Student Senators plan Inaugural Women’s Summit

URI is planning to hold the inaugural women’s summit to celebrate women’s month. Illustration by: Maddie Bataille | Photo Editor

The University of Rhode Island’s Student Senate is holding its first-ever Women’s Summit to promote interconnection between different women leaders in the community. 

The event was planned by Off-Campus Senator and Academic Affairs Committee Chair, Grace Summerson and Senate Vice President, Emily Gamache. 

According to Summerson, one goal of the summit is to create connections between women to increase organization membership across the University by observing different leadership styles and training. 

“We’re going to be doing two leadership activities,” Summerson said. “And they’re going to be done with leaders on campus. The Vice President of Student Affairs, Ellen Reynolds, will be there and a bunch of other leaders such as sports coaches, professors as well.” 

In addition, Summerson said URI’s first lady, Mary Parlange, will also be attending the event.

Summerson said one part of learning about leadership is observing the limitations of each other so that others can gain experience and learn how to overcome similar obstacles. 

One of the events will be a round table discussion, where different student leaders will be put with a University leader, such as a dean or professor, in small groups where they will be able to have a more intimate conversation about the topics of the summit. Similarly, a panel will take place that will allow for a student Q&A, according to Summerson. 

“We want everyone to meet each other, and the different clubs and their women leaders can meet each other and recognize each other on campus, reach out if they need help with something or get inspiration for their clubs,” Summerson said.

The summit is invite-only, and Summerson and Gamache said that they had to divide the work of contacting people, with Summerson getting in contact with female student leaders, such as senate-recognized club presidents and sports team captains, and sending emails to their organization’s official email.

 Gamache, however, worked on contacting professional leaders, as well as the presidents of the University’s sororities. 

“We tried to cover all areas between, like, athletes [and] clubs,” Gamache said. 

Both senators spoke about how they were inspired to plan the summit to help community members break out of their “bubbles” and create “bridges” to connect women across campus, regardless of their background or interests. 

Summerson said that the summit is a request for equality within the University. 

“At this point, everyone needs to have the same accessibility to things and get the same opportunities regardless of who they are,” Summerson said. “And I think that including the multicultural clubs and including sports teams, like all the different parts of what makes URI URI should be included in this and I thought that this would be a really good way, considering we’re on Student Senate and we represent all these students that we should be kind of, like, the leaders in charge of making this happen.” 

Just as much as the summit is a request for equality, Gamache said that it’s a way for students to show off their different abilities as well. 

Gamache said she and Summerson also got the idea for the summit through the networking events they have gotten the opportunity to attend as senators. 

“I feel as though I get to see firsthand those connections and it truly is empowering,” Gamache said. “You don’t realize how close you can be to achieving something until you’re next to someone. Like we were at one women’s event and we had a couple of CEOs in the same room as us. And it’s like, you just look up to them and you build that connection and networking skills and then you feel as though you can literally do whatever you want.” The Inaugural Women’s Summit is scheduled to take place on April 30. Summerson and Gamache encourage club presidents to check their organization’s email for an invitation or to contact them to request an invitation.