Anthony Wagner proposes Pride during the March 30 Student Government meeting (Ben Dixon/MJ)

BY SAMANTHA ELLIOTT, Editor-in-Chief

Two new student organizations were approved during Friday’s final Student Government meeting under current One Michigan Coalition President, David Knezek.

The two new organizations joined a long list of organizations that have been approved since the Fall 2011 semester.

The first club to be approved was the Syrian Student Union (SSU). According to the club’s constitution, the purpose of the club is, “to foster broad student interest and participation in activities by providing leadership, programs, and service and to assist students in developing skills and leadership abilities.”

The SSU welcomes any student enrolled at UM-Dearborn. While no yearly fees will be charged, the organization is still determining the amount of dues members will have to pay. The organization will hold weekly meetings and for members to remain in good standing they must show up to meetings and contribute in a positive way to the group.

The second organization approved will be branching off of the current Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). The new organization’s name will be Pride. Current GSA co-president Anthony Wagner will be the chair of Pride. Wagner came up with the idea of Pride after attending the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference in Lansing, Michigan this past winter.

According to Wagner, GSA was created during a time when not much was known about the LGBT population and the group was designed as more of a social organization in order to get the word out. Pride will not only focus on social awareness but other issues such as activism, community outreach, and social justice not only on campus but in the Metropolitan Detroit area as well.

The structure of Pride will differ from that of a normal organization. Rather than a traditional e-board, the organization will have a board of directors with committees established within the organization. Instead of having one centralized meeting a week, the group will hold several meetings with each committee. Wager thought the idea of a centralized meeting could veer interested students away. With several committee meetings a week as well as a weekly e-board meeting that will be open to the public, students will have a flexible schedule to choose from.

GSA will merge into the Pride Social Committee, as a way to still handle the social issues the group will come across.

The committees will include committee heads with students from all areas of campus, some who may not be expected, according to Wagner. The diversity in the board of directors will help the organization easily access partners for any of their big projects.

“We have non-traditional leaders who aren’t what some would expect,” Wagner said, continuing, “Each has power with several other areas of campus giving us great immediate co sponsors. We have fantastic USO (University Sponsored Organization) partners that we can be working with to really grow our organization.”

Pride plans to “hit the ground running,” according to Wagner. Motor City Pride is held the first weekend in June this year and Wagner is planning on having a UM-Dearborn booth set up at the event. Wagner intends to get the Dearborn name out there to show potential students that Dearborn is indeed an inclusive community.

“If I had seen that [booth] there, I would have looked at them immediately,” Wagner said reflecting on his experiences as a high school student who attended Motor City Pride.

Pride has several different marketing and communication strategies. Breaking away from the traditional mass email communication method, Pride will have a “completely social media route,” according to Wagner.

“We won’t take your email to get you to join. If people want the information, the organization will make it available to them,” Wagner said.

The organization will utilize Facebook as well as a Twitter account that will solely be used to inform members of events coming up, meeting locations, or if a meeting time has changed.
Pride will officially launch during the Fall 2012 semester with banners, promo items, and other methods to help build a core membership.

“We’re trying to do things in a more creative way,” Wagner said, adding, “We’ve got some great leadership in place already and I’m excited to be working with such a non-traditional group.”

For more information on Pride, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/prideumdearborn.