As the devoted Netflix users that you are, dear readers, you’ve probably heard that the third season of House of Cards premiered this week, prompting many a binge of the best (and most realistic, says the cynic in our office) show about politics that the internet has to offer. And whether you love him or hate him, there’s one thing that hopefully you’ll be able to agree on: Frank Underwood is not — repeat, not — a leader.
For the record, this isn’t about to devolve into a discussion of the show, or morality, or some awkward commentary on politics. It’s an announcement that Frank, despite his official titles and accolades, is not someone who inspires or leads others. He’s just a guy with a fancy job.
Which brings us to an observation about F&M, albeit in a very circuitous way. This campus has plenty of jobs and prestigious positions to fill; in fact, in The College Reporter office at this very moment, there is an assortment of presidents, chairs, and officers to fill a UN summit. But like Frank, they’re not necessarily leaders. They’re just people like us that happen to have fancy jobs.
This isn’t to say that these people aren’t leaders, just that they aren’t leaders because their email signature says “President.” What makes a leader is someone who is willing to speak his mind or to stand up for her friends or to advocate for the people and the campus that they love. Don’t think that just because you can’t get into a club, or an honor society, or that you can’t get elected, that you can’t be a leader.
Unfortunately, this campus has a cultural epidemic in which leadership is conflated with authority, but that doesn’t need to be a chronic disorder. The best cure is to remember that votes or appointments don’t automatically make leaders—pride and honor and service do. So in the future, don’t look for someone with a position of authority to help you with your problems — look for a leader. And hopefully you’ll be able to look in the mirror and find one.