Where Everyone is a Student
If Toastmasters is "Where Leaders are Made?"; what is a college toastmasters club?
The answer I arrived at is "WHERE EVERYONE IS A STUDENT".
Toastmasters received its non-profit tax-free status on the basis of having an educational mandate, and while the tagline "Where leaders are made" speak to what Toastmasters International wants to be, a campus club should be the embodiment of the educational mandate and WHERE EVERYONE IS A STUDENT reinforces that.
Even District level positions in a Toastmaster program are a part of its educational program. Just because Toastmasters has a system of executive positions which members are elected to, does not necessarily mean that incumbents in officer positions view their role as a learning opportunity. The more a member values education, the more they will view their role as a learning, as well as delivery of leadership, but the more a member views their role as authority, then that value expresses itself, and it is not surprising if members operate this way.
This is an opportunity for campus clubs to really distinguish themselves from clubs which constitute a corporate or community club culture. This also leads to what a college toastmasters club is and here there are two clear distinctions :
1. A Campus Club
2. A Faculty Club
A campus club should be viewed as a college toastmasters club, but a faculty club comprising of professional employees or staff of the college or university should be considered as a corporate club. What makes this distinction between corporate and college important is teh willingness of seeing ourselves as students even if we are a tenured professor. The distinct nature of college toastmasters is the possibility of a peer-to-peer network of students and this is why the added distinction of "Where Everybody is a Student" is a qualifier above and beyond "Where Leaders Are Made". This becomes an important shift in mindset.
At the student level, the emphasis of being a student is critically important because an emphasis on being leaders does very little to nudge or shift the political nature of academic institutions. Politics should be about political service and in leadership term, a form of servant leadership. Politics instead of serving the whole, is divided into constituency and this constituency changes the nature of any institution to an adversarial relationship rather than an educational relationship.
What "Where Everybody is a Student" does for a college toastmasters club is reinforce the oasis of leadership as an education, rather than leadership as a form of power. Outside of that oasis the challenges of politic actions are substantial, but within that oasis is the "safe space" that all Toastmasters clubs talk about. This means that if faculty, alumni or staff attend a campus club with the "Where Everybody is a Student" mandate, it returns those people to education, where everybody is a continuous learner. Without that mandate, a Toastmaster clubs becomes a mirror of the politics that surround it, rather than a safe space where leaders can be made.
If these leaders who are educated in this safe space move into politics, it is more likely to be in the spirit of servant leadership. That spirit of servant leadership is the only thing that can change politics as it is practiced today, to a renaissance of how politics should serve at all levels, whether it be healthy politics in an academic ecosystem, or transformational politics at wider levels of influence. At the level of a College Toastmaster club this is a cultivation of continuous learner mindsets ,geared towards leadership in a world that embraces and understands a whole system perspective - and that world can rightly be described as an evolution in leadership - which many people would describe as a renaissance in the making of the 21st Century. Given this mindset, that is a change that can evolve in the next 10 years.