Student leadership and involvement is a big part of the college experience. Being a member of a student organization can play an important factor in the success and enjoyment of one’s time in college, but is simply being a member enough?
John Rindy, director of the Office of Career and Education Development, said the idea of something looking good on your resume is not enough. It comes back to the existing leaders to make sure they are training new leaders and getting them excited to be one.
“To some degree I suppose at the college level a lot of people have bought into the idea that you just have to be in an organization and that is all you need because it looks good on a resume,” Rindy said. “I always disagree with that because if you’re not involved, what story are you going to tell?”
Rindy said from working in the corporate world and higher education, he believes the level of student leadership and involvement on campus year to year has a lot to do with transition.
“I always say that one of the responsibilities of a leader is to train the next one,” Rindy said. “Many people get wrapped up in their own leadership and how good they are doing, that they leave the organization in shambles because they did everything themselves.”
Organizations that consistently have this type of leadership are doing a full range of things such as holding people accountable, not doing it all by themselves, and training the next generation, Rindy said.
“A great example on our campus would be Alpha Kappa Psi, year in and year out that organization is solid,” Rindy said.
Other clubs and organizations Rindy said he has seen stay consistent or even grow in involvement over the past couple years is Psi Chi, Early Childhood Club, and FLSP (First Year Leader Scholar Program). Community assistants, pride guides, orientation ambassadors, the Green and White Society and any of the other major organizations like Greek Life he feels offer great leadership roles.
President of professional business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi, Amy Swartz, said the fraternity currently has 100 members. When she pledged four years ago, her pledge class was around 15 people and ended with five being initiated. Last semester, Alpha Kappa Psi had 69 people interested in pledging, ending with 37 being initiated. Swartz believes the popularity increase is because each of their officers are in charge of different responsibilities. AKPsi even has a specific public relations position that focuses on promoting the organization the entire semester.
“I think it also has a lot to do with word of mouth,” Swartz said. “People have such a good experience in AKPsi that they want to tell others about it. They want to say how they’ve progressed and what they’ve learned from it.”
Campus Recreation program participation has also seen involvement numbers grow over the past couple years. ARC participation rose from 302,582 participants in 2012-13 to 318,791 in 2013-14. Between ARC participation, aquatics, group exercise, intramural sports, outdoor adventures and safety certifications, participation reached 345,895 in 2013-14. Director of Campus Recreation, Greg Sferra, said one thing that gets their volume up is tradition.
“Intramurals are the roots of campus recreation because contemporary programs evolved from there,” Sferra said. “Every year we add or delete from our menu of programs based on participation and what’s trendy.”
Sferra said campus recreation offers a lot of leadership opportunities; participants, club sport officers, intramural captains, intramural officials and student employees. Sferra also believes a good leader quality includes training the next generation.
“People are in their roles because they enjoy it and they want to improve it and make it better,” Sferra said. “You want to hand your position off in a better place than it was when you inherited it and you want the people coming in to understand so they can keep it successful.”
Swartz said her college experience would not be anything like it is today if she was just a regular student. She believes SRU provides students with many opportunities to get involved and learn much more than you could from a class room setting.
The main thing Rindy would stress is that a leadership role doesn’t have to be president or vice president.
“A lot of employers will want to know how you handle being under pressure or how you deal with people who disagree with you,” Rindy said. “Well if you never put yourself in a situation where that never happens, how are you going to talk about it?”
happens, how are you going to talk about it?”