Student leaders gather for conference on leadership
Hundreds of young Stellenbosch University leaders gathered at the DF Malan Memorial Centre on Friday (14 September) for the start of the 4thannual Stellenbosch Leaders Conference.
Before they set off to different tailor-made workshops, they were welcomed by Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel, Vice-rector: Learning and Teaching, and Clinton du Preez, chair of the Student Representative Council (SRC).
They were then challenged by plenary speaker Prof Greg Ricks, emeritus Dean of Students at Stanford University in the USA, to use this opportunity to become true leaders. Ricks has been involved in the training of student leaders at Stellenbosch University (SU) since 2006.
“I believe young people can lead today. Why wait until tomorrow?” he asked.
While tweets from students attending the conference were broadcast on two screens, Ricks asked the young leaders to stand up if:
- They believe that leadership development is important;
- They believe that Stellenbosch University’s greatest resource is its people;
- They are committed to form relationships with people before they judge them;
- They believe that a person’s actions and words are more important that the colour of his/her skin;
- They believe that leadership is service to others;
- They believe that community service is the rent we pay to be citizens of this world;
- The entrepreneurial spirit is alive in them;
- If they are idealists.
“New leadership is bold and it is courageous,” he told them. He challenged them to ask: Why not now? Why not me?
“The diverse SU you attend today, is a greater university than the SU your parents attended, or your grandparents, and your grandchildren will say the same. One day they will ask you: Were you one of those young leaders who had the guts to make a difference? Get on the side of idealism. Truly believe you can do it.”
Du Preez also challenged the students to play their part in making SU and South Africa great.
“You don’t want to look back in 20 years’ time and realise that you weren’t part of the change,” he said.
Prof Schoonwinkel encouraged the students to look beyond their term. He wished them good luck and gave them five quotes to consider:
- “A leader who develops people, add. A leader who develops leaders, multiply.”
- “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”
- “To achieve success is important, but to prepare is more important.”
- “If some wants to be first, then he has to be last – a servant.”
- “True leaders are ordinary people with extraordinary determination.”
The conference, drawing to a close on Sunday (16 September) included topics such as: Social Media and Campus media; Creative Tools for Problem Solving; Being Efficient and Effective in Different Communication Styles; Introduction to Budgeting and Creatively Working within the University Structures. It was hosted by the Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert Institute for Student Leadership Development.
Dr Leslie van Rooi, head of the Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert Institute, said this year Leaders’ Conference shifted gears as it focussed more on equipping the elected student leaders with soft skills that will aid them in fulfilling their various representative and leadership roles on campus.
“Students weren’t only trained but inspired to be agents of change both on and off campus,” he said.