Diplomatic Debrief: Students need to raise their voices to shape community, Bailey says

This week, The College Reporter is happy to debut a new column, the Diplomatic Debrief, written by members of the Diplomatic Congress in order to spread awareness of their work and important events, ideas, conversations, and more happening around campus!

By Donnell Bailey || Diplomatic Congress President

Since my first year at F&M, going to Diplomatic Congress meetings (and many other meetings in between) has come close to being a ritual for me rather than a co-curricular activity. Every Thursday at 6:00 p.m., student leaders from all facets of campus life gather in the Armstrong Room of the Steinman College Center to discuss and debate issues center to student life. There are many beautiful lessons I have learned serving over the course of these three years and I believe the most important one is simply this: It matters who is in the room.

Diplomatic Congress encompasses student representatives such as class presidents, fraternity and sorority leaders, athletes, committee chairs, house leaders, and so many others who come together to address student needs that must be met. However, in order to meet those needs, it is imperative to have people and student leaders who are fired up and want to take ownership of this campus, which we truly do have the power to shape. There are many student leaders who are committed to this work: Vice President Molly Caldwell ’16, who, this week, hosted trustee office hours in the college center in order to learn the stories and concerns of students on campus; Diversity Council Chair, Kaitlin Oliver ’16, organized and brought together student leaders who are committed to the work diversity and inclusivity requires; Sustainability Chair Shelby Sawyer ‘18 has planned this year’s Green Allies Sustainability Summit to ensure the student body has the resources and tools needed to be an environmentally-conscious
campus.

Their work is a testament to the idea that student government is about the issues we seek to solve, not the positions we hold. Dr. Linda Belans, senior director of leadership coaching for the KIPP Foundation, put it eloquently when she said, “It is the power of story, not the story of power,” that matters. While our passion for student issues and student government compels us to act, so does one’s story.

Each of our melodies and stories deserve a space in the room. It is these stories that cause a shift in thinking, a shift in conversation, and a shift in action. Diplomatic Congress believes that there is no idea too small and no problem too big for us to address together. We hope many more students across campus will join us in fulfilling the mission of creating a place of belonging for each student on our campus. That is why being a civically-engaged member of the College matters– it is connected to the ideal of the fair, just, and diverse campus we want to create.

Junior Donnell Bailey is the president of the Diplomatic Congress. His email is dbailey@fandm.edu.

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