On Monday, March 7, the Butler Center for Service and Leadership will host a belly dancing class led by renowned belly dancing instructor Portia Lange.
The workshop constitutes the first half of the Patricia A. Whitely Women’s Leadership Symposium, the remainder of which will take place on March 23. The workshop will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the East Ballroom of the Shalala. Student center.
This year marks the 9th annual symposium and will be the first in-person symposium since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mary Weber, a junior who serves as the symposium’s student co-chair, explains that despite its name, the event isn’t just open to self-identifying female students.
“This is an opportunity to bring the entire campus community together. We accept people of all genders,” Weber said.
“The belly dance workshop is one of three areas of focus for the symposium,” said Collette Mighty, assistant director at the Butler Center and student organizer advisor.
Mighty explains that belly dancing represents physical well-being, while the rest of the symposium events will focus on professional and personal empowerment.
Features of the rest of the event include keynote speakers and networking opportunities with professionals from various disciplines.
“We really want to make sure that our students are not just empowered by their intellect or by the interaction, but by well-being,” Mighty said.
Regardless of the specific events that will take place, the symposium is organized with the goal of empowering UM students to advocate for themselves and work toward their goals.
The theme for this year’s event is “Unbreakable,” named after students who have continued to thrive despite the events of the past two years.
“The symposium was born to really empower our students, to really let them know that we’re here to develop you holistically, whether professionally or personally,” Mighty said.
Weber echoes that statement, reiterating the event’s focus on gender equality.
“It’s just to really celebrate and empower the women through this experience, whether it’s through their personal experiences or their professional growth,” Weber said.
Although registration for the belly dance workshop is closed, students can still register for other symposium events until 11:59 p.m. on March 21. Those interested in the program should register at this webpage.