Stop, collaborate and listen

Efficient communication needed between student organizations

The Observer

It is not outlandish to claim that the exact functions of some of the umbrella organizations comprising the Student Executive Council (SEC) have been a source of confusion among the students of Case Western Reserve University. The problems lie in the overlap between organizations. For example, different groups organize similar events, sometimes even on the same days, creating a lack of consistency and efficiency.

The problematic result of overlap is competition. When student groups have not clearly defined the framework within which they operate, they begin to work against each other. This does not cater to the needs of the students of CWRU, nor does it lead to efficient use of the Student Activities Fee, which is the pot of money that funds most student-run events. The Class Officer Collective (COC) represents one SEC organization that has taken corrective steps, and the efforts have born fruit. And now the organization is grabbing recognition beyond the campus bubble.

Last week, The Observer reported that CWRU’s Hudson Relays made Campus Grotto’s list of the top 100 greatest college traditions. The Hudson Relays is an annual event that celebrates the moving of the CWRU campus to Cleveland from Hudson, Ohio. COC organizes the event, which involves a 25-mile relay around the current CWRU grounds. The members of the CWRU community, including undergraduate and graduate students and alumni, are welcome to participate. In short, the tradition celebrates students, past and present.

The nod is well-deserved by COC, whose mission statement emphasizes dedication “to developing, maintaining and celebrating a unique identity within each respective class experience” as well as ambition to “be the primary connection to each student’s unique experience at the University through: facilitating class specific programming, supporting campus traditions, enhancing school spirit and pride and recognizing and celebrating our classmates.” It turns out that this mission statement is what makes COC so special.

Because the group has a defined and distinct mission statement that it consistently follows, it is arguably one of the most successful umbrella organizations. As the advocate for university tradition and class pride, COC has molded itself into a unique and significant part of the CWRU community. Most importantly, by forming around a strong mission statement, it has managed to minimize overlap with other SEC organizations, such as the Residence Hall Association, Undergraduate Student Government and University Program Board.

Yes, these organizations all bring students together, but COC distinguishes itself by evolving into the one group that embraces tradition and unity within each class of CWRU—breathing life into their mission statement. There is an enormous difference between organizations having a broad or otherwise vague definition of their function and an organization whose function within a college community is to the point and consistent. COC belongs to the latter category, and that is worthy of applause. And it is a great way to avoid crippling competition against other SEC groups.

COC also excels at creating ties between students and the other umbrella organizations. The organization often promotes service events where class members may bond, but where members of the Greek Life community may obtain service hours, as well. By combining these two elements from the different aspects of students’ lives, COC proves that it is committed to fostering cooperation rather than competition. Prioritizing support over conflict only strengthens the relationship CWRU students have with SEC organizaitons, and it solidifies the role of these groups as specialists rather than competitors.

All SEC organizations should take note of COC’s success and move closer to their governing documents and away from overlap. But, this responsibility does not rest solely with student groups. It is beyond time for the university to invest in an enterprise calendar solution that accomdates all student organizations and events. The feature set of Google Calendar is too limited, and myExperience (formerly known as SpartanLink and CollegiateLink) has fallen victim to poor marketing and a cumbersome user experience and, as a result, is a mystery to most students. Student leaders need a way to know where and when events are being held so they can avoid needless conflict.

By reducing the unnecessary overlap between student groups, the SEC umbrella organizations would be able to focus more intently on their respective fields and create an atmosphere that embraces efficiency, mutual understanding and fruitful collaboration. After all, isn’t that what we’re paying for?