Student Debt and Education Reform Are Biggest Issues for Young People, Say Millennial Leaders

More than 100 student leaders from colleges and universities across the U.S. convened in Washington, DC for the inaugural National Campus Leadership Council (NCLC) Summit last weekend.

Founded only six months ago by Steve Glickman, the former two-time Student Body President at the University of Maryland, the NCLC aims to create a network for presidents to discuss national and individual campus issues.

The student leaders were joined by representatives from the White House, State Department, U.S. PIRG, Center for American Progress, and the Department of Interior. All representatives expressed the importance of youth involvement in their offices, explained steps they are taking to include the youth voice, and answered students' questions.

But, the message of two keynote speakers in particular seemed to resonate with the students’ perspective.

Governor Dirk Kempthorne received a standing ovation after he told the student presidents to “stay true to your principles.” And Sunday’s final speaker, Steve Culbertson, the CEO of Youth Service America, drew praise by denouncing the common saying “the youth of our country are the leaders of tomorrow.” Instead he argued that “young Americans are the leaders now.” 

The summit demonstrated Culbertson's point. Leaders of various backgrounds, states, cultures, and religions discussed complex issues such as college accessibility, campus sustainability, and student debt. Many students were particularly concerned about the impending doubling of interest rates on student loans. Throughout the weekend, various speakers stressed that if nothing is done by July 1, students across the country will end up paying even more to go to college.

The student body presidents not only discussed issues, they also presented solutions. In terms of major national issues, the conversation repeatedly reverted back to the need for education reform.

Student leaders listened, respected each other’s opinions, and shared ideas for best practices. The NCLC summit created lasting relationships among student leaders and exemplified our generation’s commitment to improving the condition of this country.