It’s that time of year again when I usually write my scathing column about student apathy and the lack of leadership on campus.
In past years, I have criticized the CSU student body for not really caring about this university, and for being a cynical bunch of spoiled, sheltered, self-absorbed, tunnel-visioned zombies.
Well, maybe I was wrong (stop the presses a Collegian columnist has actually admitted he was wrong!) Why do I say this? I made a not so subtle discovery from the time I was a freshman to my last days as a senior. Being involved is difficult. Being different is difficult. Being a leader is difficult. Yet people become involved, different leaders all the time.
When CSU President Albert Yates announced his resignation this semester he couldn’t have said it better when he stated: “When you live this place 24 hours a day, every day, time it takes its toll.”
Yates was interested in the question of why leaders fail. It is a question I have also been pondering since his resignation speech. When you become dedicated to your job (what most people use as the measuring stick for success), the other aspects of your life (your family, friends, and relationships) begin to fail.
I look back at talks I’ve had with people who are leaders of student organizations and deep inside I wondered: What made these people different from the rest? Being a leader is filled with more pitfalls than the script to an Indiana Jones film. Why would anyone want to try to balance their personal lives with the responsibilities of school, work and countless causes? Is it just a masochistic urge to become a workaholic that a certain percentage of the population possesses?
Here is my conclusion: people become leaders because they believe in something.
The constant sell-outs at Ram football games this year are evidence of leadership at CSU. After accepting a 5-year contract extension this week, head coach Sonny Lubick said: “Sometimes I get up and wonder, what am I doing this for? Although what else would I do, be at home cutting the grass?”
Sonny’s job isn’t as simple as waking up, drawing some plays and heading to Hughes to hammer some tackles into the opposing team, it is much more difficult.
“It takes all of the little things to make the big things happen,” Lubick said. “As a coach, you always worry about what goes wrong.”
Of course having a winning season with some impressive non-conference victories doesn’t hurt to attract fans and more success. Although, what Sonny means is that without his assistant coaches, his players and the fans his success wouldn’t be possible. But at the same time as the leader of the team he is responsible if all those people are unhappy. He’s got to love what he is doing to take that risk.
In Tuesday’s election, the victory of the Republicans in retaining the U.S. House and taking back the U.S. and Colorado Senate was a testament to a current faith in President Bush’s ability to lead. Whether I agree with his decisions or not, I have to sit back and be amazed at the influence he had. Like almost every other journalist in the nation the president’s effect on election results caught me by surprise. His last minute, cross-country excursion on Air Force One to rouse the spirit of Republican and Independent voters alike tipped the political scales overwhelmingly back to the favor of the “grand, old party.” Although, we’ll see if voters still respect the president in two years, that is the gamble he has to live with.
There are plenty of students who have taken on similar responsibilities.
Associated Students of CSU President David Bower said in a Collegian article last week that he wanted more student involvement on campus. While I definitely agree people have much to gain from being involved at CSU, I can understand that some aren’t. Paying for your education, keeping up with your classes, and trying to enjoy your few years in college is difficult. Students who are part of ASCSU, ASAP, campus media are great examples of leaders, but not everyone is lucky enough to be able to maintain this balance well.
It is not that there is a lack of leadership in campus; it is just that people spend their limited time in the things that most interest them. This campus is full of leadership, you just have to open your eyes and know where to look. I would bet the majority of students who walk by you on campus every day volunteer at their church, manage businesses across the city or are members of less-visible campus organizations.
CSU students are not apathetic; you just don’t always see them in the same places you hang out in.