Ross discusses importance of leadership in speech

Breanne George

Executive Director Bill Ross of the Undergraduate Student Senate spoke to a group of 10 students last night on the second floor of Centennial Court F about the importance of student leadership at Kent State.

The speech was part of the Centennial Leadership Academy speaker series in which student leaders talk to the freshmen living and learning community in Centennial Court F.

Ross discussed what USS is and how important it is to vote for student representatives. He said this year’s USS candidates have a lot of great platform ideas, and he encouraged students to make sound judgments on candidates and pay attention to the issues.

Ross said he is hoping for a voter turnout of 2,500, which is the highest number of voters he has seen in his four years on campus. Last year’s voter turnout was between 1,200 and 1,400, he said.

“I hope to see a higher number of voters, so we can start to see a more successful student government,” he said. “Reaching out to the student body is always a problem.”

Ross emphasized how this year is a recovery year for USS as they put themselves in a position that is more respected. He said he believes USS will only get stronger.

“The two candidates for executive director are well-qualified and know how to reach out to the student body,” he said. “They saw what worked and saw what failed.”

Ross shifted the speech from USS to focus on how freshmen can get involved on campus. He said coming from a small town in upstate New York to a major university in Ohio was a difficult transition. He recalled his insecurities as a freshman rushing a fraternity.

“I was very self-conscious and was too afraid to step out of my shell,” he said. “You have to get rid of self-conscious fears of approaching someone if you really want to get involved in an organization.”

Ross talked about the importance of selflessness as a leader. He said he has seen good leaders with different leadership styles who all have one thing in common.

“I notice a sense of caring in all great leaders,” he said. “And this is the least-talked-about characteristic.”

Members of the CLA said they learned a lot from Ross about USS and the importance of becoming a student leader.

“They (student leaders) bring different perspectives that are very informative,” said freshman conservation major Erin McNutt. “Ross gave us insight into a student organization freshmen don’t know a lot about.”

McNutt said she would like to run for a leadership position at some point in her college career.

Freshman fashion merchandising major Danielle McRickard said the CLA speaker series is informative for freshmen.

“We see how they use their leadership skills and learn different ways to get involved,” she said.

Caitlin Faas, junior family and consumer studies major and candidate for academic affairs senator, is the other coordinator of the speaker series. She said she respects Ross for what he did for the position she is currently running for.

“He is the first speaker to really clarify the importance of caring about your position,” she said. “I’m very passionate about academics, so I see that as most important.”

Contact student politics reporter Breanne George at [email protected].