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Organization presidents to gather for 1st forum

March 19, 2003

By Peter Anzollitto

Campus leaders will gather tonight at the first Presidents' Forum in an effort to unify the many student organizations at Baylor, solve common problems and establish lines of communication between the organizations.

'We want to encourage student leaders to encourage the members of their own organizations to develop a strong Baylor identity and to use their diverse talents not just in their particular groups but for the 'Bigger Baylor,'' said Student Body President Ade Ifelayo, a Sugar Land senior.

The forum, 'One Baylor,' was inspired by President George W. Bush's Economic Forum last August. Ifelayo had the idea of bringing campus leaders together and then was prompted by senior class representative Ryan Aman to make it a reality.

'I had realized for a while that there was a lack of communication between the campus organizations,' Aman, a Pearland senior, said. 'When I approached Ade about possibly putting something like this together, he said he had been thinking about the same thing.'

The night will begin with a dinner and address from Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. He is expected to speak on the importance of leaders on campus and how they can affect and change the campus positively, especially while working together.

Participants in the forum then will go into smaller groups for various workshops.

'The purpose of the small groups is to create more one-on-one dialogue on the issues we are discussing and to allow participants to choose what areas they could use the most help in,' Ifelayo said.

Participants will have the choice of three different workshop topics -- university relations, community service and member retention. All three are vital to running a successful organization and if neglected could cause serious problems,' Ifelayo said.

'We want to create an open floor for discussion where people will not only feel free to ask questions, but to answer each other's questions as well,' Aman said.

One of the goals of the forum is to allow 'issues that have been continually raised, but never given weight ... or things that are never raised because of fear, or fragility of the issues involved' a chance to be discussed and possibly dealt with, Ifelayo said.

Another goal of the Presidents' Forum will be to lay the groundwork for a Student Leader Advisory Board. The potential board would consist of 20 to 30 heads of campus organizations that would meet and discuss pertinent issues and then brief the student body president on them and make recommendations for change.

'A lot of universities have student leader advisory boards, which play an important role in solving campus problems,' Aman said. 'Our hope is that something like that can be instituted here and serve the same purpose.'

Though the board probably will not be put into practice this year the forum promises to make it a possibility in the near future.

'We want to establish a tradition of communication between organizations that will last for years to come,' Aman said.

The Presidents' Forum will be held tonight from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Cashion 510. Anyone who has not yet responded is welcome to come and register at the door.