The School of Education is home to a multiplicity of student organizations that promote the work of diversity, inclusion, justice and equity in their own unique ways. The organizations are critical to offering students peer support, advocacy, and representation. Collectively, they also offer a range of engaging dije-related activities and programming. Here, we highlight several organizations that are part of our community.
Becoming Educators of Tomorrow (BET)
BET, first named “Black Educators of Tomorrow,” was originally founded as a student organization centered around the experiences and needs of SOE’s Black/African American students with SOE’s Assistant Dean Henry Meares as its advisor. BET’s mission eventually expanded to focus on all graduate students of color, and membership today includes anyone interested in, and supportive of, diversity in education.
Educational Studies doctoral students Paulina Fraser and Naomi Wilson assumed leadership roles within BET when the original chairs were preparing to graduate. Each year BET presentsOutspoken,a spoken word and creative performance event that brings current SOE community members together with prospective students for an engaging, and often moving, evening of entertainment. Fraser explained that during her visit to SOE as a prospective student, she performed during Outspoken’s open mic period, and her Outspoken experience was one of the key reasons why she decided to attend Michigan. She performed that night because her dad told her, “Whenever you are given an opportunity to speak, step up.” Now, two years later, Fraser and Wilson are guiding BET through a period of revitalization and looking for others to help run the organization. In March, they co-hosted “Outspoken: The Series,” an extension of the original BET event. In additional, BET recently began hosting regular open mic nights at local bookstores and cafes like Avalon in downtown Ann Arbor. These nights are open to the public, and Paulina noted that it is “really important for events like this to exist, especially in these times.”
The Graduate Organization for Students in Higher Education (GOSHE)
Every year, the Graduate Organization for Students in Higher Education (GOSHE) strives to assess and address the needs of students in SOE’s Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education (CSHPE). GOSHE aims to help CSHPE students see themselves as transformative educators who have the capacity to improve higher education organizations and conduct meaningful research. In line with the organization’s mission, this year’s GOSHE organizers—Shelby Flores, Sarah Spies, Kyle McCoil, Selyna Beverly and Tiffany Browne—hope members use the organization to connect with a diverse network of national higher education colleagues and to constructively challenge and support their CSHPE peers throughout their careers.
While GOSHE focuses on the field of higher education, they collaborate with other groups within the School of Education and across campus to pursue equity in both education and in intersecting fields. For instance, GOSHE collaborates with U-M’s Law School’s interdisciplinary initiative, The Student Rights Project (SRP).
The Students Rights Project
The mission of SRP is to train law, social work, and education students to serve as advocates on interdisciplinary teams to represent public school students in suspension and expulsion hearings. The SRP also organizes and promotes activities designed to challenge institutional threats to educational opportunities for low-income children.
Led this year by law school student Elliot Gluck and SOE doctoral student Tonya Kneff-Chang, the Students Rights Project is a partner of the Student Advocacy Center of Michigan. The center is a regional, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the educational rights of students across Michigan.
The Graduate Student Community Organization (GSCO)
The Graduate Student Community Organization acts as umbrella organization for all of the student groups at SOE and sends student advisors to faculty governance committees like the Dean’s Executive Committee. The primary mission of the GSCO is to cultivate the constant improvement of SOE graduate student support, representation,and communication. It strives to strengthen relationships among graduate students within and across programs in the school, to facilitate information sharing among graduate students, school administration, faculty, and staff, and to support graduate students in the sometimes strenuous process of attaining their degree. Educational Studies doctoral students Rebecca Gadd and Laura-Ann Jacobs co-chaired GSCO this year. The organization’s leadership committee is composed of 13 students who represent of all the academic programs within the School of Education.
GSCO and Becoming Educators of Tomorrow (BET) hosted the annual School of Education Graduate Student Conference this past March, which was entitled “Pushing Back and Lifting Up: Inspiring Change Through Educational Research, Policy, and Practice.”
Student organizers Ashley Jackson and Crystal Wise co-hosted the event at which both master’s and doctoral students presented research from a diverse range of disciplinary, epistemological, and methodological traditions.
The Social Work and Education Collaboration
Judi Siyaj, Mikayla Bowen, and Emma Klein co-chair The Social Work and Education Collaboration (SWEC). This organization aims to bring undergraduate and graduate students in their respective schools together to discuss and learn more about social justice issues in schools in order to become better equipped to serve the PreK-12 students with whom they work. The SWEC began when students in both fields noticed a disconnect between social workers’ and teachers’ school settings. They saw the potential of a more supportive school environment if social workers and teachers worked together to better understand issues and barriers students face.
The SWEC organizers hope to continue to grow the organization and broaden the scope of topics in which they engage.Altogether, the SOE’s student organizations boost the vitality of the School’s dije commitments. Organizations that reach beyond the SOE, like those linked with the School of Social Work and the Law School, have the extra ability to promote inclusion that benefits both local elementary and secondary students as well as U-M students across campus. All student organization leaders, however, help facilitate important conversations, offer SOE administrators, faculty, and staff constructive feedback, and help build community through their organizations’ events and by representing students’ voices in the field. A full list of SOE student organizations can be found on SOE's Student Groups directory.
MORE FROM Expansions Vol 2
The School of Education is proud to be a leader in the campus-wide initiative promoting Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity. Adding "Justice" to these values underscores the role of educators in the creation of just societies. Through research, public scholarship, community building, and the preparation of education practitioners and policymakers, we articulate and advance our dije agenda.