Tonight was our first all-campus discussion about leadership at Grinnell. As students came into Younker lounge, we asked them to write one sentence in response to each of the following questions:
1) How do you assert yourself as a leader?
2) Describe another leader on campus to whom you look up to…
Answers ranged between describing leadership styles (taking charge, organizing, collaborating, etc.) to specific labels for leaders on campus (Stonewall Resource Center, Technology Consultant Corps). One theme that emerged was “support” as an important characteristics of leaders on campus. To follow up on this, we asked students if they felt support to assert themselves as leaders in the community. While the unanimous consensus was “yes, we feel supported to assert ourselves as leaders,” later responses revealed “no, we do not feel supported to identify ourselves as leaders.”
There is a clear tension between engaging in campus and improving our community versus identifying yourself as a leader. Students agreed there is a stigma on campus against leadership titles, because it is too often conflated with resume building or insincerity.
Here are some notes from the larger discussion:
After forty minutes, students split up into groups to discuss the impostor syndrome, which we associated with the hesitancy to identify as a leader on campus. We also asked them to come up with solutions to the impostor syndrome in the classroom, residence hall, and extracurriculars. We are excited to post their brainstorming later…stay tuned…