“K’s student organizations are, instead of strong stone fortresses, more likened to sandcastles, each shaped, reformed, destroyed, and reborn with every incoming wave,” recounted graduating senior Graham Key as we discussed the future of Model UN’s leadership.
May is election month; as Sophomores and Seniors leave us, new leaders will assume command of student organizations.
This turnover has—go figure—two sides; it’s double edged, granting organizations a chance at betterment but binding us to the familiar cycle of StuOrg reincarnation. In our attempt to make organizations flexible, fluid, and adaptable, we prevent them from impacting communities in Kalamazoo and beyond.
Perhaps K students are too revolutionary, avant-garde, leader-like, and eager to craft their own spaces to have the time to spare and preserve what others themselves have toiled for in the past. The argument goes that flexible, responsive, and adaptable StuOrgs better suit the needs of the student body. The last thing we want, of course, is for our vigor to stagnate and to merely preserve the status quo.
But what do we sacrifice to achieve this ideal? Reform under new StuOrg leadership—the kind that discounts tradition or demolishes mission statements—is counterproductive, destroying the structure that often defines and preserves successful and impactful student organizations. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel with each passing year—that’s just a process which leads to an entropic expenditure of participant energy, time, and ideas.
We might explain the need to constantly reform StuOrgs through students’ desire to leave new marks upon their college. Though satisfaction can be found in crafting something new, what is left of our work in three years’ time? Is it better to build new or further what already exists?
“K has an amnesic collective memory,” describes Elyse Tuennerman, whom I’ve worked with this past year on the Student Funding Board. Her statement captures our need as a student body to repeatedly hold variations on the same themes.
May is election month. As we bid our sophomore and senior leadership farewell, I plead to the emerging leadership: you mustn’t necessarily preserve total memory of the past, but at least work to establish a strong foundation so that we may enjoy more permanent organizations.