Student leaders from most of Temple University’s organizations came together to develop their sense of group dynamics this past weekend during the Student Leadership Retreat at Camp Saganaw in Oxford, PA.
Organizations such as the Main Campus Program Board, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., and many others were well represented.
Topics addressed included Funding Allocations, Diversity, Ethics, Transitional Leadership and Conflict Management.
James Fitzsimmons, Dean of Students and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, and Dr. Theresa Powell, VP of Student Affairs, made appearances Friday night to try and address students directly.
Those attending gathered in Saniford Hall, like a junior high assembly waiting for the principal, as Dr. Powell spoke of how she was “amazed at the diversity of the student body” and how “wonderful it is to be in the presence of such dynamic leaders.”
Later Friday evening, after Dean Fitzsimmons made a push for community service and homecoming, a Q & A session opened up.
This was the turning point for the evening as the focus of the weekend changed from learning how to be a good leader into students expressing their needs and trying to get their expectations fulfilled as members of the student body.
Maurice Franklin, General Manager of student-run radio W.H.I.P., spoke of student leaders needing more of a voice and being vehicles of change in the Temple community.
An intense discussion evolved concerning housing, diversity issues, learning disabilities, and allocation issues.
Fitzsimmons and Powell did their best to address all the issues without causing the students to feel powerless.
Powell reminded the students that they “have to take some responsibility for their own education,” after which, the evening came to a close and everyone returned to his or her cabins, meeting up with their nine roommates for the weekend.
Going to sleep at 1 a.m. and getting up at 7:30 a.m. is a regular schedule for most college students and this weekend was no exception.
After a 7:45 a.m. breakfast, students headed out on a low-ropes course designed to improve problem solving skills and group dynamics.
A balancing act involving tight ropes, tires, and wooden blocks created a circus-like atmosphere in which the goal was teamwork.
After completing the course, team leaders met with Therion Baker, TSG President, and Arnold Boyd, Program Coordinator from the Office of Student Activities, to discuss funding allocations.
Because of previous misconceptions, many personal problems, and animosity among the organizations, the meeting did not get off to a good start.
However, the meeting did alleviate much of the confusion and tension by clearing up how funding allocation works at the University.
Many students, like Travis Coley, Vice President of Alpha Phi Alpha, felt that this weekend gave them a venue in which to vent their frustrations.
He “came prepared to interrupt the sessions with problems,” but instead he “applauded the opportunity [he] was given to speak up.”
Baker maintained, “[TSG and Student Activities are] just trying to help everyone out. The responsibility lies with the students to get what they want and need.”
The afternoon sessions allowed for much more group interaction.
One session revolved around diversity, which is always a focus at Temple University.
Later in the afternoon, the student leaders were given an opportunity to feel like kids again during some free time in which canoeing, archery, and go-carts were provided.
This was the best chance for everyone to really take advantage of being in the woods, far from the distractions of the city.
Maurice Franklin summed up most of the students’ feelings by saying that “collectively, we are all students, we are all part of the body. If you have a vision, keep it going.”
Holly Logan can be reached at Hlogan@temple.edu