The President’s Commissions at Slippery Rock University are seeking new members for the upcoming academic year.
According to a campus-wide email sent out, the President’s Commissions at SRU lead and engage the University community through educational activities and programs that promote a campus that is open, caring, nurturing, fair and respectful. The commissioners are appointed by the president and range from students, staff, faculty and administrators.
Tina Moser, the chief of staff for the Office of the President, said SRU currently has 8 presidential commissions and it is customary to send out an announcement at this time in the semester to make a call out to the campus for new members for the upcoming academic year.
“Each Commission has its own set of by-laws and carries an average of 18 to 22 members,” Moser said.
Monique Alexander, a co-chair for the Commission for Racial and Ethnic Diversity, said her commission has about 24 members and just received three new student members.
“This is the first time we have had students be part of the organization so that’s been pretty cool,” Alexander said.
She said the commission also has representation from SGA because the social justice committee chair links up with her commission, as well as a representative from Rock PRSSA, the Public Relations student society on campus. She said her commission is technically always recruiting new members.
“I think our commission wants to be the face of equity and inclusion on campus, so if those are topics you are knowledgeable about or ones you find important and valuable to the campus community, then our commission is the place for you to be,” Alexander said.
She said her commission is in the process of auditing their memberships to see who will be staying and who will be going, in order to make room for new members.
On the other hand, Ryan Stryffeler, a co-chair for the Commission for Veterans and Military Affairs, said that his commission has a wait-list and does not currently need new members.
“I’ve got a wait-list, so we don’t need new members, but that is really a good problem to have,” Stryffeler said.
He said that his commission works primarily to advocate for and bring visibility to military affiliated students, which are people in the military, National Guard, ROTC or someone who has a relative who was in the military. Stryffeler said that the biggest misconception is that military-affiliated students are just students who are active in the military.
“Anyone who has served or is getting some type of benefit from a family member’s service is considered military affiliated,” Stryffeler said.
He said his commission works to get visibility on campus, policies, awareness and education for students, faculty and staff.
Alexander said the mission for the Commission for Racial and Ethnic Diversity has a mission to educate, advocate and support students and faculty on campus who declare themselves to be non-white.
“We want to promote a better culture on our campus,” she said. “I think our primary responsibility is to ensure that the students feel like this is a space for them and that faculty on campus can enrich the student experience by bringing programming, having classes, and also being aware of issues that may arise as far as equity and diversity.”
Aside from the Commission for Racial and Ethnic Diversity and the Commission for Veterans and Military Affairs, SRU also has President’s Commissions for Disability Issues, Women, Gender Identity & Expression and Sexual Orientation, Wellness, Sustainability and Mental Health.
Stryffeler said each time a new president comes in, they take away and disband some commissions and add some of their own. He said President Behre kept all of them and added a few.
“I credit this president for being involved in the student body and caring about the student concerns,” Stryffeler said.
He said there is some overlap in some of the commissions, but that it is okay to have a student be part of multiple commissions.
“I am the co-chair for the Veterans and Military Affairs Commission, but we deal with a lot of mental health,” Stryffeler said. “I also had a veteran student who was having mental health issues because they are LGBTQI+, so technically they were part of several commissions.”
He said having these commissions is important to help students. For his commission personally, he wants to make sure students can deal with everything on their plate, both mentally and emotionally.
“We have some people who have seen some things in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we want to make sure they have a relatively normal college experience,” Stryffeler said.
Alexander said she feels it is the president’s job to show people what is going on in the world and what should be important.
“Having these eight Presidential Commissions provides a stamp of approval on topics that might be new, innovative or up and coming,” Alexander said. “The commissions are a way of the president showing what is new and important for our students and our faculty on campus to engage in.”
Stryffeler said he also sees the importance of having these commissions.
“This is all about getting a collection of 25 to 50 smart, intelligent and passionate students, faculty, staff and community members, all of whom feel passionately about a certain issue,” Stryffeler said. “That’s a nice central place for information to flow through. Instead of just having the president’s opinion on an issue, you have an entity that can offer compassion, empathy, guidance and resources that can all funnel through one place and turn out to be more reassuring.”
Interested individuals should send a brief letter of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration. Moser said she will be working with co-chairs at the end of the semester to review membership complement and appoint new members.