The Dot Org – Go With the Flow, Stop Menstrual Stigmas

With our grant money, we focused on a manageable goal for our greater project idea, and hosted a publicity event titled ‘The Period Party’. At this event, we spread the word of our soon to be established organization over the course of two days in the hall of Mason Hall. The event occurred on November 27th and 28th, and occured from 4-6 on both days. During this event, we distributed 500 stickers/small flyers, 100 cupcakes, and many bags of candies. Then, we started conversations with the students and teachers who wanted the food and stickers. We answered a lot of questions about the reality of the menstrual stigma, and had interesting conversations with students and teachers who were mostly supportive of our cause. This event was important to further our success, because it spread awareness of an issue that many do not understand or care about. Through these conversations, we ended up getting contact information from about 20 people interested in joining our cause, as well as many follows and likes on our social media pages. The food and decorations we bought with the grant money was what attracted people to our area in the hall, and allowed us to start conversations about our issue.

dotorgcupcakesOut of all the BLI habits existing, the ones we used the most were ‘Start Small’, ‘Engage the World’, and ‘Expect Challenges’. ‘Start Small’ influenced how we began defining how our team could succeed by the end of Leadership Lab. We recognized that we needed to start with smaller goals to accomplish, instead of big ones. The Period Party event was a tangible goal for Leadership Lab, and was a great way to start conversations on campus about the problem we address as well as the existence of our group. The second habit we used was ‘Engage the World.’ We contacted representatives from other student groups such as the American Association of University Women and Greek Life as well as our peers and asked for feedback on whether people would be willing to contribute to our cause in the future, and also if people supported our cause in general.

dotorglogoOur Period Party event allowed us to engage with students and professors and discuss the issue and how we plan to make a change with our organization. The third habit we used was ‘Expect Challenges’. In general, we always created a backup plan in case our ideal goals were not possible. We knew it would be hard to successfully plan and complete a drive before the end of the BLI section, but we had our Period Party publicity event as a backup idea. As a group, we learned the importance of creating alternate strategies.

By: Marisela Angulo, Justine Burt, Mallory Dementer, Gabby Morin, and Nina Serr

Bridging the Gap

On Friday, December 1st, our group hosted Bridging the Gap — a night of discussion, pizza, and puzzles. We intended to have a discussion with 30 people, talking about events and working on puzzles. We hoped to work with more stakeholders and to reach out to conflicting groups on campus to get diversity of opinion in participants. Due to time constraints, we were unable to collaborate with most of these groups. However, we do feel that the event was a success. Although we did not have 30 people attend, the fourteen who did enjoyed the event and said they would be interested in attending a similar event in the future.

bridgethegapdiscussionThe three BLI values that were essential to our project were Value Difference, Always Ask, and Collect, Combine, Create. Valuing difference was the driving force and focus of the initiative. Every participant and facilitator brought different opinions and experiences to the table, and we learned from those differences. One of the phrases within the Value Difference habit is “let discomfort inspire,” which is what we strived for in our project. We also asked existing groups on campus to learn from what they had to offer. Some of our original plans already existed on campus, so we wanted to learn more about how to create a unique but salient event for students. In this way, Always Ask was a byproduct, as we learned to ask for feedback and gained experience creating a new project on campus. We discovered that our first set of ideas were fairly similar to the work that other groups are doing on campus, such as We Listen. Programs like Intergroup Relations have a similar focus in that they try to encourage dialogue between those with different life experiences who may not see eye-to-eye. We collected the gist of their work and combined them with our own ideas for creation.

Bridge the Gap LogoThe challenge we faced was reaching out to stakeholders and participants. We contacted stakeholders on multiple occasions, but only one responded. They were unable to assist us because of a more pressing matter. We managed because the team remained flexible. We also focused on bringing people from our own circles rather than the general U-M community to ensure participants showed up. Of course the event remained open to the general public, but the direct invites are what proved successful.

bridgethegapteamOur group works well together, and we are respectful of each other’s opinions and differences. The biggest issue we would want to address moving forward is availability and responsiveness to meetings outside of class. Each person in our group was busy during the weeks of the Leadership Lab, which made it difficult to schedule meetings that each member could attend. Sometimes when we had meetings scheduled, we ended up not being able to meet due to other commitments. Prioritizing meetings and working on better communication would be significant changes that would need to be made to improve the success and functionality of this group going forward.

