Committee Involvement and Self-Development

July 28, 2023

Danyal Hakakzargar, Low Entropy Volunteer Writer


  • Critical Thinking

To reach more effective decisions, committees have a deliberative assembly that broadens the topic under consideration for committee members to investigate. Every committee member must use critical thinking as a tool to find, evaluate, and compare issues that frequently involve a variety of stakeholders and to come to wise judgements. If the problem at hand is viewed from a variety of angles, complex scenarios may result, forcing the committee to order its priorities according to perceived value. For instance, external and lobbying university committee members must understand the perceived value of a “tuition freeze” campaign for all stakeholders, including students, employees, and the institution. Hence, without critical thinking and considering the interests of stakeholders, the committee would not be able to reach a decision that is both beneficial and hedonistic. 

  • Decision-Making

Decision-making is arguably the most challenging task of committees, especially if the assembly consists of diverse internal viewpoints. Depending on the complexity, topics are evaluated over an extended period after thorough stakeholder analysis, rational decisions, and voting privileges granted to the committee. Hence, an efficient comparison of the benefits and drawbacks of each decision is necessary, followed by precedent decisions on related topics, and a thorough analysis of how the decision will affect future policies and regulations. For instance, members of the university health and safety committee must thoroughly review all applicable federal, provincial, and municipal health regulations before choosing between the primary and alternate action plans.

  • Individualism

Being a committee member requires one to practice working in groups and develop independence and self-reliance. Each member must independently do in-depth research, acquire data, and then share their conclusions with the other members while the subject is presented to the assembly as a whole. While not the most effective approach, it guarantees that each committee member is contributing to the overall goal of the group and is aware of the problem at hand. For instance, a university accessibility committee will frequently urge its members to go back to personal experiences where the university did not meet their accessibility needs, and then they will negotiate to change the rules to reflect these 

  • Teamwork

Committee members learn collaborative ethics, which are useful in real-world circumstances, in addition to individualistic skills. Members of this group must respect and acknowledge the different points of view held by other members while also challenging one another’s arguments. Maintaining clear and succinct communication while being open to criticism and willing to learn are requirements for teamwork. Clarifying tasks and responsibilities within the group eliminates confusion, prevents mismanagement, and internal conflicts, all of which are essential components of cooperation. For example,  university committees frequently assign one member to chair meetings (president), one to handle negotiations (vice president), four to five members at large to address student communications, and one to two members to manage budgeting and paperwork.

  • Leadership

As many events emerge and demand members of the committee to act immediately and control crises, leadership is a crucial ability needed as a committee member. Leadership is frequently thought of as having charisma and a rigid mentality, but it requires the ability to handle time and conflicts to keep the committee on track. While addressing the matter at hand, leaders must exhibit early recognition and awareness, integrity, and accountability, particularly in external communications between the committee and the university or other bodies. These abilities were frequently demonstrated during the pandemic, when schools cancelled classes and temporarily closed several buildings, limiting students’ access to resources and study areas. In these situations, members must take the initiative to plan meetings to examine the matter, obtain staff and student comments, and make reference to prior choices made in analogous situations.

  • Networking

Assemblies that meet and communicate with other entities about diverse topics make up committees. Being a committee member has many advantages, including the opportunity to network with other committee members or representatives of other organizations, which can create positive impressions and connections. Thus, committee members must take advantage of the opportunity to attend meetings, voice their thoughts, and get to know one another. When meeting with governmental or community representatives as well as other university committees, they should also inquire about career opportunities. For instance, university external and community affairs committees frequently host lobbying workshops and meet with government and community representatives to introduce their members to senior professionals with vast experience in a variety of fields.

Although committees have a wide range of missions and values, it is undeniable that they expose members to a variety of subjects and activities where fundamental life skills like critical thinking, teamwork, leadership, and networking are acquired. 

Danyal is a fourth-year criminology and business student at Simon Fraser University with a keen approach to business lawyering, authoring articles about various topics including self-development, education and conflicts.

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