Yale expands student leadership training

This fall, Yale has expanded mandatory leadership training for directors of student organizations to offer more sessions on a greater variety of topics.

This year’s workshops, which began last week, boast titles such as “Financial Essentials for Student Organizations,” “Tweeting, Tumbling, Pinning and Posting: The Perks and Perils of Using Social Media to Spread Your Organization’s Message” and “No Organization is an Island: Leveraging and Mastering Collaboration.” Though the sessions are open to all students, registered student organizations are required to send at least three representatives to a workshop, and organizations that either host events or hold initiations for their members must attend two specific workshops on event planning and hazing. The workshops, which all take place in the Swing Space Activity Room, are led by deans, directors and fellows of the Office of Student Affairs.

“The workshops [on hazing and hosting events] are part of a broader effort to promote a respectful, safe campus climate,” Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry said in a Sept. 27 email to presidents and treasurers of student organizations. “On a practical level, they are designed to help you host your events successfully, particularly with an eye toward welcoming your newest members and keeping everyone safe.”

Gentry said in a Thursday email to the News that similar workshops have been held in previous years. But he added that students requested that this year’s workshops be expanded in scope to include “many more topics relevant to a wider array of student organizations.”

Students can pick from several time slots for the workshops on hazing and hosting events, Gentry said.

“We [made] available many workshops with smaller enrollments, so there can be more opportunities for students to ask questions,” he said.

Gentry and Yale College Dean Mary Miller first announced this year’s workshops in an Aug. 31 email to the student body. Though the workshops are targeted specifically for junior and senior representatives from student organizations, they are also available to freshmen and sophomores.

The workshops are also designed to give leaders tools and resources to help them manage their responsibilities.

Interest in these workshops has been generally low among the undergraduate student body. Of 31 students interviewed, only one had already attended a leadership workshop so far. Seven students said they were interested in attending the workshops, and three said they planned to attend not out of interest but because they are required to as student leaders. The remainder said that they were not interested in the workshops and had no plans to sign up for them.

Juliet Ryan ’16 said she attended one of the hazing workshops as a representative of United Against Infectious Diseases, an undergraduate non-governmental organization.

Ryan said the session was “not very helpful,” especially because her club does not hold initiations.

Juli Cho ’15 said the event planning workshop was interesting at first, but she added that the last 30 minutes of the session, during which the group discussed alcohol,“felt too staged.”

Still, she said the emphasis on alcohol and safety “made sense from an administrative viewpoint.”

Gentry said workshop facilitators have reported that sessions have been productive.

“Student participants have been attentive and have asked good questions,” he said.

Miller could not be reached for comment.

There are 44 registered undergraduate arts organizations within Yale College.

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