Some lessons that we learned include that planning an event takes longer than expected. It is important to advertise an event on campus and to plan ahead in order to do so. We should have applied to the BLI small grant earlier, in order to receive funds early enough to make flyers and put them up around campus. We evaluated the success of our project via the number of attendees, the organization of the event, as well as the flow of dialogue. All of these variables were exceptional, and overall the event went well. The number of attendees was perfect for our first event, but from here on we hope to reach larger numbers and connect with other groups with different mindsets.

By: Meredith Days, Max Grahl, Noah McNeal, Camron Razdar, and Josiah Walker


On Thursday, November 30th, our project group SustainabiliTEAM created a successful tabling event that educated people on simple, easy ways to be more environmentally sustainable in their daily life. This event also produced a visual representation of the impact the event had on the campus community with the SustainabiliTREE. So, we ended up accomplishing what we set out to do. The event accomplished the central goals we originally set: educating and promoting sustainable habits on campus. The way that we ended up fulfilling these goals, however, was completely different to the original vision. Our original vision was to create a video educating students on simple environmentally sustainable habits. This video never got past the planning stage, as we quickly realized it was an unrealistic goalª and, we scaled down our project to a tabling event that produced the same results we expected from the video.

Three BLI Leadership Habits that were essential to our project include Start Where You Are, Collect, Combine, Create, and Start Small.

  • Start Where You Are: Where we were in the beginning of the course and the connections we had, it just wasn’t feasible for our video. We found that the resources we had could be the start of an event or smaller project, and began to formulate that instead.
  • Collect, Combine, Create: We all came into this project with a lot of new ideas and different backgrounds. All of our strengths came together to formulate this project, and we were able to work through each other’s weaknesses. Our project was successful.
  • Start Small: We had started with a huge goal of implementing a sustainability video on campus. This was unrealistic for our time. So we scrapped this idea and started small, with a more realistic goal that could be accomplished.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 12.14.21 PMThe most important challenge our team faced was coming up with a realistic plan that would still fulfill our goal in educating students on how to be more environmentally sustainable on and off campus. We started off with an unrealistic goal in mind, but through feedback from others, self-reflection, and group discussion, we formed a cohesive achievable target that satisfied the bottom line we set while including unique aspects. With our collected ideas and rational thinking, our tabling event went smoothly and fast-paced as anticipated.

We had a positive group dynamic. Our team worked well together and ran into few internal complications. We met every Sunday to discuss our progress and what steps need to be taken. We had additional weekly gatherings as needed. For example, members of our team met to speak to stakeholders and make posters during times outside weekly meetings. The most significant change we could make to improve effectiveness would be devoting more individual time on the project outside of these meetings. We were all effective when working together, but if we could have completed more of the tasks on our own time, which would have left more room for productivity and growth during our group meetings.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 12.14.31 PMWe had a few setbacks in the planning stage of our project. After getting told that our initial idea would likely not work we did not know what to do. We had to change our idea quickly because time kept moving even though we did not want it to. When we came up with the idea of a tabling event in Mason Hall, we knew that we had hit a good idea. I think that we learned about flexibility and how to get up after you knocked down. We evaluated the success of our project through how many paint chips we had on the tree and how quickly we ran out of doughnuts. The next steps for our team is to continue utilizing all that we have learned about leadership and working in groups in our everyday lives. This lab has served as a valuable stepping stone for each of us to learn effective leadership strategies while practicing them in our everyday lives. As for our project, we successfully created an awesome educational project that we will continue to promote. Sustainability is a very important topic, and with our knowledge on the subject we will be able to teach the importance of it to others.

By: Olivia Chan, Laci Duvernois, Allyssa Garza, Charles Jones III, Katie Kubityskey, and Maddie Topping

American Anthropological Association Annual Conference – Anthropology Matters in Washington D.C.

I took this trip alone to attend the AAA conference for the year as an undergraduate majoring in anthropology and women’s studies. Although I was not one of the many that presented at the conference, I believed that I should take this trip to learn more about where anthropological current efforts have been allocated. I was interested in the intersections of my many interests and to see how they play out in what is happening in anthropology currently. I have been interested in attending this conference since my freshman year, but I did not believe that I have the resources to be able to go. I have decided that I have wanted to go to graduate school in anthropology, therefore, I went ahead and tried my best to make attending this conference a possibility. While in D.C., I was able to attend numerous panels and roundtables that were of interest to me. One of my favorite memories while was that I could meet anthropologists and scholars whose work I have been learning about during my undergraduate career.

