Safe Space Student Leadership Initiative (SSLI)

2016-2017 SSLI Cohort Picture
2016-2017 SSLI Cohort

The Safe Space Student Leadership Initiative (SSLI) is unique from other leadership programs already available on campus due to the strong focus on leadership in identity based contexts, particularly the impact of sexual orientation and gender identity on leadership identity.  In conjunction with developing leadership skills, Safe Space Student Leaders (SSLs) will receive training in the areas of communication, conflict management, identity development models, peer education, diversity and inclusion, and social justice models in order to prepare them to effectively interact with the campus population and educate others on GLBTIQ issues.  SSLs will utilize their developed skills to co-facilitate Safe Space trainings, panels, and discussions to students, staff, and faculty across campus.

Request a Student Safe Space Workshop


  • To create opportunities for GLBTIQ and Ally identified students to expand and develop their leadership, communication, and conflict management skills while participating in civic engagement and peer education activities aimed at improving the campus climate for the GLBTIQ and ally identified community.

  • The unique focus of this program will provide engagement opportunities to a variety of students, including those: who may not be satisfied with the current models of GLBTIQ student activities, who would benefit from alternative outlets of activism and outreach, or who may not otherwise view themselves as, or have opportunity to be, a leader.  Leadership development in college students has shown to have a positive impact on learning and development outcomes. GLBTIQ college students can face a multitude of conflicting expectations on how to embrace their sexual and/or gender identity while being a valued contributor to their community.  In focusing on the unique needs and challenges faced by GLBTIQ and Ally identified students, students will be better equipped to synthesize a leadership identity with a GLBTIQ identity (Renn 2007). SSLI will offer an outlet to explore these divergences in a safe environment while providing the necessary tools to be able to think critically about their place within the campus community and society as a whole.  It is through these efforts that we will be able to produce well-rounded, confident, and competent graduates who are able to take these skills into the real world and challenge expectations and stereotypes and improve the climate for themselves and others.
  • While the primary purpose of this program is to enrich the experience of SSLs, this initiative aims to expand upon the Safe Space Initiative and provide tangible services to the campus community and increased visibility, outreach, education, and campus climate on GLBTIQ related issues.  These tangible services, provided by SSLs, include:

    • Peer-facilitated Safe Space training for students
    • Classroom presentations on the services of GLBTIQ Student Programs
    • Classroom workshops covering topics related to sexuality, attraction, and gender
    • A speaker bureau available for panel presentations to the campus community
    • Advisory board to GLBTIQ Student Programs
  • If you are interested in being a part of the 2017-2018 SSLI cohort, please fill out an application:

    Safe Space Student Leader Application (Opens March 20, 2017)

    Application Process and Timeline

    • Applications will open on March 20th and close at 5:00pm on April 21st.
    • Applicants will be contacted within three (3) business days of their application to schedule an interview.
    • Interviews will be conducted between April 24th and May 5th. We anticipate interviews will last between 25-40 minutes.
    • Successful candidates will be notified of their acceptance on May 12th via their student email account.
    • Mandatory SSLI training retreats will be hosted on the following dates:
      • July 13th and July 14th (Thursday and Friday)
      • July 27th and July 28th (Thursday and Friday)
      • August 10th and August 11th (Thursday and Friday)
    • Details on SSLI training retreats will be shared with successful applicants at the time of their acceptance notification.

    SSLI Cohort Selection Criteria

    Successful SSLI candidates will meet the following criteria:

    • Full-time undergraduate student
    • Minimum adjusted GPA of 2.5
      • Adequate availabilty for presentations, workshops, and bi-weekly cohort meetings
      • SSLI works, to the extent possible, with student schedules
      • Students are asked to facilitate workshops based on their availabilty at that time
      • SSLI members are expected to facilitate at least one presentation per semester
      • Bi-weekly Cohort meetings are scheduled around the general availability of the cohort
      • Monthly professional development and skills workshops are mandatory for the entire cohort
    • SSLI candidates are not expected to have existing knowledge of leadership, gender and sexuality, social justice, or diversity and inclusion concepts.
    • "SSLI has given me the opportunity to give back to my community and be a part of opening minds. I have learned something from every presentation, from public speaking skills to conflict management to learning more about my community. I have become more aware of everything LGBTQ encompasses and more confident in myself, both as an LGBTQ person and as an advocate." - Dani, 2016-2017 Cohort

    • "SSLI has been the first LGBTQ+ group of its' type that I have ever joined. The presentations we give have helped me develop my public speaking and leadership skills. Not only am I giving presentations to my peers, I am also showing them a different perspective and learning with them. " - Elias, 2016-2017 Cohort

    • "I joined SSLI to help me develop confidence and leadership while at the same time give back to my community. Not only have I become a more effective public speaker, but I have also been able to use the experiences from what I've learned in other areas of my life. I've become more assured and have even found direction as to where I fit into the bigger picture." - Andrew, 2016-2017 Cohort
    • "To me, SSLI was an opportunity to teach others about the community I am apart of. It's helped develop my communications skills and given me the confidence to talk about tough issues surrounding the LGBT community with others." - Valerie, 2016-2017 Cohort