A new emphasis is being placed on an "old program" that will hopefully more closely meet the needs of college students who are members of the Church.
According to Rex Williams, newly called director of the LDS Student Association, which has been in existence since 1967, few changes are being made in the organization."We are really just re-emphasizing some things," he explained, as he talked about the role LDSSA will play in coordinating all the Church student organizations on college campuses that have LDS members.
"LDSSA is actually the priesthood functioning from the Melchizedek Priesthood Committee to the campus priesthood leader to the student," Williams added.
"We will be working closely with Sigma Gamma Chi and Lambda Delta Sigma, the Church fraternity and sorority, as well as with the institute programs and classes and campus wards and branches," he said. The student association is the "umbrella association" under which these other student groups operate, Williams explained.
"LDSSA is the actual official organization on the campuses," he said. "The constitution is filed with the campus administration and LDSSA becomes the officially recognized campus association."
The goals of LDSSA are basic, Williams said. First, it strives to help all Church college students stay closely affiliated with the Church, succeed in their studies and achieve a balanced life while on campus.
Second, leaders correlate Church-related activities on campuses under an appointed priesthood leader, usually a stake president.
Third, the association motivates students to become a powerful influence for good on the college campus.
One change that has occurred over the last few months was the creation of a new LDSSA board - consisting of Church Educational System zone administrators Frank Bradshaw and Bruce Lake, Sigma Gamma Chi national president Randall Romrell and Lambda Delta Sigma national president Patricia Romney. Board members will work closely with Williams and Elder Paul H. Dunn, LDSSA managing director, to decide how best to achieve these goals.
Another change will be the discontinuing of national conventions, Williams said. "Instead, we'll be holding conventions on a regional level so that more people can become involved." Already plans are being made for conventions in Montana, California, Colorado and Arizona.
A survey has also been sent out to the approximately 1,300 institutes of religion worldwide to determine the extent and effectiveness of LDSSA at the present time, said Williams. In addition, he plans on visiting college campuses to learn more about how the Church's student organizations can help each student.
"We operate on the principle of striving to reach and assist each student through priesthood direction and correlation, individual student involvement and flexibility to meet local needs," he said. "It's the individual student that really counts."