Discuss Difference 2018


During the week of April 23-27, Student Leadership Development will be promoting the Discuss Difference initiative. We chose this week because it is also the National Week of Conversations sponsored by the Bridge Alliance Education Fund. Discuss Difference (and the National Week of Conversation) helps to promote the idea of having purposeful and civil conversations with peers.

What are socio-cultural conversations?

Socio-cultural conversations are formal or informal dialogues with peers about and across differences. Topics can include (but are not limited to) race/ethnicity, lifestyles, customs, social issues, political values, and religious beliefs.

 Why are socio-cultural conversations important?

Socio-cultural conversations with peers are the strongest predictor of socially responsible leadership capacity for students. Discussing differences impacts leadership development because these discussions require students to:

-Clarify and articulate their own perspectives

-Seek better understanding of others’ world view

-Understand how personal values fit into larger social structures and perspetives

-Discern how to work with different communities to initiate positive change

During these week, SLD will be promoting Discuss Difference on social media by sharing videos of staff and students sharing their ideas of how this idea presents itself at William and Mary. We will also be sharing events and opportunities happening around campus that give students the opportunity to learn more and talk with peers! Keep an eye out for more information on the blog this week and across our social media outlets.

National Week of Conversation


Mentoring Matters 2018

Over the next couple of weeks, Student Leadership Development will be sharing information about mentoring and why mentoring matters, especially on university campuses. Research has shown that mentoring relationships can greatly improve college student outcomes, including leadership development, success in college, and an overall feeling of support and well-being. For these reasons, SLD works to promote the idea of Mentoring Matters to William & Mary students in the Spring!

Why do we promote mentoring?

Research on college student success has shown that mentoring is important to student growth, especially in their leadership development. Jabaji, Komives, and Dugan highlighted this relationships between mentoring and leadership in Mentoring Relationships Matter in Developing Student Leadership (2008). They highlighted the Multi-Institutional Study of leadership, which discusses two main functions of mentoring relationships: career and psycho-social functions. The career function occurs due to the fact that mentoring relationships can help students prepare to succeed in the workforce through “sponsorship, exposure-visibility, coaching, protection, and challenging assignments” (Jabaji et al., 2008, p. 7) The psycho-social function of mentoring occurs when the mentee is supported and encouraged to succeed by their mentor. Given this, researchers who are invested in college student success encourage universities to promote the idea of Mentoring Matters in order to help students realize the benefits, reflect on their own mentoring relationships, or seek out mentors who will invest in their success.

The goal of Student Leadership Development and Mentoring Matters is to encourage William and Mary students to:

  • Reflect on their mentoring relationships
  • Thank their mentor for their support in their development
  • Understand both sides of a successful mentoring relationship
  • Learn how to seek out a mentoring relationship

Stay turned for Student Leadership Development’s upcoming blog post for more information on why and how Mentoring Matters for William and Mary students! We will also be sharing information on our Facebook and hope to see you there!


Elevating Your Personal Best: Strengths Edition

Register to participate in Elevating Your Personal Best: Strengths Edition by January 23 by 5pm! Elevating Your Personal Best: Strength Edition Registration

In Spring 2018, William and Mary Student Leadership Development encourages students to participate in Elevating Your Personal Best: Strengths Edition! This is a program designed to help student leaders know their strengths and understand how their strengths can be applied to their work and leadership practice. We would like to help explain the why behind Elevating Your Personal Best: Strengths Edition. William and Mary utilizes StrengthsQuest provided by Gallup that provides students the resources to discover their strengths and how to apply them. Gallup explains the concept of StrengthsQuest for helping college students get the most out of their work and education:

Gallup finds that just 39% of college grads are engaged at work. And only 11% are thriving in all five elements of their well-being.

So, how can [campus] leaders increase the value of the college experience for students?

You start by helping students discover their natural talents; then teach them how to develop their talents into strengths, and coach them to apply their strengths during their experiences on campus.

Student Leadership Development believes that self-reflection helps to foster effective leadership and engagement in all aspects of involvement and academics. Below is a video featuring Tom Matson, senior executive leadership strategist for Gallup Education, explaining how and why universities across the country utilize StrengthsQuest. SLD encourages you to participate in Elevating Your Personal Best: Strengths Edition yourself or share this blog post with William and Mary students or student groups who would like to know more!

