conversations I’ve had at Georgetown,” he said. “We talked for two or three hours about concepts of race at Georgetown, religion and other types of identities. It was just incredible and it was all students. Through the retreat, we were able to have this phenomenal conversation.”
McDaniel wished that there were more conversations about specific student activities’ goals for the semester.
“The workshops on leadership skills were really useful and beneficial, but I think it would also be really helpful to spend some time talking about student activities at Georgetown and the goals of our groups and our visions for how we want to leave campus at the end of the semester,” she said. “That would have been a really good way to spend our time as well. Finding a balance between those two elements could improve the retreat.”
Participants appreciated the chance to meet other student leaders on campus and hope to collaborate and network with them throughout the semester.
“This was a great opportunity. Now I know people and have had really good conversations with people in other advisory boards and in student groups, and now it will be easier to talk to them,” GUSA Senate Speaker Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) said.
“I thought the one-night stay was really great and I thought the retreat was a great energizer before coming back to school,” Student Activities Commission Commissioner and College Democrats Treasurer Katherine Key (SFS ’15) said. “My favorite part was that I got to connect with other people. It was really neat to connect with other student leaders, who I usually do not have much contact with and to see how they run their organizations.”
Student attendees said they appreciated the summit.
“It was a great opportunity to get away from the university and meet some new people and to gain a new perspective,” McDaniel said.
CSP administrators also felt the summit fulfilled its goals.
“Overall, we were pleased with the retreat and how well it met the intended objectives,” Cohen Derr wrote. “The students who participated were incredibly engaged, and took advantage of the opportunity to work with others, to share their stories and experiences, to consider and apply new knowledge, and to seek out different perspectives. Personally, I can say this was one of the highlights of my time at Georgetown.”