This conference was a means for me to network and also to see how diverse the work of anthropologists could be. Initially, one of my interests entering anthropology was archeology but gradually I found myself gravitating more towards sociocultural anthropology, as I was not familiar with people or professors that try to balance the two other than a select few. However, at this conference, I had the opportunity to sit on a panel that discussed the remains of enslaved Africans and contest burial grounds for indigenous peoples which allowed me to see the intersections of sociocultural anthropology and archaeology, and the possibility of archaeological justice or ensuring reparations even hundreds of years after. One of the greatest things about AAA is that I had to take a flight for 50 minutes and there I was in D.C. whereas others had to come in internationally, from countries such as China, Australia, Denmark, UAE, etc., which was a powerful thing for me to learn as an undergraduate as someone who values the importance of the field. To see people comes from so many different places and teach about their work and learn from what others are working on. I look forward to attending this conference next year in California, and writing more about it then.


By: Iman Ali

Next Generation Ovarian Cancer Alliance – Ovary Fun Night

Next Gen is a student organization on campus. Through campus involvement, Next Gen will work to raise awareness and educate people on the University of Michigan’s campus about ovarian cancer. This is exactly what we did during our event, Ovary Fun Night. Going into the night, we were not sure what exactly to expect. We were hoping for an enthusiastic crowd to listen and share each others’ stories and relations to ovarian cancer. Reflecting on the night, we got much more than that. People came to support others, people came to enjoy the humor, and people came to learn about ovarian cancer. More people attended the event than we were expecting and more money was raised than we were aiming for. Guests walked away with full stomachs, arms full of raffle prizes, and minds set on helping find a diagnostic test for ovarian cancer.Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 11.57.46 AM
We did not encounter a challenge, more of a few obstacles. One example being, we did not coordinate someone to create our centerpieces until the week of. Luckily, we were able to find someone to do that last minute. This was the first big event my board and I had ever put on. With this fact in mind our event went amazingly well. We were very happy and proud of all the outcomes. We hope to continue to have this event every year. We believe we can continue to improve and grow the event each year. We are already thinking of ways to improve the event in the future.
Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 11.57.01 AMWe are very grateful for the help that the Barger Leadership Institute provided in putting on a successful event for an organization that we began only a couple of years ago. We plan to continue working hard to spread awareness of ovarian cancer throughout our time at the University and will pass the organization on to others when we leave. This was our first big event and still preliminary steps to advocating for ovarian cancer awareness. But just like many other issues in life, each small step gets you closer to the end goal.


By: Aly Dahlmann

Crunch Time Cooking Initiative

On December 1st, our group successfully launched our first event as the Crunch Time Cooking Team. We have been working the past few weeks in the Leadership Lab provided by the Barger Leadership Institute on a pertinent issue on campus we’d like to address through an advocacy project. Our group decided to tackle off-campus dining as this is a concern of many students who struggle with cooking and choosing healthy options while juggling all of the responsibilities of university life.

We partnered with the University of Michigan’s Cooking Club to co-host an evening filled with information on off-campus dining, round table discussions about common student experiences with food, and a cooking demonstration with healthy and easy tacos. It went very smoothly and we were so glad with the student turnout as well as level of engagement. In the first part of the evening, we shared vital resources we felt have not been adequately distributed to students, such as resources on where to buy groceries and how to properly prepare meals in advance for the week. We then distributed handmade recipes booklets and pamphlets for later reference so that after the event, students can still learn and increase their awareness on dining resources. In the next part of the event, we split students into groups to talk about their personal experiences, and to no surprise, found that many shared the same insecurities and issues relating to time, budget, and lack of knowledge. We want to hopefully use this information as research for future endeavors, such as working with Beyond the Diag to add information on their website. For the last portion of the event, we shared the South Quad kitchen space with the Cooking Club in order to add an interactive portion. Students had a chance to make tacos with tasty vegetables and guacamole. Overall, it was a great night and our team is very proud with how everything unfolded.

We did have some challenges prior to this event, however, we were able to overcome most of them. In the beginning, we weren’t sure how we could relay all of information in an enticing format that would motivate students to pay attention and to also want to spread their new knowledge to other students. We went back and forth with a powerpoint to a discussion to a blog. On reflecting on a BLI habit, we wanted to think big, but also think small with the constraints of the Leadership Lab. Our group is very pleased with how we found a happy medium by co-hosting an event. It took away some of the responsibility of event logistics and scheduling. We were then able focus on the execution of our all of the valuable information we gathered.

