Shaping life on campus

Student council presidents reflect on their hopes for the 2016-17 school year

October 19, 2016 | Young Voices | Volume 20 Issue 21
Aaron Epp, Young Voices Editor

For many people, studying at college or university is about more than just going to classes. It’s about connecting with peers at social events, service projects and forums that happen outside the classroom.

Often, these events are planned by the student council. To find out more about the young leaders who are helping to shape life on campus, Canadian Mennonite spoke with the student council presidents from the three post-secondary institutions affiliated with Mennonite Church Canada about their hopes for the 2016-17 school year.

Jeremy Lieuwen, Columbia Bible College, Abbotsford, B.C.

Jeremy Lieuwen wants Columbia to be a place where students can “taste the kingdom of God.”

“My goal for this year is to taste the kingdom of God, to experience what it means to live where Jesus reigns, to be part of a community that loves and values and encourages you no matter what, [where people can] experience healing from the past . . . and experience better [their] identity in Christ,” says the 22-year-old, who grew up in Abbotsford and is in his fourth year of a degree in biblical studies.

“We try to have that DNA as part of each of our events,” Lieuwen says of his seven-member student council. “At the core of it, we always want it to be us helping students to really experience the kingdom of God.”

Being on student council can feel like a full-time job. He attends four or five meetings each week and spends at least two hours each weekday on student council-related work. But it’s worth it.

“Something I’ve been learning . . . is just how to walk in humility, and how much of what we do is actually God working through us,” Lieuwen says. “I believe that truth more and more every day. God is working through me, and it’s not by my strength or by my hand that these things are succeeding.”

Alyssa Lord, Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), Winnipeg

For Alyssa Lord, one of the best parts about being student council president at CMU is working with a variety of people.

“There are so many really passionate people [at CMU],” says the 23-year-old, who grew up in La Broquerie, Man., and is working on a degree in history and psy-chology. “People aren’t scared to share their values, and that’s refreshing.”

This is Lord’s second year as student council president, and she has two main goals. The first is to build relationships between CMU students and the students from Peguis First Nation who are on campus for a 10-month program designed to help them transition from the indigenous community 150 kilometres north of Winnipeg to the provincial capital’s urban setting.

Lord also wants to see more CMU students get involved in social activities, serv-ice projects and worship evenings that the various subcommittees of the 26-member student council organize.

Students who live on campus are more likely to participate in student-council activities than students who commute. Lord would like to bridge the gap because she has experienced first hand the benefits of participating in campus life.

“Being connected is pretty important,” she says. “You form a lot of important relationships when you’re in university [and] you learn a lot outside of class, through people and just experiences in general.”

Mika Driedger, Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont.

Before she was elected president of Grebel’s student council, Mika Driedger had never been in a formal student leadership position. She ran for president after two friends encouraged her.

“The idea of getting to kind of help coordinate people, and link people with other people who could work together, appealed to me,” says Driedger, 21, who grew up in Petitcodiac, N.B.

The fourth-year University of Waterloo biomedical-science student is enjoying the ways being president challenges her introverted nature. “A role like this really pushes me to make connections in the community with and between people,” Driedger says.

Like Lord, Driedger champions the benefits of being involved in campus life. “There is a huge variety in the stuff we do, which is fun, because it means moving slightly out of your comfort zone,” she says. “It gives you a different perspective of people, and helps you to get to know them in a better way.”

Driedger says there is a strong commu-nity at Grebel, and she hopes to maintain that during her time as president. “I see my role as to facilitate other people’s ideas, and make sure the student council—and therefore the student body—is moving in the direction students want it to move,” she says.

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