Last Friday, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) held a Leadership Conference in the University Tower Ballroom from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
“The leadership conference was aimed to help students engage more on campus,” according to the USG Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Clara Pineda. “We were trying to answer student’s questions regarding how you can succeed in college and other issues.”
Although the event was initially aimed at senate members of the USG, it was later opened to anyone on campus, which according to Pineda was “because it was something all students could benefit from.”
Keynote speaker IU Vice President for Student Success Dr. Julie Payne-Kirchmeier spoke about developing leadership skills. Payne-Kirchmeier used the acronym G.I.F.T (grace/gratitude, integrity, failure, tenacity) to illustrate the different aspects of being and learning to become a good leader.
Grace and gratitude, according to Payne-Kirchmeier, illustrate “how we treat ourselves and those around us, while integrity is “something we should expect from ourselves and those we work with.” She suggested that while students may fail, they should do so with the intention of learning and moving forward, and that students should be tenacious in everything they do.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Eric Weldy and Assistant Dean of Students and Director, Student and Family Connections Tonya Hall were also scheduled to speak at this event on a Division of Student Affairs (DOSA) speaker panel.
There were also two breakout sessions. The first was with Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) and the Office of Student Advocacy and Support (OSAS), while the second was with the Office of Health and Wellness and the Office of Sustainability.
Throughout the event, various campus organizations gave presentations about the resources they provide, including the Multimedia Production Center (MPC) and Social Justice Scholars (SJS).
SJS did a mock Pass the Mic session for the event which allowed attendees to give their opinions and experiences on social justice related topics. Pass the Mic is one of a few different events SJS holds throughout the year to promote discussion of social justice issues on campus.
“We wanted to have that activity so students could engage more with diversity and inclusion because I feel like it’s very hard for some people, because they feel like they don’t belong or they don’t have the space to talk,” Pineda said. “I want to encourage more students to work with me or work with USG to help everyone feel welcome.”
As an international student herself, Pineda knows the struggle of trying to fit in with new cultures and sees this conference as the first step to creating a more inclusive community at IUPUI.
“I’m an international student, and it was hard to adjust to a new culture. I feel like students have to know that IUPUI is very diverse and, when other students are not feeling as comfortable, we have to help them feel better and just do more activities that engage everyone,” Pineda said. “I think the Leadership Conference was just the first step to allow students to talk about how they feel, then create action.”
Amongst other activities hosted by USG, Pineda is working on her own event to be hosted in Nov.
“This is an initiative to invite all cultural organizations to have an event like a dinner. I I know that students tend to only talk to people that are part of their communities, but it would be good if you can gather all of these people from different cultures to talk about, mainly suggest what we can do to include everyone,” Pineda said.
USG will resume their regular Senate meeting on Oct. 14 from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. in Business/SPEA Building (BS) 2000. These meetings are open to all IUPUI students.
Students interested with suggestions or who are interested in getting involved in USG can submit a contact form on their website or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Abigail Godsen (she/her) is a freshman majoring in Communication Studies. She is a campus reporter for The Campus Citizen.