Navigating Rough Terrain: Positioning yourself as a student group within U of T

WRITTEN BY: Mathieu Bilodeau, University of Toronto Sports and Business Association President

Positioning yourself as a student group within the sphere of U of T can sometimes be very hard.

Gaining recognition as a student group not only takes time and effort but also a considerable amount of investment both emotionally and physically from your student group executives, managers, and interns. Learning how to effectively rally a group around a single point can make or break the cohesiveness of your student group. Below are a few key steps that I have noticed truly allow student groups to not only distinguish themselves from others, but in fact excel at what they do.

STRONG LEADERSHIP: It takes a strong group of individuals to come together and centralize each other around a cause, it takes an even stronger group of leaders to keep that momentum going. Oftentimes people enter the year with the passion and youth associated with just having finished summer vacation and coming back to fresh beginnings. As time passes motivation and commitment to student groups tends to diminish as the pressure of midterms, exams, and just life in general begin to set in during the school year. Effective and motivational leaders know each of the individuals in their group. They learn what motivates and impassions each member. When team members get down and begin to wane during the year, great leaders step forward and acknowledge this head on. Being a good leader takes courage, passion, and most of all a drive and dedication to make things better than they already are, even when things seem like they’re going well. Being able to action on these traits as a leader can not only lead to more motivated individuals, but overall a more cohesive group.

ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT: It is one thing to host events in the hopes of having interested attendees come out, it is an entirely other thing to have event attendees be actively engaged and participating in the events you host, not just physically but also emotionally. Good student groups, and those who stand out the most in my opinion, strive for more than just mundane events. They take chances and change the landscape of which they belong by introducing creative and disruptive events for all their event attendees. Knowing how and when to push the barrier of what people consider possible for student events is when you have truly actively engaged and excited delegates.

Strong leadership and active engagement are two things many people knew beforehand, but far too few actively pursue to accomplish. Taking the extra step to put yourself out there as an organization is what it takes to differentiate yourself from the remainder of the rest of U of T’s student groups. People notice innovation and passion, use this to your advantage.

Mathieu Bilodeau

President, University of Toronto Sports and Business Association

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