Eastern Michigan University’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hosted a leadership symposium Monday evening in Student Center room 300, titled “Leadership Redefined: Advancing Youth Empowerment.” Participating organizations were the Poetry Society, Mentor2Youth and sororities Sigma Gamma Rho and Alpha Kappa Alpha.
“We are trying to inform everyone on campus of the resources available to them,” NAACP treasurer and executive board member Chris Ball said. “We get asked all the time ‘Where can I go to volunteer, where can I go to mentor someone?’ so the purpose of meeting tonight is to bring in people who have the answers to those questions and expose them to each other.”
Ball said that the NAACP would be hosting events throughout February in honor of Black History Month, but Monday’s event was specifically tailored to student leaders on campus.
The symposium was set up in a round table format where questions regarding how to become a more effective leader were proposed and debated.
“A leader is not just something you can put on a resume,” Darius Simpson, president of the Poetry Society, said. “People see organizations as a way to get a leg up…if you don’t care about what you get involved in it reflects poorly on your work and sullies your reputation.”
The conference took the time for self-reflection, with each person pointing out mistakes they may have personally made and what they could do to correct them.
“Before you can lead someone else you have to be a leader in your own life,” Giovanteey Bishop of Alpha Kappa Alpha said.
The dangers of social media, campus parties and public perception were also addressed.
“As student leaders you are always expected to conduct yourself in a higher standard in the public eye; being a leader doesn’t end when you leave Eastern Michigan University’s campus,” NAACP
President Nathaneil Winston said. “In today’s day and age no one is out of the public eye, thus as a student leader we understand the standards and expectations put upon ourselves when we step into the position. Though we are young, there is still a level of professionalism one displays outside the workplace.”
Winston summed up the bigger purpose of the night by addressing the student leadership’s ultimate goal of better serving their student body constituents.
“Seeking out students before they fail and guiding them in the right direction does seem, to many, a visionary objective, but it is our goal nonetheless,” Winston said. “In efforts to improve retention and graduation rates, we as student leaders emphasize academic support groups that are offered on campus, as well as directing students to programming offices and student groups that foster a sense of community and purpose for students of color.”
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