Student Life, student organizations expand after unification

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More than a year after unification, students now have a multitude of options when it comes to looking for events to attend and student organizations to join.

Cody Dallas, coordinator of Student Organizations and Leadership, said unification has been beneficial to both aspects.

“I think unification helped Student Life grow a bit because we have a larger pool of students to pull from to get them excited and attend events,” Dallas said. “We’ve had quite a lot of student organizations start, and also now they’re able to combine and collaborate with one another. They also have a larger set of students to recruit from and gather funds from when they do fundraising, especially since a lot of them table at both campuses now.”

Amanda Schacht, director of Student Life, said the best aspect of student organizations is the wide variety available to students.

“We may not have a particular organization on our campus, but someone from here can join it at the other campus and take part in the activities,” Schacht said. “Of course, it’s up to the student whether or not they want to commute, but I think that’s a good opportunity for students.”

At the end of 2017, Student Life had seven organizations available on both campuses, with 26 student organizations only on the Westville campus and 65 student organizations only on the Hammond campus. Schacht said Student Life compiles a list available for students in its office and on the website of what student organizations are available each semester.

“We’re definitely trying our best to promote student organizations. We’re getting feedback from students and faculty about how to go about that,” Schacht said.

Schacht said this year, feedback led to the creation of online training for student leaders.

“It’s sometimes difficult for student leaders to go through the in-person training with schedules,” Schacht said. “We’re always open to suggestions because we want our student organizations to be successful.”

Another challenge that has come with unification is the way Student Life plans its events.

“We started off offering the same events on both campuses, but it didn’t work because there’s a different demographic between them,” Schacht said. “The Hammond campus tends to draw from housing and night classes, so people are more willing to attend events at night there. We’re trying to be more strategic about when we have events and offering them at the times the students are more present on each campus.”

Dallas said if they think there is going to be a big turnout to an event, Student Life tries to offer transportation for students.

Schacht said that initially they gained feedback through a Programming Board of students that gave input on the events. Now, there is an additional Student Events Advisory Council that has been created including members from housing, athletics, the Honors College, International Programs Office and other organizations.

“The Advisory Council is different because it advises us in what they would like to see and members of the Programming Board are also there. It’s a grassroots initiative to get students involved,” Schacht said. “It’s my hope that we get more students involved, not only in attending events, but in being involved with the board.”