Reflections on Leadership

Ann Marie Stock, Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs, shares below some insights on leadership, whether it be with or without a title. As Student Leadership Development concludes #NoTitleNeeded November, we would like to remind students that just because November is over, doesn’t mean the conversation should end. The importance of leadership and nonpositional leadership is overarching and continues to present itself in many facets of work and life.

Reflections on Leadership

The mention of “leadership” may fill our senses with:

  • The sound of a speech amplified by a microphone
  • The sight of long lists of awards and appearances and important job titles
  • The feel of a handshake with some famous person

What does leadership sound like, look like, feel like at W&M?

It need not sound loud, or involve a microphone. In fact, there might not be any sound, for it could be the act of listening—attentively—as my students have done while filming interviews and conversing with our Cuban collaborators.

It need not look CV-worthy. In fact, most often it doesn’t even get noticed—a gesture of affirmation, an offer to assist—as my students demonstrate when they take risks together to learn new skills in media-making or work with materials in an unfamiliar language.

It need not feel like that celebrity handshake. It’s a different kind of touch that matters—one emanating from gratitude and solidarity.  It’s being touched by the overtures of others—as when we were honored with the privilege of being the first U.S. university group to visit a media organization in Cuba, and it’s touching back—as with our parting gesture of singing for our hosts the Alma Mater.

Our Vision Statement asserts that: “People come to W&M wanting to change the world. And together we do.” How do we go about that?

We move away from the mic—and listen;

We stop looking at titles and awards and see instead opportunities to support and affirm;

We seek to touch not the hand of “important” people, but rather the lives of those around us.

That’s how we lead, and that’s how we change the world.

-Ann Marie Stock

#NoTitleNeeded Leadership Spotlight: Sam Ryan

In this post, senior Sam Ryan tells us what No Title Needed means to her and how it has guided her leadership experience here at William and Mary.

#NoTitleNeeded means leadership isn’t reserved to the extroverted and popular. It means caring about your involvements and not just looking for resume fillers. It means great leadership isn’t only practiced from titled positions. I’ve held my fair share of titled leadership positions throughout high school and in college, but some of the most rewarding leadership experiences I’ve had haven’t been in titled positions. This past year, I’ve become very involved in Church activities both on and off campus and that’s primarily because I love it! Passion is a great motivator for good leadership. I’ve found myself taking on more responsibilities and being a leader among my peers despite not having an official leadership role. I’ve also found more enjoyment in organizations where I have genuine passion, even when I don’t have a leadership position! Everyone has great capacity for leadership. By finding your passion, being dedicated, and volunteering your time, anyone can be a great leader—title or not!

#NoTitleNeeded Leadership Spotlight Sarah Lucas


Student Leadership Development wants to recognize Sarah Lucas, a senior who practices leadership without a title in choir. Thanks for sharing your inspiring words and telling others how you practice #NoTitleNeeded!

“Titles are just a formality, but contribution is tangible. When I first came to William & Mary, the organization fair was to say the least, overwhelming. There were so many older and experienced students jumping at me left and right trying to get me to follow them. I had spent the whole summer wondering what was the quality that makes  William & Mary student a William & Mary student, and during orientation, it seemed that everyone else around me was looking for the answer, too. I got my answer at the fair: everyone here has the capacity and desire to lead. It’s something that comes naturally to us. After realizing this, my new conundrum was this: how can I lead in a place where everyone else is a leader too?

     Like anyone else, I found an organization where I felt that I fit in well–choir. I loved choir, and I still do. I really looked up to the officers and wanted to lead like them from an executive position, but as a freshman that was out of the question. So I found another way to be involved. I spent the whole year participating in all of the choir’s events, even the voluntary ones. I woke up early and gave up a weekend or two to help decorate our homecoming float, carried boxes of programs to concert venues, and even willingly helped assemble and disassemble the risers. I did those things because I loved to help, and helping made things run more smoothly. In reflection, I might not have had a title that authorized me to delegate responsibility, but I was leading. I was doing more than doing nothing, and I could see what my work directly impacted. And although the fruit of the choir’s labor may just be smiles on the faces of the audience, that’s all the motivation I need, no title needed.”

