Tigers Leading Tigers: Fall 2022 Update

Written by
Sisi Batsaikhan '26, ODUS Communications Fellow
Nov. 29, 2022

From student governance to peer advising, there are an abundance of leadership opportunities available to students at Princeton. Newly launched at the beginning of the 2022 fall semester, Tigers Leading Tigers  (TLT) is a leadership development program which seeks to equip students with the necessary skills, tools and experiences to succeed as a peer leader at Princeton and beyond. The program offers weekly workshops that focus on topics relevant to the student leader experience, offering students the opportunity to hone their broad-based leadership skills and capacity to support other Tigers. Participants who attend the workshops are awarded “competencies” through the MyPrincetonU platform which can be displayed on resumes, curricula vitae, and LinkedIn. The program focuses on leaders of student groups and organizations, but is open and free to all undergraduate and graduate students at Princeton.

Since the spring of 2021, The Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students had been working to launch a program that would advance the Empower and Engage: Campus Life Strategic Plan. In September of 2022, the plan came into fruition as TLT. The program targets four of the Strategic Plan’s five goals, namely: strengthening belonging across students identities, prioritizing health and wellbeing,  developing students for a life of meaning and service, and enhancing campus life communication and collaboration.

With topics ranging from environmental sustainability to free expression, the curriculum for TLT is designed to address every aspect of the student leadership experience. Each workshop is held over a 60 to 90 minute lunch at Prospect House, a landmark 19th-century home overlooking a scenic garden on campus. Twenty students come together to engage in productive discussion and develop new strategies to tackle issues within their student groups as well as promote diversity and inclusion. Each workshop is facilitated by both internal and external experts in the field such as Danelle Whiteside, Vice President for Legal Affairs and Organizational Strategy at Austin Peay State University as well as Princeton’s own Dr. Calvin Chin, Director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Princeton University.

Ian Deas, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Students and Director of Student Leadership and Engagement, who is in charge of coordinating the program, says that he is “impressed by the range of groups represented in these engagements.” He expressed that it was heartening to see how these student leaders are able to both contribute towards the discussions during sessions as well as share their newfound knowledge with their peers and student group members. Their cognizance of their ability to shape the experiences of their peers and their motivation to be proactive shines a bright light on the future of Princeton leaders.

The TLT curriculum is informed both by campus trends and student feedback. Trends within student organizations are carefully considered to better support students in areas of need. ODUS also makes an effort to survey the interests of student leaders who are better able to reflect the interests of their peers. The first ever TLT workshop, Creating Inclusive Communities for FLI Students (first-generation, low-income students) was a direct result of responding to student requests, for example.

Ian Fridman ‘25, a participant in two workshops, describes the experience as “insightful, immersive and conversational.” He says that it was a good learning experience outside of the classroom setting through which he was able to have meaningful conversations about niche topics. To Ian, the workshops were an opportunity to ask the harder questions and receive “unsugarcoated” answers from experts. The sessions having a smaller number of participants allowed for students to be vulnerable, share their feelings and talk about personal experiences. As a whole, Ian describes the program as being incredibly helpful in teaching students how to lead with inclusion, empathy, care and awareness of social issues. He notes that the skills and tools taught during sessions were useful to his personal life as well as his life as a peer leader. He recommends the program for students who are looking for an interactive, engaging and less structured learning environment.

So, what’s in store for TLT? Both Dean Deas and Ian Fridman agree that expanding the capacity for the program is the next big step. As more and more students register, sessions are increasingly becoming harder to get into, with admission to most requiring being put on the waitlist. Given the program’s success, a key question moving forward is how the program can expand access to more students without sacrificing the intimacy of its sessions.

The next TLT workshop will share practical strategies for students to consider diversity and inclusion in their purchases and vendor choices and will take place shortly after Thanksgiving break on Dec 2, 2022. Be sure to register for this, and other TLT programs quickly!