By Ben Nye (Arkansas)
Sigma Nu has no shortage of student leaders. One such student leader and brother recently went all the way to the White House where he was able to participate in conversations that will influence higher education policy in the coming months.
Along with over 150 other student government presidents, Brother Austin Finley (Alabama in Huntsville) spent May 30-June 1 in Washington, D.C., for the National Presidential Leadership Summit hosted by the National Campus Leadership Council (NCLC). As part of Finley’s trip, he got to discuss prominent issues in higher education with fellow student government presidents and education officials within the federal government.
The summit featured discussion on many issues that Finley and other campus presidents face including Title IX policy implementation, campus sexual assault prevention, college career readiness, mental health, and college affordability.
Along with discussions about issues facing higher education, Finley and his fellow presidents were educated on how to be effective student leaders and implement necessary policies. “What can we do to make our programs more efficient and what are other schools doing that we aren’t doing?” relayed Finley, expressing some of the key focuses of the summit.
Among the benefits of the summit was the attendance of many outgoing student government presidents who helped the incoming presidents understand their roles. “We really heard what their struggles were and where we could something different,” said Finley.
Finley’s involvement with these high-level discussions, combined with his involvement in local prevention efforts, is emblematic of a much broader commitment by fraternities assuming a leadership role in the growing sexual assault prevention movement. Only a few weeks prior to Finley’s White House invite, Sigma Nu’s General Fraternity joined a consortium of other national fraternities and sororities to launch a new sexual assault prevention program of their own.
On the second day of the summit, the student government presidents met with many leaders within the federal government including the director of the It’s On Us campaign and several officials within the Department of Education. “They really asked for our input on several things. We were actually active in shaping what the current administration is actually doing in Washington.”
Finley’s experience has proved invaluable in shaping his perspective on governance and politics. “Going to something like this opened my eyes to see how much easier it is to push your ideas. It’s a lot easier when you come together as a group of student leaders.”
Brother Finley is eager to get back and shape more higher education policy in Alabama, but he doesn’t want to do it by himself. Finley wants to take his Sigma Nu brothers along for the ride.
“Through student government Sigma Nu brothers have the opportunity to lobby or get involved in state or local politics. I would encourage brothers to do that. Don’t just be content, take action. That’s one of the things I’ve learned since getting involved with SGA. Apathy is not an excuse.”