“A student leader is typically an elementary, middle, high school, or college student who serves in a leadership position in their school or on their campus. – Wikipedia”
Wikipedia defines a student leader as someone who holds a leadership position in school. But for someone who has been a student leader for the past four years, I can firmly say that it takes not just a position in an organization but a huge deal of passion, determination and commitment to be called a “student leader”.
Student leaders are often viewed as the “responsible kids” in campus. They are the ones who run the council. They organize your annual sports festival, the highly anticipated school pageants, leadership camps and seminars. They are usually the school’s representatives in seminars and conventions all over the country. They are the people who usually collect fees, distribute shirts, hold meetings, face administrators, answers queries and defends the students. But above all, they are the people you usually like to hate.
I don’t know why the gap between the students and the student leaders is so big. When you think about it, the student leaders, especially the ones elected in position, is usually the face of the majority of the students who opted for them to be in the position. To simply put it, they are “you”. And yes, they are still students. They are your representatives in the higher body. So you shouldn’t be aloof to them, and they shouldn’t be aloof to you. The students and the student leaders should have a mutual relationship with each other. Like any other relationship, it’s give and take.
But aside from being in the front line, I believe that a student leader is simply a student trying to make ends meet for his personal life while making things work for the life of other people. A student leader is usually the person trying to do things for others with the tendency of sacrificing their personal time. Student leaders are the ones extending their services to other people, yet they are the usual people at the center of all the hate and bashing the moment something goes wrong.
One can argue that student leaders have no right to complain about the stress they’re getting because they chose to run for the position in the first place. That the student leaders cannot complain about missing their classes or failing an exam because it’s their duty to study despite organizing a big event for the students or the community. That the student leaders cannot complain about any single thing because no matter what happens, there is no room for mistakes. By being a student leader for almost four years, I realized that by giving voice to others, sometimes, you simply lose your own voice.
I had my fair share of hate messages and bashes from unsatisfied students. There are also those who spread false rumors or give out false accusations for reasons I no longer understood. I didn’t understand why they hated student leaders when all we wanted to do was serve students. And the worst part was, you simply cannot answer back. Answering the accusations sometimes meant you were guilty of the act. Official statements sometimes worked, but once someone throws a bomb at you, you just simply wait for the explosion to end and just collect the damage after.
I can’t blame the other students for hating student officers. Look at our national government, don’t we hate our politicians? Sometimes the campus government is just a mere reflection of our national government and the students are just a more specific example of the “Filipino people”.
Now I can’t speak for all the student leaders out there, because to be honest, I know some of them have been doing bad stuff. But I believe that no matter how awful things get, no one deserves to be loathed for wanting to help. Nobody deserves to be called names and most especially, nobody deserves to be told that you don’t deserve the things that you do. No matter how much we hate the students in the position, we should never take away the fact that they have been doing the things that some of you don’t have the balls to do. We should never forget that they have exerted much effort just to be where they are now. At the end of the day, they are human beings who get exhausted. Student leaders are still students who have classes to attend to and families to spend time with. They are normal people who have limits, but don’t mind to push it, just so you can get the service that you deserve.
Student leaders don’t get automatic passes from professors to not go to class or to be excused to submit a project. They often get into trouble with their parents for missing dinners or birthdays or even Sunday family days. Student leaders dread every clearance signing, not because they’re supposed to sign hundred of papers, but because they’re clearances are on hold. They usually get sick because of lack of sleep, missed meals and overfatigue whenever events or activities come up. Student leaders sacrifice a huge amount of their time and practically share a huge part of their life for service but they only receive a discounted tuition fee(when elected), free shirts/items on selected activities(when you gets sponsors), cheap meals from turo-turo or fastfood chains (when you’re lucky) and hate messages (when you’re unlucky).
But despite all that, the only reason why I lasted this long as a student leader is because of the indescribable joy you get when you see a student happy because of what you did. You don’t necessarily have to get comments from them. Just that curve in someone’s face could take away all the negative feelings and exhaustion. And that for me is good feedback. Yes, there are those who hate student leaders, but I always believed that a large number of students hasn’t lost faith in their student leaders. And I am cyber-hugging every single one of you who never stopped believing in your officers. You have no idea how hard things get in the field, but I know for sure that the only way student leaders are able to push through, is because there are those students like you who never lost faith in them. Being a student leader might be hard, but it’s one of the most fulfilling things that I have ever done in the world. The incentives might be small, but the learning that I get are so big that it’s tantamount to winning a lottery. Almost four years of serving my fellow students and I haven’t grown tired of it. And I salute all my fellow student leaders who went through (and are still going through) the same things that I did. I might be retiring as a student leader (I’ll be graduating soon), but I know, I will continue it elsewhere.
Here’s to all the student leaders, potential student leaders and hardworking students on earth!