Imagine a two thousand students, staff, faculty, and members of the community one night walking around in the library lawn outside of campus: some mingling, others by the funnel-cake-food vendors, some relaxing on the hay bale seating sipping on a hot chocolate listening to the acoustic band, and others are cheering as a hay ride trollies them around Southeastern University’s campus.
On another night, one can find up to sixty students gathering in the campus café with staff and faculty, dialoguing about their voice being heard and their opinions on politics, academics, and the world at large. Now imagine all of these nights being run smoothly by student leaders, crafting their gifts and leadership one day at a time.
As a Southeastern University organization, Student Body Leadership Council (SBLC) strives to create a variety of college experiences and provide voice for students, they also lead the student body, learn what is really means to have a servant’s heart, and cultivate skills that will change them long after they are gone.
“SBLC as an organization plays a significant role in developing student leaders on our campus,” explains Hillary DeMeo, Director of Activities at Southeastern University. “Yes, we plan events and yes, student government really advocates for the voice of the students, but our highest priority is to create disciples and helping them find who they are.”
Senior Josh Berg, the current Student Body President defined SBLC in its two highest priorities: “enhance student voice through student senate, and create spaces for students to have fun and meet new people in a godly environment through events.” So what exactly does that look like?
The team itself has two co-functioning teams – Student Government Association that leads Senate and Political Forums, and Campus Wide Events, which contain Experience Events that fulfill Fall Fest with a festival feel, and Production Events that produce shows like the comedy-driven “Thursday Night Live.”
The students that comprise between this team work day in and day out developing into a person individual and team as a whole. Every Monday and Friday morning you can find them meeting to discuss upcoming events, talk out how their journey is growing them personally, and updates on the campus, to name a few.
Occasionally, they also have meetings with Vice President of Student Development to communicate vision for the school, and have breakfast with the University’s President, Kent Ingle, dialoguing what it means to be a leader and being poured in to.
“The greatest benefit of being on the team is getting to be mentored by SEU staff and leaders, like Chris Owen, VP of Student Development,” states Junior Brianna Kuck, Coordinator of Campus Wide Events. “There are so many great opportunities for discipleship and growth.”
Mentors, retreats, conferences, life applications, and events flood the minds of SBLC members; so as the rewards are great, so is the work.
Conferences such as Catalysts that SBLC attend presents huge opportunities to become better leaders. Not only that, great chances to meet people, like Executive Producer Mark Burnett of television shows on Fox and ABC.
Planning the events that grace the campus, teams coordinate and begin to plan six weeks out from their event date. They hold brainstorming meetings that include students from Athletics, Residence Life, staff, and other departments to have a pool of creativity and possibilities for the event. Next they meet in the individual team to make executive decisions and move from there.
Though from the outside it might look easy, the high rewards match the high work and responsibility; and with that hard work and meeting deadlines, there are sure to be trials accompanied. Kuck enlightens that the hardest thing that members deal with is conflict. “You are working with some of your best friends, and when stress gets high, sometimes relationships have tension.”
“I think one of the hardest trials is learning how to be organized with your lifestyle, especially if you learn by trial-and-error,” explains Berg as he reclines at his desk with his iPhone and textbooks by his side. The great thing about SBLC in regards to events and success? It’s a free place to try something huge, have it work or not, have your team pick you back up, and strive forward to learn from it.
Being stagnant and unchanging for an organization can be detrimental when there is not pressure; to confront that, the team as a whole and individually aims to improve on the former to be more effective.
Looking back when she started in SBLC as a vice president for the sophomore class nearly ten years ago, and reflecting on her role now as the Director of Activities, DeMeo views the SBLC team as a vital, functioning part for student development at Southeastern University to expand. She wishes for the numbers to grow with student leaders, lives be changed from molding into disciples, and to glorify God doing it.