Do’s and Don’ts for LGBTQ Campus Organizing

by Christopher Bylone & Jess McDonald

The Do’s:

Do strive to reach win/win agreements for both the university and the organization.
Look for alignments between the university’s and organization’s missions, visions, values and commitments.

Do seek to understand what motivates people to join the organization. What motivates one member might not motivate another. This is okay! Offer programming that appeals to a wide variety of people. Talk to your less active members and see what they’re looking from in your organization.

Do ask for help instead of trying to do it all on your own. Utilize the talents of your organization’s members, and reach out to faculty and staff allies. Partner with other organizations. Getting more people involved makes your organization stronger.

Do organize with a playful heart and maintain focus on the 5 P’s: Purpose, Passion, Presence, Power, and Possibilities. Remember, just because it’s work doesn’t mean it can’t also be fun.

Do share your impressions freely and hold your opinions. Are you making assumptions about the situation or are you assessing the situation? By using assessment tools, you and other leaders can help the university focus on solutions and create a process for gaining a clear, objective picture of the current situation.

The Don’ts:

Don’t judge and make the university feel under attack. The job of a student leader is to help the university be the best it can. The focus is finding solutions, not placing blame. The governing board of the university will give more of themselves when they are focused on the positive.

Don’t forget to remain true to the leadership Code of Ethics. Remember these five keys: Respect, Trust, Confidentiality, Credibility, and Integrity. Consistently “role model” these values.

Don’t work without a timeline. A timeline will automagically build in accountability. Set benchmarks for the next meeting or the next step in the process. Start early and delegate tasks.

Don’t assume you’re without prejudice. All of us have prejudices and are subject to prejudice. Understand your prejudice and exercise your personal power and privilege to foster more diversity.

Don’t try to control your organization. Lead your organization! When it feels like you are steering your organization’s sailboat, it’s time to give up the helm. Empower your organization members to participate and explore for themselves. Remember, change comes from within. Your fellow organization members have great wisdom and feel ownership only when they are part of the solution.

Source: Christopher Bylone & Jess McDonald, Campus Pride, 2012.

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