Student leaders voice their concerns to USA: Discussion and proactivity sparked among senators

By Felicia Smolen

News Editor

At the Senate meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 13, club leaders joined together to voice their concerns to the members of USA and address student apathy and lack of involvement in order to start a conversation and spark change. One prominent issue many students and club leaders have noticed is the lack of student involvement in clubs and campus events. Club leaders have struggled with continually declining membership and involvement and are finding it increasingly difficult to regain the successes they have accomplished in past years.

“As a club leader of a smaller club, meaning not RHA, C-Block, SPB, USA, CSA, I think that smaller clubs are suffering, club leaders are discouraged, frustrated, and upset because we put so much into our events and then we have very low attendance,” said President of Unity Madelyn Reed ‘18.

Reed is not the only club leader experiencing these frustrations. Many of the other club leaders she had spoken to could attest to this issue and how it has been affecting them.

Reed remarked, “I know that I’m not alone, because I’ve talked to many other club leaders and alot of people are feeling this pressure to make awesome events because we want people to show up… And I think part of the reason is because influential leaders on campus are not attending things as well.”

One potential reason for the lack of participation that was discussed was the idea that students are too materially incentivised versus wanting to go in order to support the Canisius community, better themselves, or gain personal skills. The lack of students supporting each other is at the core of this participation crisis. Support from the general student body allows clubs to have a thriving presence on campus.

Senator Jerrell Lanos ‘18 shared his thoughts stating, “I think that the problem lies in the fact that we are driven by incentives. It’s different from when I was a freshman; the reason we went was for support. We would go to events because one of our friends was in it, or there was a club leader there that you liked or admired.”

While Reed acknowledges the issue at hand, she also emphasized that attitude and attendance changes have to begin with campus leaders and representatives. USA in particular has senators that represent each of their classes, and it is important that they are showing as much support for clubs as they expect to be shown.

“USA has some of the most influence out of all of the students on campus. They have the funding, administrative support, and the numbers to make a difference that is manageable and feasible. The e-board of USA and senates job is to work together to form solutions to student concerns,” Reed said.

Many senators, however, find it very disheartening that the student concerns section of Senate meetings are rarely utilized. Vice President Katie Parker ‘18 expresses her disappointment saying, “We don’t see students coming to voice their concerns during the student concerns portion of our meetings and that is supposed to be one of the major functions of USA, to hear and listen to you all and be able to represent you.” Senators are thankful when students choose to utilize this opportunity because it gives them a chance to hear concerns, listen to what students want to see happen on campus, and gives them the opportunity to be proactive towards developing resolutions.

USA President Amelia Greenan ‘18 acknowledged an overarching issue that everyone needs to work on, stating, “It’s creating a change of culture on campus where there is a negative feeling right now, and if there is one thing I know it’s that you can’t change the culture in one day but you can take steps towards doing that.”

Senators responded to Reed’s concerns with engagement and positivity, conversing about various causes to the problem and ways in which this campus wide issue could be resolved. Many senators voiced their ideas on where the lack of participation could be coming from.

Senator Paige Phillips ‘21 said, “I know that when leaders and club members come knocking on students doors, they feel a personal connection and are more likely to go [to events] because now they have seen someone who will be there. Some freshmen aren’t fully socialized into the campus, so having this happen would make the events more available and appealing to them.”

Other Senators offered potential solutions and food for thought for the issues at hand. One advertising element that is not emphasized as much on campus is word of mouth. While there are a variety of posters and notices in the new “Today @ Canisius” system, students are missing the experience of having club leaders and members developing relationships with them through conversation, or something even so simple as going door to door.

“One thing I do know is that word of mouth really does work. I was casually conversing with one girl in a group of fifteen as they were sitting in the library and plugged the superbowl party, and she said she was going. No one else knew what it was, but after I explained what they would experience, I saw all fifteen of them there. So talking to one person can really work,” expressed Senator Ryan Boorum ‘20.

Reed was excited to see how much conversation her concerns had initiated and was happy that members of USA listened to what she was saying. She is passionate about involvement and recognizes the importance of making the most of the Canisius experience stating, “Students have to realize what a  privilege it is to go to Canisius and know that this is four years of your life that you cannot get back. Why hate your experience when you can love it and work to make it better? Students should take all of the opportunities offered to them.”

Clayton Shanahan said “We will definitely get this issue on our agenda for our retreat Tuesday and do something about it for you, our students, and us your senators so that we can work together [to resolve this issue].”

USA urges students to continue to share their concerns so that they can work together to come up with a proactive strategy to resolve issues and improve current systems.

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