Student Council hosts bootcamp meant to ease leadership transition process

Incoming committee chairs, representatives complete four-week training

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New members of Student Council work together during the final session of "Student Council Bootcamp."

Maya Lezzam | Cavalier Daily

Incoming Student Council representatives and committee chairs gathered together Monday evening for the final session of the “Student Council Bootcamp,” hosted by second-year College student Leeraz Zuo, the director of membership on this year’s executive board.

Zuo said the purpose of the bootcamp was to help ease the transition process because there is oftentimes a distance between a chair and his or her committee and knowing how those positions relate to the rest of Student Council.

“A lot of time, chairs would come in and they would know their specific industry and expertise really well, but they wouldn’t know Student Council as a whole,” Zuo said.

The bootcamp session involved presentations by Student Council members Katherine Brandon, the Student Council director of University relations and a third-year Batten MPP student, and Stephanie Soh, Marketing and Communications Committee chair and a second-year College student.

Brandon and Soh outlined Student Council policies regarding social media and interview requests to new members.

Sarah Kenny, a third-year College student and Student Council president, gave a presentation at the bootcamp about the importance of student self-governance and commented on a Ph.D. paper written by Nicole Eramo, the executive director of assessment and planning in the University’s Division of Student Affairs, which focused on this ideal.

“It is incredibly relevant as a case study that directly relates to Student Council,” Kenny said in an interview with The Cavalier Daily.

Zuo followed Kenny’s presentation by starting a discussion about the “big issues” that are currently facing the University, and what Student Council can do to help solve these problems.

Student leaders focused the discussion on problems which ranged from funding for the Elson Student Health Center and limited study spaces to a lack of diversity and inclusion on Grounds.

While there are not direct solutions to all of these problems, some representatives suggested that in order to improve diversity, the new faculty needs to be diverse because students want to go to be able to relate to University faculty.

Zuo closed this conversation by advising the incoming committee chairs and representatives to “think big.”

“If these things are what you’re really passionate about, go ahead and take them on,” Zuo said. “I hope it’s the beginning of a conversation rather than the end of it.”

Megan Routbort, a third-year College student and incoming Sustainability Committee chair for Student Council, said the bootcamp was particularly useful for her as this is her first time serving within Student Council.

“I had never really participated in green interests through StudCo before,” Routbort said. “So this has really been the exact jumping-off platform that I need to prepare me to pursue what I am passionate about.”

Kenny said in an interview with The Cavalier Daily that the bootcamp aimed to overcome issues such as the lack of communication that committee chairs have faced in the past.

“I think there’s been a lack of centralized communication,” Kenny said. “My first two years at Student Council as a committee member and a committee chair, I never interacted with anyone in a different committee.

Zuo said that although the bootcamp could look very different in the future, she hoped it would become institutionalized within the organization.

“I think my ultimate vision, goal and purpose of running a bootcamp is to really enhance the cohesion of the organization,” Zuo said. “I think Student Council could be a lot stronger of an organization if everyone in it is aware of everything going on.” 

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