The Student Government Association held their weekly senate meeting and welcomed guests Chancellor Mary K. Grant and the UNC Asheville College Republicans club. Grant emphasized her gratitude and recognition of the student leaders and stressed the importance of accepting opinions other than one’s own.
“Thank you for what you do and the leadership you provide the campus because each of you right now could be doing something else,” Grant said. “It really makes a huge difference and leadership is not always easy.”
Grant discussed the necessity of opening up to the opinions of others and understanding more than one way of thinking exists.
“People don’t think about the world in one way,” Grant said. “It’s never good to walk into a room and assume what people think or how they’re feeling. The most important thing you can do is put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Understand where they’re coming from. Understand how they view the world.”
Recently, the UNCA College Republicans distributed advertisements for their club, which were quickly destroyed by members of the campus, Residential Senator and Legislative Librarian Rachel Maynard said. SGA discussed these recent developments following Grant’s discussion regarding respect of other’s opinions.
“We are an open campus and are respectful of all viewpoints and ideologies. Just enact that and encourage that among your peers, residents and friends,” Maynard said.
The senate discussed the idea of taking pictures of destructive activity regarding groups, such as UNCA College Republicans. Other ideas focused on the importance of widening perspectives, a notion paralleling Grant’s.
“If we’re just constantly approving and affirming everything all the time, we’re never going to have to critically think why we think that way or what we believe in,” Sophomore Sen. Lauren Bulla said. “Understanding that there are people on this campus with different backgrounds and understandings is very much in line with what Chancellor Grant was saying.”
According to Grant, the students of UNCA continue to inspire her in her endeavors as chancellor.
“I have been the chancellor now for two years. I was a college president for 12 and I have always learned from the students that I have had the privilege to work with,” Grant said. “Each day, you’re trying new things and you’re exploring the world and you help us make a better institution. My opportunities to connect with the students here help to make me a better chancellor.”
Grant’s speech to the SGA uplifted the senate meeting and surfaced an important theme regarding leadership. Although tiring and sometimes discouraging, an individual’s ability to lead initiates change needed for communities to succeed, according to Grant.
“That’s one of the beautiful things about all of you in this room,” Grant said. “You see things that you want to make a difference about. You see things that you care about. You see things that you’re passionate about and you say, ‘I can do something, I can make a difference here’ and that’s what it’s going to take.”
The 50th senate meeting adjourned with Grant’s message about leadership and the need for forwardness, especially the forwardness of student leaders.
“Every morning, there’s a story about something happening somewhere and you could just say, ‘Oh my gosh, things are so crazy. I’m going to stick my head in the sand. I’m not paying attention. Somebody else is going to have to deal with it,’” Grant said. “We can’t do that. You can’t be discouraged. Energy can be a little low sometimes, but we can’t be discouraged.”