The 2010 Student Leadership Conference, entitled “Inspiring Civility” at the College of Staten Island recently treated students from CSI and other schools to a day-long program of speakers and workshops to hone both leadership and interpersonal skills in an increasingly fragmented political landscape. One of the event’s keynote speaker was Donna Brazile, whose long and impressive resume includes working on every Democratic Presidential campaign from 1976 to 2000, and serving as a political commentator on CNN, ABC, and NPR. Using examples from history and her own life, Brazile underscored the importance of a civil political discourse, encouraging attendees to form their own opinions before engaging others about current affairs.

Commenting on her experience at the conference, Jolanta Smulski, a senior who is majoring in International Business, said, “I feel that the Leadership Conference as an event has come so far because the first time I went, there were about 40 students there…but at this event there were so many participants from so many schools around New York City, so it was a really great networking opportunity. I met other students who are part of student government or other volunteer organizations on their campus and I connected with them. So now I can work with them on leadership initiatives, and I think that that’s the whole point of a leadership conference.”

Katrina Hannan, a double major in English and Psychology at CSI, added that “it was a fun, informative, well-planned, and successful conference…I thought that there was a really large attendence this year, a lot of students came, and faculty as well…In general the conference kept my attention because it was inspiring…”

The event’s other keynote speaker was Joe Urbanski, Executive Director of Seminar Design & Delivery, College EmPowerment, who discussed a plan for inspiring civility one person at a time, called “The Four Agreements. The agreements are “Be Impeccable with Your Word,” “Don’t Take Anything Personally,” “Don’t Make Assumptions,” and “Always Do Your Best.” Urbanski’s speech was followed by individual workshops that addressed each agreement.

By Terry Mares