We believe in student leadership for a number of reasons:
- Necessity: it is impossible to have a student society on Irish campuses unless it is student led. Universities are rightly suspicious of outside organisations, churches or religious communities coming on to campus and targeting students. But if Christian students wish to form a society, the university and Student Union authorities are usually very sympathetic. Student Unions have clear guidelines regarding society office bearers, and so Christian Unions are ready–made student societies with their own leadership in place. This protects the student leadership of the organisation, but also means there is a natural line of communication between CUI staff and those in leadership.
- Effectiveness: it is one of the best ways for students to grow in discipleship and prevents spoon–feeding. Many pastors and church leaders confess that they would not be as well equipped to do the work they are now doing had they not first of all learned ‘on the coalface’ of student leadership. Student leadership has helped them to gain wisdom and understanding through having to make their own decisions, learn from their mistakes, and lead their peers in mission in one of the most challenging contexts of today.
- Diversity: It prevents cloning; allowing students to learn from our staff and to be guided by them, while still allowing their own personality to shine and their own leadership style to be honed and developed.
- Strategy: it allows our staff to concentrate on key strategic training, provision of resources, and mentoring of significant leaders, rather than getting dragged into the day to day organisation of campus societies which is best left to the students themselves.
We believe campus groups flourish best when there is a synergy as student leaders and staff work together. If staff are excluded then the group can easily lose focus and repeat the mistakes of the past; if staff are over–involved student leaders can feel stifled and the opportunities for genuine growth are curtailed.