SGA holds first annual leadership conference

Matthew Minnella

In an effort to increase networking among student leaders and encourage cooperation among organizations, the Student Government Association held its first annual Villanova Leadership Conference in Connelly Center’s Villanova Room on Oct. 18.

The Master of Ceremonies for the conference, SGA Vice President David Pedra, began the evening by welcoming all in attendance and laying out the schedule for the event.

Student leaders, seated randomly at tables with other leaders, were given several topics for discussion to facilitate the cooperative process. Topics included sharing the mission of leaders’ respective organizations, benefits of co-programming, aspects of their organizations that could be improved with help from another group and future goals for their organizations.

Following an invocation by Dean of Students Paul Pugh, who reminded those present of the moral responsibility of all leaders, Dining Services served a meal.

SGA President John Von Euw spoke of the importance of community at Villanova and how it is created through the various organizations on campus. The unfortunate difference between many campus groups is the difference in resources, such as office space or budget, Von Euw said.

“Tonight is the first step towards bridging that gap,” he said. “We hope that tonight leads to an even more cohesive Villanova community.”

Von Euw shared his hope that the event could be a stepping-stone for further cooperation. One can find examples of collaboration between even the most bitter of rivals in order to achieve common goals even in the heavily biased environment of Washington, D.C., Von Euw said.

Closer to home, students can find an example in the inauguration of University President Rev. Peter Donahue, O.S.A. where many departments around campus worked together to carry out the event. By sharing strengths to overcome weaknesses, campus organizations can each help each other to achieve goals with greater ease.

“Through our collective efforts I believe we will only strengthen and embolden the Villanova community,” Von Euw said.

Vice President for Student Life, the Rev. John Stack, O.S.A., delivered the keynote address, focusing on the importance of campus involvement and leadership. Stack questioned what being a leader really means. Being a leader is more than just guiding individuals in attaining a goal, but also about leaders learning things about themselves, and learning from others. As a leader, Stack said it is important to be able to motivate people, encourage creativity and work towards a common goal. Leadership and campus involvement is important to the university because it helps to create bonds and friendship, contributing to the school community as a whole, Stack said.

Stack offered two challenges to those leaders present. First, he asked, “What can your group do to make Villanova better?” Second, Stack challenged leaders to identify people within their groups who are in need of help for whatever reason, and to show caring and assistance in improving their lives.

“As a leader you should step up, challenge them to look at themselves,” Stack said. “They might turn away, they might thank you or they might just be happy that someone cares.”

Von Euw said later that SGA will work with the Office of Student Development to continue building upon the progress started at the conference, as well as attempting to improve coordination between student organizations.

“I definitely feel the event was successful,” Von Euw said. “The leaders who attended felt they had the potential start to something that could be great for the Villanova community.  I think we got a lot of people talking and thinking about the potential success that could come from collaboration and working