AS Activities is taking a new approach this year to their annual week-long leadership conference. Coming to different campus locations Feb. 6 through 12 is Project Leadership, a revamp of the ACE Leadership Conference, which Western has hosted the previous three years.
AS Vice President for Activities Matt Jarrell chose to change the programs because it lowered costs and allowed AS Activities to involve other campus programs in the event.
“With Project Leadership, we can include a lot more programs on campus,” Jarrell said. “Hopefully we can give current students the chance to grow academically and personally.”
The week is packed with lunch sessions and evening events for students to learn more about what it means to be a leader in their community. According to Co-advisor to the Project Leadership Planning committee Kira Freed, being a leader doesn't have to involve huge feats, but it does require a person to be involved in their surroundings.
“Being a leader means different things to different people,” Freed said. “[To me], getting involved at all means being a leader.”
The week kicks off with a two-day leadership lock-in, a tradition from the ACE leadership conference. From 9 p.m. Friday Feb. 6 to 9 a.m. Saturday Feb. 7, students are invited to bring a sleeping bag and stay the night in the MAC gym, located in the Wade King Recreation Center. Inside, they'll find a relay race of leadership training activities, as well as a free T-shirt. The lock-in is the only event that will tap into your wallet; it costs $5.
“We wanted to keep some sort of overnight feel without forcing students to dedicate their whole weekend,” Jarrell said.
Following the weekend lock-in, the week will begin Monday with guest speaker Jesse Moore. Moore, a Western alum turned full-time Obama speech writer, will speak about his experiences on the campaign trail.
“He's a great example of someone who has moved on [from Western] to become very successful,” Freed said.
During each day at noon Feb. 9 through 12, lunch sessions will be held in different locations across campus, featuring workshops about different aspects of modern leadership, including communication styles, professional leadership and the five practices of leadership. Free pizza will be provided during these sessions.
Tuesday night at 8 p.m. in the MPR a panel featuring a mixture of student and faculty members will discuss racial developments stemming from the election of President Obama during “Yes We Can: The Call to Lead within Communities of Color.”
On the third day of the weekly conference, a special showing of “Ferngully: The Last Rainforest” and a discussion of environmental leadership at 7 p.m. VU 552 will take place, co-coordinated by the AS ROP Environmental Center.
The week culminates Thursday night at 6 p.m. with a dessert reception held in the Academic Instructional Center skybridge, called “Just Desserts.” In addition to the sweets, Vice President for Student Affairs and Academic Support Services Dr. Eileen Coughlin will speak about ways to get involved in community leadership opportunities around Western.
Freed hopes that the leadership skills students acquire at Western will carry through when they later find themselves in the workforce.
“Leadership development is an important part of the college experience,” Freed said. “These leadership skills are practical and applicable now, and [students] can take them into the future and use them later.”
The lessons learned at Project Leadership will also enable students to involve others in preserving and strengthening their community and ability to lead, Freed said.
Jarrell hopes to instill confidence in students that choose to participate. He hopes to make the concept of leadership less intimidating for all students.
“We're all leaders,” said Jarrell. “If we can get people to not be afraid of the word leadership, then we will have succeeded.”