Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL)
Launched in 2004, the Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL) Program is an integral part of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program’s commitment to fostering student engagement on campus and in the greater metro-Detroit area.
WILL is a program for undergraduate students that integrates Women’s and Gender Studies curriculum with leadership opportunities outside of the classroom.
WILL is part of a national set of programs devoted to fostering, developing, and supporting collegiate women’s leadership. It is a co-curricular program founded on three core principles:
- Required women’s and gender studies-related coursework
- A student-run leadership development organization
- Women’s and gender-related programming outside of the classroom
The goals of the WILL program are:
- To encourage critical thinking and intellectual curiosity by providing active learning opportunities that empower students as leaders during and beyond their college years
- To foster a deeper understanding of women’s diverse roles and contributions to society
- To increase awareness of obstacles created by gender, racial, and social class stratification and develop individual and collective strategies to address these obstacles
- To enrich the campus, Metro Detroit, and global community through service and programming.
WILL is open to UM-Dearborn undergraduate students - while the name of the program includes the word Women – we welcome members of all genders – and are committed to building a program that is welcoming of a diverse student body.
Students interested in joining WILL must complete a screening process, where students are nominated, invited to submit an application, and complete and interview with the WILL Director and several current WILL students. WILL seeks nominations for new members from faculty, staff, and existing WILL members. Students must be in good academic standing to join and participate in WILL. Students who are interested in learning more about WILL, or would like to be nominated, should contact the WILL Director.
Each WILL student must successfully complete 12 credits of Women’s and Gender Studies coursework.
There are two required courses:
- WGST 303 - Intro to Women’s and Gender Studies (3 credit hours)
- WGST 3651 – Women’s Leadership and Social Change (3 credit hours)
Two Women’s and Gender Studies Electives
- Students can choose from a wide variety of cross-listed classes in Women’s and Gender Studies.
We hold monthly meetings September-April. All WILL Members must attend a minimum of two meetings per semester.
WILL Service Hours
All WILL members must engage in a minimum of 15 hours of WILL activities per semester. Activities could include: planning and attending WILL events, mentoring, or engaging in community service. Members are expected to require all major WILL-sponsored events.
Preparation of a WILL Portfolio
WILL members will each create their own web-based WILL portfolio, to be updated every year.
WILL Co-Curricular Activities
WILL is also a registered, formal student organization. The organization is directed by a faculty member, working collaboratively with elected student officers. WILL’s governance structure is based on teamwork, with each position defining a leader and co-leader.
WILL officer positions include:
- WILL Chair
- WILL Co-Chair
- On-campus Events Coordinator
- Assistant On-campus Events Coordinator
- Off-campus Events Coordinator
- Assistant Off-campus Events Coordinator
- Membership Coordinator
- Assistant Membership Coordinator
- Mentoring Coordinator
- Assistant Mentoring Coordinator
- Social Media Team Coordinator
- Assistant Social Media Team Coordinator
The WILL Program sponsors numerous campus and community-based activities including Take Back the Night, Feminist Coming Out Day, and mentoring at Vista Maria.
In recent years, WILL has also hosted a Women in STEM panel, a Black Women’s History event, workshops on consent and ending sexual assault and violence, and serving as teaching assistants in college courses that are taught inside a women’s correctional facility. In 2015, WILL was awarded the University’s “Outstanding Student Organization” award for their exemplary programming.
Take Back the Night
Take Back the Night is an annual event hosted by Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL) that takes place on the UM-Dearborn campus. It is a night to raise awareness for and show solidarity with sexual assault survivors and domestic violence survivors. Traditionally, the event has revolved around survivors voicing their stories and a march around campus in which individuals advocate for putting an end to sexual assault and domestic violence.
With the virtualization of our world due to COVID-19, Take Back the Night was held on Zoom, both in October 2020 and 2021 with a panel of speakers who discussed the stigma surrounding sexual assault and domestic violence as well as ways to support survivors, especially in the era of COVID-19.
October 27, 2021
Below you'll find a short video prepared by Oakland Co. Prosecutor Karen McDonald in support of this event. And you'll also find the recording of the October 2021 Take Back the Night event.
October 29, 2020
Below you'll find two short videos prepared by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Senator Debbie Stabenow in support of this event. And you'll also find the recording of the October 2020 Take Back the Night event.
Testimonials from WILL members
Join WILL: Regroup, refocus, rebuild, reconnect, respect – gain more control of your education, relationships, destiny, life!
– sophomore, communications major
WILL creates a space for women to articulate their priorities and address them through leadership in the community.
– junior, biology major
WILL students are from all different walks of life. Rich or poor, black or white, returning or traditional student, you can find a place in WILL.
– senior, psychology major