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Abrupt cancellation of WLI dismays students

I have already had the opportunity to share my opinions regarding the administration’s decision to cut the Women’s Leadership Institute, and would now like to highlight a project conducted jointly between the ICL and WLI, so that both the administration and the student body might understand the very personal and profound effects WLI has had on my career as a Mills student.

Last May, Daphne Muse approached me about a WLI-ICL campus-wide party for election night, and eagerly I signed up. Planning began as early as July, and though it was complicated by summer school and vastly separate time zones, we already had a streamlined agenda by the time school started. As I told Sarah Gonzalez, this was a highly complicated process with several tasks to be organized, and we pulled it off magnificently with cooperation from the SAW program, the President’s and Provost’s Offices, and the Public Policy Department.

One of the many benefits of the planning stages was the opportunity to work closely with another WLI Fellow, Wun-Kuen Ng, with whom I developed a very productive business partnership, which both built upon and challenged my skills of cooperation and communication. An MBA candidate, Wun added a dynamic to my leadership strategy, which, as an English and History undergraduate student, I would not have received in any other setting. Together, we proved that the interdisciplinary paradigm that Daphne Muse has sought to establish on this campus is a very real, tangible, and powerful force in the leadership development of Mills women.

On Election Night, we achieved what few Mills organizations have been able to do, and filled a communal void which plagues this campus: over 200 students, professors, staffers, their friends, and their families came together in Student Union and celebrated in Obama’s success as a community. It was one of the few times I have seen such a connection between Mills women, and I am enormously proud to have been a part of it. It is, in my opinion, the most successful event hosted by any group on campus since my arrival to Mills, and I look forward to its replication in the upcoming Gender Initiative event. More importantly, I look forward it its replication in the upcoming generations of Mills women, a goal which I fear will not be met in light of the recent budgetary decision.

No other organization on campus can even hope to provide the leadership training that the WLI and ICL have offered me and several other students, and I agree with Jennifer Smith in her assertion that we must stop reinventing the wheel: we have two excellent leadership programs in place, they have demonstrated their worth, and it is our duty as a campus dedicated to women’s leadership to keep them intact.

-Cecilia Aguilera, junior