A new path for student groups
Out of the 223 student organizations currently recognized by the ASUO, only 26 have official meeting or office spaces, according to Julie Scroggins, the student organization advisor for the ASUO. The rest make do reserving space wherever available. This usually means students have to haul materials to the location of each meeting.
As part of the Erb Memorial Union remodel, these student organizations will now have the opportunity to take advantage of the Center for Student Involvement Resource Center, which has replaced confined office spaces previously used by several ASUO recognized organizations in favor of an open, free-to-use space.
Some student organizations at the University of Oregon had a hard time finding places to meet before the EMU’s renovation.
“In the past, we had student organizations that had office spaces, and by office spaces, I mean some people were literally in broom closets,” Scroggins said.
Now, those closets have been turned into storage rooms and the walls of the offices have been torn down to create a free-to-use open space for students.
Starting this term, the newly formed CSI will provide a variety of services to UO student organizations in a collaborative effort with ASUO. The new space offers services including advising, expanded use of the UO OrgSync system and the opening of a new Resource Center located in EMU 213.
The CSI is a combination of the Student Activities and Resource Center and the UO Cultural Forum, two former EMU programs committed to the promotion of student involvement on campus, according to Mandy Chong, the program director responsible for the CSI.
The CSI Resource Center has an open meeting area and storage space, and provides event and craft supplies for use by all ASUO recognized student organizations. These resources can also be used by organizations that have registered with the CSI but are either still in the process of starting up or are too small in scope to become ASUO recognized.
The CSI is working to create a welcoming environment for the entire campus community by supporting the UO Student Activities Board in developing events and assisting with campus-wide event planning. The CSI hopes to streamline the process for students interested in starting a student organization, help improve and track event attendance and provide resources such as storage space, computer access and a closet known as the “Supply Nest” that contains craft materials and event supplies available for student use.
“There’s a lot of student organizations on campus and they need support,” said Chong. “This is a great way to get them the support for whatever their endeavors may be.”
The Resource Center also features computers reservable computers for student organizations, easily movable tables and chairs and first-come first-serve long-term storage cabinets that can be reserved on a yearly basis.
According to Carter Fritsch, the programs administrator for the ASUO, the CSI is an independent entity that will be working closely with the ASUO to help facilitate the creation of new student organizations and can assist them in becoming ASUO recognized.
Previously, all student organizations needed to go through the lengthy process of becoming ASUO recognized in order to take advantage of things as simple as consistent meeting spaces, but now they can get a certain level of access by simply registering with the CSI.
“We’re really invested in making this process work for everyone,” said Fritsch. “I can speak as a student, student leader and ASUO executive staff member, that this is one of my highest priorities: to get them access.
The CSI Resource Center is run by a combination of ASUO professional staff and student employees whose main roles are advising and assisting event planning for student organizations. This includes Scroggins, whose role is to help educate student organization leaders on how to establish goals for their organizations and how to utilize the resources the CSI provides.
“The space is intended for ASUO recognized student organizations and student organizations that register through the CSI,” Scroggins said. “To insert a generic idea … the Monopoly club, they just want to get together with a group of people who want to play Monopoly. They don’t really want to be a part of the ASUO because they don’t want to have to create bylaws and attend mandatory meetings. They just want a place to get together and play Monopoly.”
Another resource that the CSI is promoting alongside their new Resource Center is expanded use of OrgSync, which all students will now be automatically signed up for. The CSI is favoring OrgSync over different forms of communication such as email or social media as it is more suited to managing student organizations and seems to be a more reliable way to communicate. Through OrgSync, the CSI will be able to aid in the transition of leadership by giving relevant access to an organization’s new leadership.
“Our hope is that [OrgSync] will be the one place that students will go to find out what’s happening on campus, to get involved and to find their news and information,” said Scroggins.
The CSI has inherited the combined budget of the Student Activities and Resource Center and UO Cultural Forum but has also increased the scope of what it hopes to accomplish with said budget.
Some of the projects that the CSI wishes to enrich with its funds this year: the expansion of the Queer Film Festival and the Intersectional Events team, providing the services of the Resource Center, expanding the weekly Fishbowl Fridays event and maintaining a contingency fund for impromptu events, such as last year’s UCC Vigil, Chong wrote in an email.
Now, all students need to start a club on campus is an idea and a couple of likeminded individuals. No need for bylaws or an abundance of paperwork.
“I’m excited for [CSI],” said Fritsch. “Quite honestly, it should have existed before this. As an organization run by students, the ASUO didn’t have the infrastructure and staffing necessary to create and maintain another status beyond what it already does. I’m really excited to see what happens with our new registered student organizations.
For those interested in the CSI and its new Resource Center, there will be an open house on Oct. 19 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Resource Center, so that students and student organizations can meet the staff, tour the space and mingle. You can find more information about the CSI online at https://emu.uoregon.edu/center-student-involvement.
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