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 March 2008 • NIRSA news and information
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Leadership Notes

Shaping NIRSA’s future: The role of students in the Responsibility Initiative

Diane Sylofski

As the 2008 Annual Conference approaches fast, the Student Leadership Team (SLT) is completing many of the goals they set out to accomplish. One of our most intricate, and definitely the biggest, objective set in Corvallis last year revolves around professionalism within NIRSA and the field itself. This undertaking has been a true team effort, and the team is excited to introduce it at the Annual Conference.

Working with the NIRSA Board of Directors and the Responsibility Initiative Work Team, the SLT has taken this initiative to an association-wide effort. We’ve integrated discussions on professionalism at regional conferences and Lead Ons, and you’ve all had so much to say. We’re quite excited about the level of discussion that has taken place and to share our results with you on a poster presentation at the Conference. Please check out the presentation to see how you and your peers are influencing the future of NIRSA.

Through these conversations, we have discovered that there is a plethora of leaders within this field. Yet, we are somewhat concerned about those isolated or not-so isolated incidents that sometimes occur at NIRSA events. Given what we learned during these discussions, we wonder why some of these things may happen.

Being a positive role model is easy to discuss abstractly, but what does it mean exactly? What we’ve learned from you is that a role model leads others, acts in accordance with his or her expressed values, inspires others, makes responsible decisions, and respects others. The positive role models at the Region III Student Lead On have inspired the SLT, along with our collaborators, to create a banner that will unite recreational sports professionals and students in this responsibility initiative. The students who planned the Lead On were initially motivated by the SLT’s effort and chose to further this effort with the creation of a regional pledge banner. One of the most prevalent characteristics of NIRSA is the members’ predisposition for sharing, learning, re-sharing, and re-learning. This cyclical nature of leadership, as exhibited in Region III’s banner asking attendees to “Lead Together,” truly signifies what NIRSA Members do best. Therefore, why shouldn’t we lead together the efforts to increase awareness of responsible decision-making and positive role-modeling?

The SLT and the Responsibility Initiative Work Team together created a banner that will be available for signing at the Annual Conference. We ask that you think about what it is to have integrity, to be a positive role model, and join in this effort by signing the banner. After signing the banner, you will be given a blue ribbon signifying your commitment to the pledge. This is a chance for professionals and students to discuss these concepts together and to find out more about the perspectives of each. Furthermore, if someone inquires about your ribbon, please explain the pledge and how they can become involved as well.

We are excited about this initiative and believe that students, as advocates for the future of NIRSA, play a great role in promoting responsibility and professionalism. It is through involvement that we can take ownership of our field and this association. Involvement helps us to acquire an invested interest, which, in turn, allows us to build an internalized sense of accountability. We are all a part of NIRSA’s future, so take advantage of opportunities to shape this future. If you are interested in getting involved in this initiative or simply in NIRSA, please contact your Regional Student Representative or me for more information. For additional information on the Responsibility Initiative, please read President Tom Kirch’s Leadership Notes. I look forward to seeing you at the Annual Conference.

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