Womens’ leadership symposium kicks off with belly dancing workshop

On Monday, March 7, the Butler Center for Service and Leadership will hold a belly dancing class held by renowned belly dancing instructor Portia Lange.

The workshop serves as the first half of the Patricia A. Whitely womens’ leadership symposium, the rest of which will be held on March 23. The workshop will be held from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. in the East Ballroom of the Shalala Student Center.

The Butler Center's graphic to “Belly Dancing Wellness Workshop,” modified.
The Butler Center's invitation to “Belly Dancing Wellness Workshop,” modified. Photo credit: Butler Center

This year marks the 9th annual symposium and will be the first in-person symposium since the beginning 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 is not only open to female-identifying students.

“It’s an opportunity to bring together the entire campus community. We accept people from all across the gender spectrum,” Weber said.

“The belly dancing workshop serves as one part of the symposium’s three areas of focus,” said Collette Mighty, an assistant director at the Butler Center and advisor to the student organizers.

Mighty explains that belly dancing represents physical wellness, while the rest of the symposium’s events will be dedicated to both professional and personal empowerment.

Features of the rest of the event include keynote speakers and opportunities to network with professionals of various disciplines.

“We definitely want to ensure that our students are not just being empowered through their intellect or through interaction, but through wellness,” Mighty said.

Regardless of the specific events that will be held, the symposium is organized with the purpose of enabling UM students to advocate for themselves and work to achieve their goals.

The theme of this year’s event is “unbreakable,” named for the students who have continued to thrive despite the events of the past two years.

“The symposium arose to really empower our students, really let them know that we are here to holistically develop you, be it professional or personal,” Mighty said.

Weber echoes this statement, reiterating the event’s focus on gender equality.

“It’s just to really celebrate and empower women through this experience, whether it’s through their personal experiences or their professional growth,” Weber said.

Although registration for the belly dancing workshop is closed, students are still eligible to register for the symposium’s other events until 11:59 p.m. on March 21. Those interested in the program should register at this web page.