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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 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 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"

by Kristen Franklin (kjfrank@gwu.edu)
Image from XETX Xerox Translator

With the GW student population spanning over 130 countries, GW Housing has taken the proactive measure to support and enhance the student experience by purchasing the Xerox Easy Translator Service app for out Xerox machine. This app has the capability to translate documents into numerous languages, which assists our office in both translating our documents into students’ native languages and translating documents received from students in other languages to English.

By utilizing this tool, we are able to provide students with an increased understanding of the documents they are signing, such as the Housing License Agreement, and help to clarify any questions they may have. Outside of housing, other departments may find this app helpful in translating advising guides, codes of student conduct, applications, directions, or FAQs.

If you have a Xerox machine, you may download the translator app by visiting the application gallery on the machine and then contacting Xerox to complete the installation. ...continue reading "Utilizing Technology to Better Serve Our Students"

by Kristen Franklin (kjfrank@gwu.edu)

Getting into college and planning for your first year is a very exciting time for most students. One of the first things that most new students must do is complete a housing application if they are planning to live on campus. For most, this is simply another rite of passage but for students who do not identify on the gender binary, this can be an anxiety-inducing moment. Will they be in a safe environment? What will happen if they are assigned roommates? Are roommates assigned based on biological sex? In order to help address some of these concerns, many universities have introduced a gender neutral or gender-inclusive housing option.

GW began offering gender inclusive housing to all students in 2010. The initiative was student-led but gained buy-in from faculty, staff, alumni, and parents by creating different working groups that examined from a diverse set of perspectives how this initiative could affect the on campus living experience. ...continue reading "Creating a Gender Inclusive Housing Process"

by Lauren Way (lway@gwu.edu)

The Faculty in Residence and Faculty Guide program at GW is a partnership between Academic Affairs and the Center for Student Engagement. The program has ten Faculty in Residence who live in apartments in the residence halls and welcome students into their homes, and ten Faculty Guides who facilitate educational and cultural development through community building in designated halls.

Faculty in Residence and Faculty Guides host programs, events, and have informal interactions with GW residential students and help foster a stronger sense of community and build relationships between students and faculty. Students are able to interact with faculty from disciplines that they may not have encountered yet, and they form individual relationships with faculty who become mentors, advisors, and resources for them throughout their time at GW. ...continue reading "Faculty Connecting with Students Outside the Classroom"

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