“The role of students cannot be underestimated,” said Purity Wamuyu after she was officially voted in as a student representative of the Talloires Network Steering Committee.
Purity and Basavan “Basvan” Patil were both elected during August’s Steering Committee meeting in New York City. This vote and the ratification of the student policy are a first step in codifying student leadership at the TN, a priority that has gained much support from Steering Committee chairman Tony Monaco and members around the globe.
“It is encouraging to see that now students will have an official voice in the Steering Committee,” Purity wrote in her reflection. “It is important to note that the policy emphasizes autonomy of student representatives but also stresses that the selected students should strive to have good working relationships with their universities.”
(L-R): Basvan Patil, Vice Chair Cheryl de la Rey, Chair Anthony Monaco, Abigail Gomez, and Purity Wamuyu.
Abigail Gomez, who will be the student leader for the 2017 Talloires Network Leaders Conference at the Universidad Veracruzana in Mexico, also participated in the meeting at New York. She also attended the subsequent convening of the Youth Economic Participation Initiative partners in Talloires, France, and gained some clarity through that experience.
“(After) the experience in Talloires, France, I had a better understanding of the objective pursued by the Talloires Network through YEPI,” Abigail wrote. “YEPI partners made presentations on the progress of their projects, implementing strategies, how incubation works at each of their sites and the impact each wants to have on university and to society.”
Overall, Abigail said the meeting in New York gave her a more comprehensive view of the TN, what it does and its future direction.
Basvan also weighed in on some of the other items the Steering Committee discussed in New York, such as the process for electing new Steering Committee members, which is currently done through an online membership-wide voting process. Basvan noted that staggered turnover is necessary to enable other university leaders to serve on the committee while maintaining the expertise long-time committee members. He also praised the TN’s decision to formalize student leadership in the Steering Committee.
“The idea of making students a part of the decision making process is certainly one of the outstanding features of the Network, which has also become a strong case in demonstrating the capabilities of diversity at the Steering Committee,” he said.
Another strength of the Network is the vertical and horizontal spaces it creates for students and administration to discuss issues that affect the university culture and the communities in which they inhabit. “If it wasn’t for the Network, I would not have the opportunity to talk to a university president about issues,” said Purity during the meeting.
“One of the things that I found gratifying was that (the TN) takes into account the student voice,” Abigail said, and added that the Steering Committee and the Network as a whole are “poised to form alliances with their students, to create the changes they want to see reflected in society.”