"You already have the skills" for community building and advocacy, Drwencke tells student leaders

Institute executive director Justin Drwencke addressed student leaders from around the Great Lakes region in East Lansing earlier this month, keynoting an annual gathering of the Great Lakes Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls' (GLACURH).

Drwencke grounded their remarks in the rich tradition of student leaders building community, advocating, and creating change—with a very local connection as proof positive of the power of student activism. On screen before conference-goers, they projected a photo of a 1972 newspaper with the headline, "Oops, E. Lansing first with hiring law." The article went on to highlight how the Midwest town—the same place attendees were being hosted—beat out known liberal havens like San Francisco to first extend legal protections and rights to gay people thanks to organizing and lobbying from the Gay Liberation Movement, a student organization at Michigan State University.

Drwencke implored attendees to see in new ways how, by using their skills for community building as advocacy, they can make change within and beyond their individual schools right now, while they are still students. They also introduced the Institute's "Community Capacity Advocacy Framework," which is used to help assess the nonprofit organization's partnerships and projects.

GLACURH is a regional affiliate of the National Association of College and University Residence Halls and dedicated to the exchange of information to improve campus climate and develop strong leaders. Its annual Spring Leadership Conference was held at East Lansing's Kellogg Center from March 8-10, 2024.

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