by Kaitlyn Schmitt (kschmitt@gwu.edu)

“How do I start a new organization?” Student activities professionals are often asked this question. At GW, there are nearly 500 student organizations, so it’s hard to imagine there are other ideas for organizations, but our students are continuously identifying new opportunities and unmet needs. In 2016, the Center for Student Engagement implemented a new robust process for organization formation. The completely revised process has allowed us to integrate developmental checkpoints with newly formed student organizations, contributing to greater success and sustainability of new organizations.

The Philosophy

Prior to 2016, the new organization formation process was simple and informal: meet with a staff member from the CSE and submit a constitution and a roster. In general, if an organization completed these steps, they would gain recognition. Although the CSE reserved the right to decline recognition, without a formal rubric or set of standards by which to offer approval, we lacked the credibility and legitimacy to do so regularly. This led to the gratuitous approvals of redundant organizations and organizations which lacked solid strategy or leadership. Further, the informal nature of the process resulted in applications from students lacking the commitment and level of dedication required to start and run a new organization. The new process addresses this. ...continue reading New Organization Formation: How To Set Them Up for Success [Infographic]

by Kaitlyn Schmitt (kschmitt@gwu.edu)

In the field of student affairs, these days it seems most professionals would agree that assessment and data-based decision-making are important. But reporting results to stakeholders? That’s something we’re not so good at as a field. In the Center for Student Engagement (CSE) at George Washington University, we set out to improve how we report assessments results and tell our story - and that’s how the CSE Blog, entitled You’ve Been Engaged, was founded.

About the Blog

The Center for Student Engagement is a large department at GW consisting of 34 full-time staff covering several functional areas: residence life, housing, student involvement, Greek life, leadership education programs, outdoor education, community support for special populations, and more. The CSE Assessment Committee was formed in January 2017 to coordinate assessment efforts across the department and with the Division of Student Affairs. We noticed that while the CSE conducted a lot of assessments and gathered a lot of data, we struggled with closing the assessment loop: ensuring we were making decisions based on the data collected and reporting those results and decisions to stakeholders. To address this, in September 2017 we launched the blog, You’ve Been Engaged. ...continue reading The First Year of the CSE Blog

by Charlotte McLoud (cmcloud@gwu.edu)

The best advice I ever received from a professor in graduate school was, “Find a space to call home in the profession.  The work that we do is not easy; home will keep you grounded”. As my professional journey leads me to and through various opportunities, projects, institutions, and challenges, engaging with like-minded educators have been essential to my success and well-being.  ACPA has been that place for me. Here are six reasons why:

1. Pre-Convention Sessions

While pre-convention sessions are not unique to ACPA, they have definitely added significant value to my conference experience.  Pre-Convention sessions are typically daylong or half-day workshops dedicated to discussing best policies, guiding philosophies, and campus implications of a particular topic.  In past years, I received my Mental Health First Aid program certification, as well as attended a session about Title IX compliance and interpersonal education. If you are looking for a jump-start to your conference experience, check out the pre-convention sessions offered! ...continue reading Livin’ My Best Life: 6 Things I Love about ACPA

by Natalie Hershberger (nhershberger@gwu.edu) and Lin Philpott (philpott@gwu.edu)

Connectedness is a key factor in student success and retention. Students who are engaged in the academic and social life of a college campus are more likely to persist to graduation. This engagement includes students developing meaningful relationships with peers, faculty, and staff as well as building strong academic bonds in and outside the classroom.

The beginning of the first year of college is a pivotal time for creating student connections among individuals and with the university. Among many avenues for creating connections, the Center for Student Engagement offers two pre-semester, co-curricular programs for new incoming students: Adventure Bound and LEAD GW. These programs ease participants’ transition to college and helps students build connections with the campus community before classes even begin. ...continue reading Leveraging Pre-Semester, Co-Curricular Programs to Support Student Success

by Natalie Hershberger (nhershberger@gwu.edu) and Bridgette Behling (bbehling@gwu.edu)

The Center for Student Engagement (CSE) Leadership Programs empower students to explore and build their leadership potential through a variety of co-curricular workshops and programs. Through our work, we want to produce ethical leaders who can think critically and take action to meet the challenges of today’s world and a future that we can’t yet imagine.

Leadership, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication are among the top skills employers list as the most essential aspects of a new hire. Students should be able to articulate the specific leadership skills they learned at GW and how that makes them a stand out candidate for future internship, career, and graduate school opportunities. ...continue reading Cultivating Socially Responsible Leaders through a Personalized Framework

by Kaitlyn Schmitt (kschmitt@gwu.edu)

As part of their 2018 Commencement Guide, the GW Hatchet student newspaper reported on graduating student leaders' reflections on their involvement. The students discussed positive outcomes from their involvement in student organizations, including:

  • Applying skills they learned about in class to their student organizations,
  • Leveraging leadership experience in job interviews, and
  • Feeling a greater sense of belonging and community.

