On The Move

Oakland University alumnus Sean Kosofsky prepares to champion for social change in a new city

Oakland University graduate Sean Kosofsky sits in a chair inside the Oakland Center on campus

Oakland University alumnus Sean Kosofsky gets comfortable in the Oakland Center on campus. Photo by Alex Godin.


icon of a calendarJuly 6, 2017

icon of a pencilBy Chris Lewis

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Oakland University alumnus Sean Kosofsky, CAS '98, has a passion for social justice that is inherent from a decorated résumé of activism. He's lobbied for LGBT rights as the political director of the Triangle Foundation (now Equality Michigan), fought racial injustice as part of the Blueprint NC progressive coalition and, most recently, battled bullying nationwide as the executive director of the New York-based Tyler Clementi Foundation.

"There is no story of bullying-related suicide more potent than Tyler Clementi's tragic passing," Kosofsky says. "I just knew I had to help lead this foundation, and I am forever grateful Tyler's family gave me a chance."

Later this summer, Kosofsky will vacate his three-year role as foundation director to move with his partner to San Francisco, California, where he plans to continue championing for change with a fervor he found at OU.

"Just as I built alliances at Oakland University, I will continue my life's work in California fighting for all marginalized populations," he says.

Oakland University graduate Sean Kosofsky poses for a photo during an afternoon on campus with Elliott Tower in the background
Oakland University graduate Sean Kosofsky found a passion for social justice early on as a freshman at OU. Photo by Alex Godin.

A political science major, Kosofsky served as chair of the University's LGBT-focused student group (then called GALA) as a freshman and remained heavily involved with campus organizations until graduation. In that time, he sought to improve representation for LGBT students and also built bridges between student groups of opposing views.

"Within months, we were friendly with religious groups. Within another two years, they were no longer working to block our campaigns for LGBT equality," says Kosofsky. He explains that visibility plays an important role in advocating for change. "It's a powerful example of immersion."

Increasing the public's mindfulness of any issue requires speaking out, even the face of opposition, he explains. In doing so, Kosofsky says he learned to be "more of a fighter" at OU.

"You have to do what you believe in."

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