#NoTitleNeeded November 2017

NoTitleNeeded Oval Sticker

It is that time of year again when Student Leadership Development promotes #NoTitleNeeded! Throughout the month of November, SLD recognizes those who practice leadership without a title and encourage others to adopt a mindset from a non-positional leadership standpoint.

This campus-wide campaign is designed to showcase and celebrate our leaders that embody the idea that leadership takes no positional title or authority.

We encourage organizations across campus to discuss this idea and encourage their members to lead, even without a title. Thank your members for their leadership and hard work! We really want to promote the idea that the titled leaders of an organization, such as the President, do not hold the only power to practice leadership. It is so important for non-positional members to have their voice heard in meetings and during events.

SLD will be working to share this idea across campus and we invite you to join us! We will be tabling outside of Swem and in the Sadler Lobby throughout November. Come see us to pick up #NoTitleNeeded swag and share with us how you practice leadership without a title. Participants will be featured on our social media and have a chance to share their leadership journey to encourage others. SLD will also be sharing blog posts from campus professionals discussing the topic and sharing advice with students

Here is our current tabling schedule, more dates may be added so keep and eye out for that. Come get some swag and tell us how you practice #NoTitleNeeded

Wednesday 11/8 1-3pm outside of Swem
Wednesday 11/15 1-3pm outside of Swem
Friday 11/17 12:30-2pm Sadler Lobby
Monday 11/20 1-2pm Sadler Lobby
Wednesday 11/29 1-3pm Sadler Lobby
We hope to see you all there! Follow our social media for more information about this campaign.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wmstudentleadership/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wmleads/?hl=en
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WMLeads

Finding Your Path to Meaningful Involvement

Leaders are moved by what they care about to make the world a better place.” – Student Leadership Development

Last week, we discussed the importance of involvement to the college experience and finding meaning throughout the lifespan. As the Office of Student Leadership Development gears up for our Depth Over Breadth campaign, we will take this opportunity to introduce how to discover a path to meaningful involvement and why we encourage depth of involvement over breadth of involvement.

Here at William and Mary, we have over 450 different recognized student organizations. Looking through the directory of these organizations can feel overwhelming when you want to become involved, but have not yet decided where to become involved. In order to discover a path towards involvement that is right for you, it is helpful to first reflect. This can come in the form of asking yourself some questions such as:

  • What am I passionate about?
  • Do I have career and professional goals I would like to begin working towards?
  • What are some societal issues I feel strongly about helping to improve?
  • What activities, sports, or hobbies do I enjoy doing in my free time?

Asking yourself these questions is a great start towards becoming involved in organizations with a mission you truly care about and feel connected to. Here in SLD, we call this mission alignment “the why.” When you feel passionate about an organization or cause, you are more likely to follow through and become deeply involved. W&M’s hundreds of student organizations cover a wide range of interest categories including those such as religion, culture, social justice, sports, professional development, hobbies, and community service working with children, the elderly, and the environment. With so many options, students are bound to discover organizations with missions they care deeply about. Studies have found that this “deep” involvement in causes fosters more meaningful leadership development compared with involvement in a breadth of organizations. Do you see where I’m going with this????


Student Leadership Development is committed to promoting that deeper involvement fosters more meaningful development and leadership than participation in a breadth of organizations. In next week’s blog post, we will officially introduce and discuss Depth Over Breadth and how it relates to student involvement, leadership, and why Student Leadership Development is so passionate about promoting this message to our students.

Know someone who exhibits Depth Over Breadth? Nominate them here to be in the #LeadershipSpotlight social media and blog posts. http://forms.wm.edu/28070



Student Involvement on Campus: Does it really matter?

Spoiler Alert: It does matter!!!

With the start of a new school year comes many questions and curiosities about involvement. Some students wonder how to get involved, some ask if involvement really matters, and some want to get involved but are simply overwhelmed by the thought of adding another activity on top of busy class schedules. It has been a week since the Student Organizations and Activities Fair, so many students are beginning to think about what this year at William and Mary holds and what organizations they plan to become involved with. The purpose of this blog post will be to highlight the many benefits of involvement on campus and show you that it really does matter!