We also wanted to take a moment to thank the Barger Leadership Institute faculty, staff, and students for their support and guidance throughout this semester. We also would like to thank BLI for awarding us a grant in order to end our project on such a meaningful and impactful note!

By: Grant Dukus, Alexis Schachter, Ellie Grupenhoff, Nuzhat Choudhury, Irina Kopyeva

Team Diversity – Bias Incident Reporting

Our original vision called for a student maintained response system to bias incidents on campus, but we quickly realized that this was not realistic for our time constraint. We then decided to simply focus on the University’s bias incident reporting log. After realizing that none of us actually knew how to report a bias incident to the university, we made this the focus of our project. We partnered with Expect Respect and held a successful tabling event that taught students how to identify a bias incident and all the ways to report it to the University. People were able to enjoy a free donut, take a flyer with all the information we gave them, and take swag (stickers, buttons, and bracelets) provided by Expect Respect. We sent out a survey before the event and learned that 76.9 % of students did not feel confident identifying a bias incident, and 50% of those students did not know how to report one to the University. After visiting our table, 84.1% felt confident they could identify a bias incident and 62.2% knew how to report an incident to the university. We were able to teach students how to report a bias incident in a short amount of time and make a small positive impact for diversity in our campus community.

Three BLI Leadership Habits that guided our project were “Start Small,” “Build a Team,” and “Collect, Combine, Create.” Initially, we found that it was difficult to find a project that was small enough to have a big impact on the community. Once we completely changed our project, we were able to better collect our thoughts, combine as a team, and create a project that would benefit the student population. In our weekly meetings, we welcomed new ideas and combined our visions of a successful project. Finally, we were able to build a team, not only within our immediate group, but the community at large. We partnered with Expect Respect to develop a project that increased awareness on what a bias incident is and how to report it.

One of the biggest challenges that we faced was that our issue was quite broad, and knowing our time and resources were a bit limited, we needed to rethink our initial idea. Thus, we opted to develop a plan in which a meaningful impact can be made but just executed on a smaller scale. Since our initial plan was ambitious, we realized this soon enough and reconstructed our project idea to better meet the expectations set for us. As mentioned in the BLI habits that were exercised, we focused on starting small and developing a more realistic perspective to tackle the issue at hand, which was the lack of exposure to reporting bias incidents. After our event, this method proved to be successful as we were able to gather a significant amount of people to come by and grab a donut while learning how to report bias incidents!

Our team included people from three out of the four grade levels, and all different experiences at the University of Michigan. Our team really succeeded in collaborating because we are able to combine our different perspectives, and contribute each of our individual vision for what this project should look like, to make an end product we will all proud of. When we began working, we all had different ideas of what this project should look like, but by taking the time during our meeting to describe what we wanted to get out of this experience, we were able to make sure everyone’s ideas were equally represented. Other than that, everyone in our group were just kind to one another. The respect each member of the group gave to each other was part of the reason why our group had such an accepting climate: it was very comfortable to contribute new ideas. As opposed to what our group succeeded in, the primary area where our group struggled was finding a good time for us all to meet. It was really hard to all meet up at the same time since we had time-conflicting prior commitments. We ended up making it work in the end though by utilizing online messages software like GroupMe to communicate ideas.

As we were working on this project, our group gained many skills that were useful for personal development. We learned to inform other team members when problems arise such as schedule conflict and to give each other’s honest feedback. This allowed us to have an open and efficient communication in a group setting. We also learned to formulate a clear and practical goal that our group could accomplish in a limited time and resources which helped us develop a smart planning strategy for future projects. It was definitely hard to coordinate meeting times with not only the other team members but also our partner Expect Respect, but we learned to still be actively engaged through different means of communication and to be more flexible. The acquisition of these essential skills defines the success of our project.

The project was a great success, and as such, we are excited about potentially putting on this event again, potentially once or twice per semester. Since the logistical elements have now been figured out, it would not be too difficult to put this event on again, and we were able to successfully connect with a lot of students in a short time period. Moving forward, our team is considering continuing to work together and with BLI to sponsor this donut event once-twice per semester, but we also have individual goals within BLI. All of us are interested in continuing our leadership here in some capacity, whether than be through trips, the capstone, or potentially teaching the course next semester!


By: Devan O’Toole, Evie Winter, Mehrin Ahmed, Sophie Partington, Hannah Dang, and Ashya Smith