From classroom to council: a journey in student leadership 

By Chelsea Sheridan 

A small town, so rich with culture, burrowed in the heart of the Eastern Townships, is home to Bishop’s University. This small purple community is where I have discovered myself and now call home. I began my university journey at a larger university in Ottawa, feeling like it wasn’t the right fit for me. After looking into other places to study, and hearing stories from my Dad of his experience as a student here, I started thinking that Bishop’s might be the perfect place for me. Here is how I ended up in a leadership role in the Student Representative Council (SRC).

Three purple rubber ducks on a concrete ledge with a sunset over the field in the background.

Bishop’s unique size and culture gives students many opportunities to get involved, create meaningful connections, and find a sense of belonging. In my first two years here, I heard people talk about the Student Representative Council. This organization is run by students, for students. It is made up of diverse members that bring different and unique ideas to the table ensuring that all students get a voice. These student representatives work to ensure all students are happy and have opportunities to get involved. They listen to student concerns, plan fun events, and ensure academic structure and initiatives are thriving. 

Stepping out of my comfort zone

Then I heard of the senatorial position within the SRC, responsible for advocating for students within their academic departments. This position allows you to be a part of the SRC, sit on the Senate, and attend monthly meetings with faculty members including the Principal, Vice-Principal of Academics and Research, Deans, Chairs, and Professors. These meetings discuss and recommend major policies and plans for the academic development of the University. So, as a Sociology major, I became intrigued by the Social Science Senator position.

The process of obtaining this role, however, was slightly discouraging in the beginning. I would have to run a campaign on campus, reach out to Social Science students, and ask for their support. I had never run a campaign or participated in an election. This felt so far outside my comfort zone that I almost didn’t try. But no personal growth nor opportunity comes from remaining in a state of comfort. I put together a campaign, made posters, and reached out to students to gain their support and explain my reasons for running. The campaign and election process was an experience in itself. I learned so much about myself, gained confidence, and in the end won the position of Social Science Senator. Through this role, I have gained so many opportunities and made many meaningful connections. 

McGreer, Bishop's oldest buidling, covered in snow during winter.

Being a leader

Being the Social Science Senator has been an empowering experience. Amidst the early fall semester, the province-wide tuition increase proposal was announced. This allowed me to attend press conferences and sit on the Tuition Increase Response Committee to develop and implement initiatives against tuition increases. I helped organize mobilizations and create the student stories initiative, to showcase how the tuition increases would affect Bishop’s community. I also had the privilege of attending a senate meeting where we discussed and voted on the benefits and downfalls of the Fall Student Success Week initiative. With a seat at the table, I could participate in the conversation and advocate for students to keep Student Success Week. 

The Social Science Senator role has allowed me to make even more personal connections with my professors and other professors in my department that I would otherwise not have the opportunity to engage with. It has been exhilarating to learn new things about myself while pushing my boundaries and stepping outside of my comfort zone. I am currently doing things I never imagined myself to do. Bishop’s has given me these opportunities and allowed me to engage in meaningful work that may have been more difficult elsewhere. All thanks to Bishop’s I have discovered so much about myself with its unique opportunities. 

Bleed Purple!

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