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FAU pays its student leaders, but charges them for mandatory leadership classes

Austen Erblat

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This is an updated version of this story.

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Jaclyn Broudy has led the Student Government House of Representatives on the Boca campus for over a year. Now, administration thinks the seasoned Boca House Speaker needs a one-credit class to keep her job and learn what leadership really means.

But Broudy is not the only person being required to take LDR 2010, also known as “Introduction to Leadership.” And even though FAU administrators are emailing students and saying the class is now required for paid student positions, there’s no university policy, regulation or rule to back this up.

“Introduction to Leadership” will be taught by a representative from the Divisions of Student Affairs  and some volunteer Student Government employees — as well as other students on campus — do not agree that leadership is taught in a classroom.

Associate Dean of Students Terry Mena, however, thinks otherwise. According to an e-mail sent by Mena on August 8, “this course is a requirement for paid student leadership positions. If you have any questions, please contact me … We are looking forward to liberating the leader in more FAU students through this course.”

Paid student leaders at FAU are those in high-ranking positions within certain organizations on campus. These include, but are not limited to, Student Government, Student Media (University Press, Owl TV and Owl Radio), Campus Rec and Housing.

According to the FAU course catalog description, “Introduction to Leadership,” is a course that “exposes students to the basic foundation of leadership and its application to college experiences in student leadership roles.”

The curriculum for LDR 2010 was originally created by the University of Maryland’s Susan Komives, who specializes in counseling and student development.

The LDR curriculum is “the best-practiced at many universities across the country,” Mena said. But no other public Florida universities require any class for their student governments according to the 10 respective media relations contacts at UF, UNF, UWF, USF, UCF, FSU, FGCU, FAMU, FIU, and New College of Florida.

Although LDR 2010 is a new requirement for all paid student leaders, the class became required for Resident Assistants and Orientation Leaders last fall, according to Mena.

The one-credit class will occur once a week for an hour-and-a-half at different times and locations on the Boca, Davie and Jupiter campuses. The class will cost in-state students $199.54 total and out-of-state students $718.09, according to FAU’s Tuition Breakdown. There is also a required textbook for the class, Exploring Leadership, written by Dr. Susan Komives that costs between $50 and $130, depending on where you purchase it.

Position Hours per Week Salary Total per Semester
Student Body President 20 $13.25 $4,240
Student Body Vice President 20 $12.00 $3,840
Student Body Speaker of the House 20 $10.50 $3,360
University Press Editor-in-Chief 20 $9.00 $1,728

But while some students are reluctant to take the class, a few resident assistants at FAU were grateful for the course.

John Allonce, a sophomore biology major and RA, took the class over the summer with instructor Katie Burke. “I learned a lot about how to be a great leader,” Allonce said. “Some of the basic qualities a leader needs, you need to know about yourself, before you can lead a group.”

When asked if he had any leadership experience prior to the course, Allonce told the UP he worked with the RSA Glades Park Community Council as a hall coordinator. He explained that he went in thinking that he knew all about himself, but the class made him rethink a lot of his values and why he had those values.

Sarah Suwak, a senior multimedia journalism and sociology major took the course with instructors Adam Schwartz and Lindsay Jones during the 2013 spring semester. “We had to do a portfolio at the end, so we had to look at different things we did on campus to promote our leadership and how we used our leadership roles,” Suwak said.

Though Suwak said students benefited from the class, she also explained that it was another class to keep track of on top of five others. “It’s not that bad in retrospect, paying for the class. I pay for everything school-wise, so I wasn’t angry,” she said. “But I know some people were upset paying for it, but it’s also going toward our job. None of the complaints were there when we ended the class though.”

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Many students are unhappy with the requirement of this course, however.

“Can leadership really be taught in a classroom?” Speaker Pro-Tempore Michael Cepeda, who already took the class, asked Mena in the May 24 Boca House of Representatives meeting. Cepeda, a junior political science and communications major, has been in the Boca House of Representatives for over a year.

“I don’t know how effective it truly is to teach students how to be a leader in a classroom setting,” Cepeda said. “I think everyone can become a leader through time and practice but there are some things you have to experience that a textbook can never teach you.

“I think the requirement for students with paid positions to take it seems kind of redundant. If you have assumed or have been elected to a position that pays, there’s a good chance it was because the people who voted you in, have seen the leader inside of you,” Cepeda told the UP.

Jaclyn Broudy has served as the Speaker of the House in the House of Representatives for a year and has been involved in Student Government for over two.

“I’m adamantly opposed to students having to pay for a required course out of their own pocket in order to hold a leadership position, and I believe forcing students to pay for a course out of their own pocket will inhibit students to actively participate within the various programs,” Broudy said.

Student government Parliamentarian and College Democrat Vice President Ian Dunne also took the class already and is not in favor of making the class mandatory. “I just feel that you should be able to learn about leadership through personal experience” Dunne said. “The LDR course should be optional and someone from administration should come once a year, talk to the students, and get their input.”

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An Interview with Associate Dean of Students Terry Mena

Still, administration says the class is mandatory for all students in a paid leadership position. The UP reached out to Dean Mena for an interview:

UP: Who will this class be required for?

TM: All paid student leaders within Student Government, Student Media, Orientation, Campus Rec, the Student Union.

UP: Are there any exemptions offered for students to not have to take this class?

TM: There are none. This is the first time we are doing this, so we’ll be looking at it on a case by case basis.

UP: Where will the funds come from to pay for this class?

TM: They are paid for out of the students’ own funds. They are taking it as a class to be able to run for a leadership position.

UP: WIll you offer a stipend or any refunds on this class?

TM: If student government thinks it’s imperative to take from A&S fees, then that’s something they need to discuss.

UP: How are the teachers compensated?

TM: The instructors do not get paid for teaching the class. It is taught on a volunteer basis.

UP: What do you say to the student who can’t afford this class or can’t fit it into their schedule?

TM: Please send an e-mail to me and we’ll take a look at their situation.

UP: How do you respond to students who say that leadership can’t be taught in a classroom?

TM: That would be the case for every major at FAU and every university across the country. That’s the essence of teaching and learning. You apply it in practice and see how people respond. Dylan [Bouscher, UP editor-in-chief] is a communications major. They learn in the classroom in terms of journalism principles and apply them in the newsroom. We’re going to teach student leaders the basics of leadership philosophies and they’ll be able to take them and apply them in their individual experiences in government, media, housing, and other avenues after FAU.

UP: How is this class considered a requirement if it’s not listed in Regulation 4.006, Section 10, with the Qualifications for Student Leaders, or anywhere else?

Mena did not get back to the UP as of publication time.

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