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CSA conference builds strong relationships

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A unique leadership conference took place at St. Lawrence College recently. Organized by Student Administrative Council Executive Vice-President, Leigh Bursey and the SAC members, the College Student Alliance Conference (CSA) was a three-day seminar aimed at regional student leaders with the goal of uniting organizations and improving student services.
As a member-driven advocacy and student leadership organization of over 135,000 members, the CSA serves 24 of Ontario’s colleges with the goal of ensuring a quality postsecondary education that will equip each student for a productive and successful career in his or her chosen field.
This years’ conference included four out of five of the regional CSA schools including; St. Lawrence College, both the Brockville and Kingston campuses, Sir Sanford Fleming and Durham.
“Being able to bring this type of event here was really exciting,” said Bursey, who also fills the role of Eastern Regional Director of the CSA . “We had about 25 delegates from four colleges within the region attend and the advantage to keeping it within the region is that the schools are all relevant to each other so local issues discussed are more.”
Local SAC president, Cooper Graveline, was impressed with the line-up of activities and guest speakers as well as the leadership excises.
“I was pretty impressed,” said Graveline, of his first conference. “This is a great exercise for unifying us as an organization and laying the ground work for us to work together throughout the year.”
The conference, which began with an opening reception on the evening of Thursday, July 21 included team work exercises, advocacy updates, regional round-table discussions, ice-breaker activities and a thought-provoking lecture by key-note speaker, Greg Libitz, a professor and specialist in Marketing and Business administration. Libitz focused on strategy and leadership techniques, reminding his audience that strategy and leadership are of equal importance.  “But if you have to be without one, its strategy,” noted Libitz. “People will always follow a good leader.”
This year’s highlighted events included a special political-panel question and answer period featuring Leeds-Grenville MPP, Steve Clark, assistant the Thunder Bay MP, Cameron Holmstrom and Brockville city councillor, Larry Journal as well as a culture-sharing exercise led by representatives from the Ronathahonni Cultural Centre and students from the Travelling College from Akwesasne First Nation.
“These were the parts of the conference I was the most excited for,” said Bursey. “It gave student leaders an opportunity to learn about the various levels of government and what it takes to be a future politician. The culture-sharing activity was an important exercise in keeping an open mind and embracing new ideas.”
“We had the opportunity to examine whatever we are doing well and what we may not be doing as well but what we noticed was that, as leaders, we deal with a lot of the same things. It’s a perfect avenue to share ideas and build alliances, you’re learning from your peers.”
The conference culminated Thursday evening ‘a perfect closing activity’, a boat ride on the 1000 Islands Boat Cruise.
“You have some of the best and brightest this region has to offer bunking down in our community,” noted Bursey. “They’re staying in our residences, eating our food, enjoying our facilities and going on our boat cruises and that’s a great thing for the community and when they leave this conference they can say Brockville gave them a nice place to go and will be eager to come back for the next conference.”

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