Moseley tables, workshop sessions and social media posts coming from The Center for Leadership this week have all echoed the same message: Elon University students striving for change are recognized, valued and encouraged.
Their weeklong celebration of leadership — LEADSTRONG Week, an event that previously had more of a global and national focus — is turning its spotlight strictly toward Elon this year with its theme, “Change Agents of Elon.”
Purpose and schedule of events
Running Sept. 28 - Oct. 3, the week explores what it means to be an agent of change at Elon and the everlasting impacts agency as college students can make on its community.
Jess Buller, a senior and the special events director of the Center for Leadership team, said this year’s theme of “Change Agents of Elon” resonates with her.
“The fact that we have a very specific theme this year related directly to Elon is significant because there are so many change agents at Elon who deserve that recognition,” she said. “So many students are actively working towards a change — be it a small one or a big one.”
Workshops this year include a Oct. 1 discussion led by The Oak House owner Phil Smith on how presidents at Elon actively sought change in their own ways, as well as a Oct. 2 interactive Moseley table.
The week culminates in IMPACT: Summit for Change, a campus-wide event that serves as an “opportunity for students to identify challenges or issues on campus that they want to address” and design “a Commitment to Action, better understand a process for civic engagement and leave feeling empowered to act,” according to the Elon University website.
Change agents highlighted
Buller said the fact that so many change agents, or students that spur social action on campus, exist at Elon made it very difficult to choose the few students to spotlight during the week.
Noah Sakin, a senior and one of the students the Center for Leadership plans to spotlight during the week, said the recognition is significant because it encourages students to think about the impact their work is having.
“I think it’s an important week because Elon students doing important work need some sort of recognition to help encourage them and remind them that what they are doing has a value,” he said. “Taking time to realize that students actually have an impact and can make a difference can be encouraging both to those students identified as change agents, as well as the rest of the student body.”
But to Buller, it goes beyond recognition.
“There’s often a misconception that change agents have to be students who are doing very large scale things,” she said. “It’s not like that. Anybody working toward a level of change is a change agent.”
Safe Rides goes beyond
Sakin is being recognized for his work with Safe Rides, an organization he joined in his first few weeks as a freshman. A firm advocate against driving under the influence, Sakin said the message behind Safe Rides is one of the many reasons why he has stayed committed to the organization for so long.
The student-led organization was created after an Elon student died while driving drunk in 1992. Sakin said he feels comforted in knowing that since the student’s death, there hasn’t been another Elon student to die from driving under the influence.
“This, I believe, is partially the result of Safe Ride,” Sakin said. “We make it ‘not cool’ to drive drunk. Students will be more likely to say, ‘You drove drunk? Why? Why not just take Safe Rides?’”
Sakin said what ties students who actively seek change on campus together is the need to go above and beyond their stated duties.
“A change agent is someone who doesn’t just keep doing their job,” Sakin said. “It’s someone who realizes that there are improvements to make and is constantly willing to fight for those improvements.”
Sakin encouraged students around him to learn from the many students at Elon who actively and publicly serve as makers of change.
“The only difference between someone who makes a change and someone who doesn’t is their voice,” he said. “Speak up until your voice is heard.”