The Center for Student Engagement is committed to cultivating these positive outcomes through student organizations - part of why CSE staff have dedicated over 2,500 hours in the last academic year to advising student organizations. We're thrilled these students and many others have experienced these positive outcomes, and we will continue to encourage the involvement of incoming and current students to promote the opportunities to practice leadership, apply transferable skills, and feel connected to one another and to GW.

by Bob Wu (bobwu22@gwu.edu) and Kaitlyn Schmitt (kschmitt@gwu.edu)

The Joint Elections Commission (JEC) is a select group of five students responsible for administering the student body elections. Appointed in December 2017, the student members of the 2018 JEC recruited candidates, oversaw campaigning, and encouraged students to vote in elections for the Student Association, Program Board, and Class Council. This year, we undertook several new initiatives to improve the student body elections.

Comprehensive Candidate Recruitment

A campaign season is nonexistent without candidates, and this year’s Commission placed a high priority on recruiting candidates across the University’s spectrum of colleges and undergraduate and graduate populations. We employed a variety of strategies to inform students of both the ability to run for student government, and the importance it has to our campus community. In the weeks before candidate registration officially began, we created and placed individualized blurbs in each of the University’s college newsletters, informing students of the opportunity to run for office. We also tabled at the Spring Student Organization Fair and within District House, a large student hub on campus, providing handouts and additional details for interested candidates. Finally, in tandem with student government leadership, the Commission hosted three information sessions for prospective candidates to obtain campaign calendar details and receive tips from current leaders on running a successful campaign. ...continue reading Reflections on Elections: Behind the Scenes of GW’s Student Elections

by Allen Rakotoniaina (allenrako@gwu.edu)

In the fast-paced life of a college student, leadership and teamwork skills are emphasized not only in academic curricula, but also in extracurricular activities, including campus involvement and internships. However, without a forum in which to practice, it can be a daunting task to translate the concepts of leadership and teamwork into real-world activities.

Enter the GW SUMMIT Outdoor Challenge Course.

As the only low ropes course located inside the District of Columbia, SUMMIT offers a convenient and unique opportunity for George Washington University undergraduate and graduate students to apply and develop individual leadership skills and build team cohesion. Many of GW’s student organizations (who participate for free), co-curricular and leadership programs such as Women’s Leadership Program and LEAD GW, and University departments use the Course as a mechanism to achieve a variety of learning outcomes. Since its opening in 2005, SUMMIT has hosted groups from American and Georgetown Universities, academic programs from the Washington Center and the Cyprus Bi-Communal Youth Institute, U.S. Government agencies, and corporate teams such as Fannie Mae and Capital One. This broad client base has contributed to the nearly 1,600 participants welcomed to the Course from summer 2017 though the 2017-2018 academic year. ...continue reading Reaching the SUMMIT: Peak Leadership and Team Development

How I Attacked Imposter Syndrome through Involvement in ACPA

by Ron Alexander (ronalexander@gwu.edu)

When I entered student affairs as a professional, I learned about the term “Imposter Syndrome” from a colleague and supervisor in my first professional Residence Director role. Wikipedia defines impostor syndrome as "a psychological pattern in which people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a 'fraud'." A constant theme that I have experienced in my time as a professional was not feeling like I belonged or that I deserved any type of award for the work that I did. In meetings (and I am still guilty of this), I wouldn't speak up, offer feedback, or engage in dialogue just because I had this internal discourse about  “who am I” or “I am at the bottom of the totem pole.” American College Personnel Association (ACPA) was the involvement and change agent I needed to find my worth in student affairs.

I came to know about ACPA in 2013 in a conversation with a current graduate student at Vanderbilt (who is now my colleague and friend Charlotte McLoud), and she told me about this organization that she was involved in and how it had shaped her experience in student affairs thus far, especially within the social justice realm. Charlotte encouraged me to look into the work that ACPA was currently doing in respects to professionals of color, social justice and inclusion, and racial injustice. Fast forward to 2015, a great opportunity arose! ...continue reading Imposter Syndrome and the Importance of Professional Associations

by David Marquis (dmarquis@gwu.edu)

Four undergraduate students standing alone on stage transformed my experience and helped refocus my career path. This year, the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) chose to end a day of the annual conference with student stories and how the Union impacted them.

There were several thought provoking speakers during the conference, such as Soul Pancake CEO Shabnam Mogharabi and NPR host Celeste Headlee. However, none brought so many in the audience on a whirlwind trip of emotion as the “Student Voices Panel.” I admittedly was convinced prior to the session that I knew what I was signing up for - students sharing a bit of their experience - and I was not expecting to be impressed. After all, I had seen student panels before, and while I always found them somewhat interesting, I felt they quickly descend into specific questions about who the students are as individuals or generalizations about the identities the students hold. Instead, this time, when the lights went down, we witnessed a TED-style story told by each of the four students from the stage. ...continue reading The Impact of a Student Union