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We’ve built the buildings, now build up the students

After the opening of the Johnson Center last week, for the first time while I have been at Belmont, there will be no cranes, blastings no road closures and no more Frisbees lost to the giant hole in the middle of the lawn.

There will finally be a pause on the construction and we can fully appreciate our campus. Belmont has grown rapidly in the last 15 years. We have new buildings, lost some old ones and have grown exponentially in student population. Belmont truly has been built into a world class institution, far from the sleepy southern college we were at the beginning of this century.

As President Bob Fisher pointed out at his opening convocation, Belmont has a whole lot of aspects that make it unique.

But now that we have built the buildings, added the programs and– hopefully–finally finished renovating the lawn, it is time to work on building up the students.

While the shakeups in the campus skyline may have ceased, there were a few shakeups last year on the student side. The suspension of the student government association, the religious discrimination in ResLife and the the unofficial charting and closing of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.

But now we have a fantastic opportunity to start again.

For too long students have not been a part of the conversation when it comes to the changes at this institution. Baby steps were taken by the formation of the Vision Council after the disastrous roll out of the Vision 2020 Strategic Principles. But that is not enough.

There is a new batch of student leaders waiting to help take this university to the next level, and it is finally time to start utilizing our passion and creativity to solve our problems. SGA is finally getting back on its feet with new leaders who are poised to make a change in how students interact with their university.

With Belmont topping out at over 7,400 students, it might finally be time to listen to the Greek organizations, of which I am a proud member, and add another Panhellenic sorority and Interfraternity Council Fraternity.

We need to commit to making Belmont a home to all students, no matter what the race, creed, religion or sexuality, and not just treat them like numbers to display on a PowerPoint. President Fisher said that Belmont is like a mosaic. While he was talking about our varied history and past, it is time now to really appreciate the mosaic of students at Belmont.

While the 125th anniversary is a great opportunity to look celebrate our rich past as a university, it is also time to start working toward what we want to become: a student-centered institution. This is a call to action to all student leaders, both in formal roles and in informal roles, to step up and let your voice be heard now that the din of construction has stopped.

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