Office of Campus Life hosts first leadership development event for Fall 2016

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Were you curious about the picture of Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift that was posted by the IIT Campus Life page on Facebook? Were you drawn towards the sound of Taylor Swift music coming from MTCC’s Executive Conference room last Thursday? You may be interested in learning about the new leadership activities that are happening this year.

Over the summer, Patrick Fina with the Office of Campus Life was tasked with “revamping the leadership program.” Because of this, Fina is kickstarting a series of leadership workshops that will use pop culture as a method to talk about what leadership is and what makes a good leader. Using real life examples will not only be more applicable to students’ lives but will provide the opportunity to talk about tough decisions that people such as celebrities have to make. The first leadership workshop of the year was on Thursday, September 8th. It yielded a surprising turnout of about 20 people and tasty sandwiches were provided for all.

At the beginning of the luncheon, Fina addressed us by asking who could define leadership in two seconds or less. None of us stepped up to the plate. Leadership is a hard concept to define, vague and indefinite, and Fina understood this. After letting individuals share their own opinions, Fina said that his own definition of leadership was “that feeling you get in your gut when you know you’re making a hard decision. Where you’re worried you might disappoint someone. Where you’re worried that you’re going to make the wrong choice. Or maybe you’re so nervous because you know you’re making the right choice, but it’s going to come with consequences.”

Speaking of consequences, we discussed how Taylor Swift learned about consequences over the summer. For those of you who don’t know--and care enough to learn--Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian (on behalf of her husband Kanye West) were recently involved in a heated feud over social media where Kardashian fans ignited the Twitter hashtag #KimExposedTaylorParty and Taylor released a single statement asking to be excluded from the drama.

Regardless of which celebrity was actually in the wrong, we discussed our opinions on who was acting like the “leader” in the situation throughout the lunch. After all, it is sometimes the leader’s job to step out of the drama and sometimes the leader’s job to step up to defend your family. In the end, the group decided that both Swift and Kardashian had acted as the leader in their own way.

We examined how our perception of a leader is shaped by the identities they hold. For example, both Swift and Kanye are artists; that’s why we’re paying attention in the first place. In addition, their racial backgrounds differ as well. There’s Taylor, a white, former country music artist from Nashville, Tennessee suburbs, and, according to Fina, “Kanye, who claims he is god, from the Southside of Chicago.” It was interesting to analyze how the identities that different leaders have can shape their actions.

The workshop as a whole was very enjoyable; the atmosphere in the conference room was warm and welcoming. All ideas were accepted and discussed. However, I was not well versed in the drama involving Swift and Kardashian beforehand and felt lost throughout parts of the discussion. Some aspects of the ordeal were explained, but it was assumed that the audience already knew a substantial chunk. So if you’re like me and aren’t a pop culture guru, brush up on your celebrity drama before attending the next leadership event.

Keep a lookout for other events like this one. The “Day of Be a Better You” will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 24. RSVP through HawkLink and you will be eligible to take a Strengthsquest, a tool that helps you identify where your natural skills lie. The next leadership luncheon will be on Thursday, October 13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event will involve the concept of vulnerability and discussion will be centered around Drake and Rihanna.