What is an Ally

Being an ally doesn’t always mean joining a student group to fight for a large injustice. There are dozens of smaller ways in which you can greatly impact the lives of one or more people.

Speaking up about something you find offensive or just plain wrong is a great way to educate people about your opinions. Whether it’s a joke in poor taste or the passing of a Constitutional amendment, showing the courage and compassion to stand up for what you believe in may make a huge difference to someone who is listening.


Who is an ally?

An ally is anyone who interrupts acts of oppression or discrimination. Allies also work to interrupt unfairness or mistreatment, such as alcohol and/or drug abuse, violence, eating disorders, etc.

But I thought an ally was a straight person who works with gay people to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

Although the term “ally" is most commonly used in reference to the LGBT community, one can be an ally to any oppressed group or target of mistreatment.


How do I be an ally to someone or community of which I know little?

It’s important to be truly engaged with the person and/or community you are trying to work with. Learn about the historical events, legal decisions, and public sentiments that have worked either against them or in their favor. Ask lots of questions and talk honestly about what you do know, what you don’t know, and what you’d like to learn.


What do I have to offer as an ally?

Your unique position as a student at U of M is a privilege: you have all the tools of learning at your fingertips, there are dozens of students willing to be involved in struggles for social justice, and there are dozens of students, staff and faculty members at the University to guide you in the right direction.

Being an ally is a rewarding experience; we know you won’t regret your decision to get involved.

Visit our Story Board to hear stories


Continue to learn about the Theoretical Foundations of Allyhood.