Shortly before spring break, student leaders from Student Senate and CUA, along with the leaders of a number of Greek organizations and the multicultural organizations BSA, QUILTBAG and Mi Gente, held a summit to evaluate the effectivity of those organizations in engaging the student body in extracurricular campus life. The summit was organized to consider why so many student events go unattended and to evaluate and resolve issues regarding the division of responsibilities between groups, specifically CUA and Student Senate.
At the summit, the student leaders discussed many factors, including the party scene and student life outside of Jewell, and the competition these factors provide activities. They also recognized that the student body is often academically hyperactive. It is becoming common, according to Ben Shinogle, vice president of Student Senate, for a student to double major, with a minor, throw in a couple of certificates and also take on a leadership position.
Most importantly, summit leaders identified communication – between student leaders, administration and the student body at large as a major roadblock to smooth and successful events. This was the issue that took center stage at the summit.
Discussion revolved in large part around how lines of communication could be best maintained and how the structure of that communication might positively affect the dynamic among different groups. Between leaders and administration, for instance, there was a tendency for students to work on crafting proposals, and then taking them to the administration, where they were effectively on the chopping block – facing a yes or a no. The summit aimed for a more synergistic process.
What it produced was a commitment to more collaboration between campus organizers at all levels. Work in this direction began earlier this year when the senate decided to focus less on proposals and more on general resolutions in an effort to be more efficient, more flexible and more effective in garnering the support of staff and administration. At the summit, leaders agreed to the adoption of “Slack” as a forum for student organizations.
Slack is an online collaborative platform designed for business teams and academic bodies, which allows for the creation of public and private discussion channels, comparable to open MMS feeds. Slack also integrates file sharing and private messaging between individuals for more personal discussion. Slack is supposed to be a more efficient, transparent and informal mode of communication and organization. The leaders hope that it will work as a platform for students to voice concerns and share ideas for student programming and policy.
While leaders acknowledge points of contention still to be addressed, they seem confident that this was a simple but important advance toward a vibrant and engaged campus. Looking forward, students should look to see less conflicts arising in their schedules, see more participation in their extracurricular groups, and an increase in dialogue between students, staff and administration.