Conflict and ‘leadership’ in first-year course

By Wallace
Contributing Writer

The leadership course is a new course designed for first-year students to strengthen their writing skills whilst becoming a stronger leader. The course evokes strong feelings in first-years, like myself, who either see it as a welcomed safe space for building one’s confidence or a complete waste of time. Last semester, we all had to endure our Boston course—a course exactly the same as the leadership course, without a “leadership” component.

It was as if Simmons plagiarized itself by making two courses that have the same oddness about them, just with a few different words.

The leadership course is just an extension to the first-year classes that are supposed to make us better writers, but it just adds more classes to our already full load. So if we aren’t becoming better writers, what’s the point?

Because there has only been one week of classes, many of these comments are based on what students think the course will be like, and not actual reflections.

Many students who support the leadership course believe that it will give them the confidence they need to succeed in their desired careers; that this one class will give them the tools they need to be a leader no matter what, that they can take on anything, not accounting for the fact that leading with a title is not the only way to be a leader.

Having a title does not make you a leader. But some students believe that this class is essential to our futures, and that we should rejoice for being the first class at Simmons to have them.

Leadership should be a component of already-existing classes, and should be taught using examples of leaders who identify as women or non-binary in the class prospective field. For instance, students in chemistry can learn about scientists that have made breakthroughs in the industry. Instead of making an entirely new curriculum to teach leadership, trust that students will find the power within themselves to be leaders after learning about inspirational people in their fields.

The best way to make a leader out of a student is to show them someone that looks like them that has done it before. As a person designated female at birth, I find that it is more comforting to see others in the places I would like to go that also battle the internalized misogyny that makes us question our validity in positions of power.

Learning that others have struggled with racism, homophobia, and transphobia give me the courage I need to be a leader. Leadership is not taught. Leadership is an inspired trait. You become a leader because you have a goal, not because someone told you to be one.

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