Student involvement is often a major component leading to college student satisfaction and development. First, let’s breakdown what I am referring to when I discuss “involvement.” Alexander Astin (1984), a leader in research on college student satisfaction, defines involvement simply as the quality and quantity of energy devoted to the academic experience. According to him, a “highly involved student” spends considerable energy studying, actively participates in student organization[s], and frequently interacts with faculty and fellow students. For the purpose of this blog post, I will narrow the scope of involvement to active participation in student organizations, with the assumption that students who do this also spend a considerable amount of time studying and interacting with peers and faculty.

Positive outcomes from becoming involved at William and Mary:

  • Increased academic development

Becoming involved outside of the classroom has been shown to increase students’ general knowledge, critical thinking ability, analytical ability, and problem-solving skills (Astin, 1993). The college classroom can teach you a wealth of knowledge, however, being able to develop critical thinking skills and applying knowledge outside of the classroom is important in bridging the gap between college student and active professional! Involvement on campus has also been correlated with higher GPAs among college students.

  • Increased interpersonal development

Joining student organizations allows students to meet people outside of their classes or program of study! Meeting and working with peers outside of the classroom helps to build interpersonal relationships. You might even meet some of your best friends in a student organization!

  • Increased college experience satisfaction

Becoming involved on campus allows students to feel more connected to campus and resources! Involvement also increases a student’s sense of belonging. William and Mary has so many offices, resources, and people ready and willing to help. Becoming involved on campus connects you to more people who have been in your shoes before and want to support you and help you succeed!

  • Find MEANING!

Involvement in an organization related to something you have a passion for increases a student’s sense of finding meaning in college and in life. Not to get too deep here, but there has been extensive research on finding meaning in life and how everyday activities can contribute to establishing purpose. Many psychologists have found that participating in something bigger than yourself (in this case a student organization) or helping others through community service increases one’s overall sense of purpose and meaning. Joining a student organization can help you discover your passion and become involved in issues you care about.

And on top of all those reasons, being involved is FUN!

Hopefully those reasons were enough to convince you that becoming involved at William and Mary is the right choice for you! Visit TribeLink to discover the 250+ student organizations and get involved in something that is important to you.

Stay tuned for our next post on how to discover student organizations that are right for you!

Astin, A. W. (1984). Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of college student personnel25(4), 297-308.

Astin, A. W. (1993). What matters in college: Four critical years revisited. San Francisco.
Foubert, J. D., & Urbanski, L. A. (2006). Effects of involvement in clubs and organizations on the psychosocial development of first-year and senior college students. NASPA journal43(1), 166-182.


Conversations Across Differences

People in various spaces across the world with a range of platforms are grappling with what best practices to have difficult conversations across differences. There are experts like Heather McGhee, President of Demos who will host a talk later today titled, “How to talk to people who offend you” via the TED2017 conference. Discussions across difference benefit you because it allows you to be outside of your comfort zone. One reason why the Office of Student Leadership Development dipped our toes in the waters of encouraging conversations across difference is we recognize how important these conversations are for college leaders who are moved by what they care about to make the world a better place.

In a 2016 interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education, President of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, Lynn Pasquerella stated, “So in a world that is increasingly globally interdependent, and where rapidly changing technology means rapid obsolescence, the best that we can offer students today is the capacity to work with others who are different from themselves in diverse teams. And to be adaptable and flexible in a world where the jobs of the future have not yet been invented.” One way that you can work with others who are different is through healthy communication. As you wrap up the semester and prepare for finals season, consider the ways that you can have healthy conversations across socio-cultural differences with members of the William & Mary community.

If you’re wondering where to access the Discuss Difference podcast, click on the hyper link embedded in the text.

Episode 1– An Introduction to Discuss Difference with Anne Arseneau, Director of the Office of Student Leadership Development and Melody Porter, Director of Office of Community Engagement

Episode 2- Discuss Difference: An Introduction to the Chat & Chew Series featuring Shené Owens, Assistant Director of the Center for Student Diversity

Episode 3- Discuss Difference: A Conversation with Dr. Jaime Settle, Assistant Professor of Government at William & Mary