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University kicks off student leadership initiative

Office of Dean of Students, student organizations begin new project to facilitate co-sponsorship, discussion among groups across Grounds

Student leaders from various organizations across Grounds met last night at dinner to announce the Cross-Cultural Leadership Initiative, a new program launched by the Office of the Dean of Students.

The initiative is co-sponsored by Student Council, the Minority Rights Coalition, the Honor Committee, the Office of Diversity and Equity, the Vice President for Student Affairs, the Latino Student Alliance and the Middle Eastern Leadership Council.

Student Council Vice President Colin Hood, who worked closely with the Office of the Dean of Students and other organizations to solidify the foundations of the initiative, said the new project is similar to the contracted independent organization leadership project Student Council announced recently.

"This one has more of a focus toward cultural programming," Hood said. "The focus is on bringing these people together to network, to have new conversations ... to maybe ignite some new ideas that haven't been talked about before."

At last night's dinner, student leaders focused on co-sponsorship of events between organizations, among other topics.

Ronald Barba of the Minority Rights Advocacy Coalition said his organization co-sponsored the initiative to help organizations concerned about the treatment of minority students work not only with each other, but also with organizations outside the University community.

"There are so many program opportunities that are available if organizations within the minority community and beyond work together on certain things," he said.

Middle Eastern Leadership Council Chair Heba Tellawi, meanwhile, said she hopes the initiative will help to get members of her organization more involved with other organizations on Grounds in which they do not typically participate.

"It's not just [that] we benefit," she said. "It's a two way street. We're hoping to get more Middle Easterners involved in those organizations, as well as promote awareness about the issues that we face."

Hood noted that in addition to co-sponsorship, the initiative is meant to foster more diverse programming.

"Co-sponsoring events has many benefits," he said, noting that increased staffing and funding options are among the most prominent positives potentially engendered as a result of the new initiative. "However, I think the most important ones are benefits like diverse programming"

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