BY RYANN DANNELLY
Student leaders discussed new ideas for collaborating among on-campus organizations and heightened communication between the organizations and the study body during the second Student Leader Town Hall Meeting.
The Second Student Leader Town Hall Meeting was held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2 in the Keller Hall Reception Room.
The first Student Leader Town Hall Meeting occurred last semester and focused on different ways of improving campus life. "During the first meeting we ranked what we thought the most pressing issues that needed to be addressed in relationship to the students and the organizations on campus," Joey Greener, the vice president of Campus Activity Board said. "In the end it was decided that we needed to focus on communication and collaboration."
Student leaders from different organizations were invited to the meeting to discuss and give their input into ways of improving the communication and collaboration.
"The positive feedback we received during the first meeting helped us to create the second meeting with our focus this time on networking around campus as a way to reach out to the different student organizations," said Kate Fleischer, chairwoman of the Senate for WCGA.
One example of an organization in which the student leaders discussed new collaboration and communication was Residence Assistants roles involving the students compared to the role of Orientation Advisers. "There is not a natural transition from the Orientation Advisers to the Residence Assistants," Phylicia Hoyt, the chairwomen of student affairs explained.
OAs are able to spend quality time with the residents in their groups and are therefore usually the ones that the freshman converse with and ask questions to, Hoyt said. The RAs are usually distanced from the freshman because they are not given that same opportunity to bond and get to know the people living near them, Hoyt said.
"This mentality creates an unnecessary animosity toward RAs for most students’ remaining college experience," Hoyt said. "Instead of using their RAs as a resource and mentor, like students should, students remain distant from their RAs because they only associate them with writing students up." Hoyt said that if RAs were more involved in orientation, the stigma against them could disappear.
The RAs, however, are not the only organization on campus who could benefit from better communication and collaboration.
"If communication between the different organizations on campus increased, we could decrease the excessive number of repetitive events that different organizations create by combining them," Greener said. "Take, for example, the large number of small blood drives that occur on our campus yearly. If we combined all of them into one massive blood drive, I think the results would be better for effective for everyone."
The University of Richmond Emergency Medical Services could benefit from an increase in communication with the students and new collaboration with other organizations, Matthew Palmisano, the supervisor and vice president of operations for the UR EMS said.
"A lot of students don’t understand what our amnesty policy implies and how it can help them," Palmisano said. "People are afraid to call us if they’ve been heavily drinking for fear of getting in trouble. If they only knew that our amnesty policy protects them from getting in trouble, more people might call and we would be able to help more students in need."
Not only does Palmisano want better communication with the students in order for them to understand all that the UR EMS does, but he also wants to collaborate with different organizations as well. He siad that working closer with OAs and RAs could help to increase the student populations understanding of what the EMS does and keep more students from reaching the point of intoxication where help is needed.
The UR EMS also wants to create a blood drive this year, Palmisano said. "The campus hosts many blood drives yearly," Palmisano said. "Instead of just creating a new blood drive for the EMS, I think it would be more beneficial if we joined with one of the other blood drives."
With all the ideas and plans for new collaboration, Anthony Crenshaw, the assistant director for student organizations and leadership development gathered all of the student leaders and discussed ways of improving communicating with the student body.
"I hear around campus the same two ideas repeated over and over again," Crenshaw said. "People either tell me that nothing ever happens on this campus, or that they don’t know how to meet people and get involved."
In order to solve both of those problems, as well as the problems of communication and collaboration, Crenshaw has created a Google calendar with every event that student organizations give him that can be accessed through the Student Activities website. However, there are a few things that Crenshaw and the student leaders argued that needed to be addressed with this calendar.
As of now, the only way that organizations and groups can add their events to the calendar is by emailing a Student Activities worker and having the worker adding the event, Greener said.
"We need some way to make this calendar easier to add events to and more accessible to the student population so that everyone will have a way of knowing what is occurring on campus," Greener said. "If we can turn this calendar into the fully functioning calendar that we have in mind, we can also help the process of helping organizations on campus to collaborate because they will be able to locate, in one easy spot, what everyone else is doing and see if they are planning something similar."
With hope for an updated Student Activities calendar and the awareness of the need for collaboration between the different organizations and communication with the student population, the student leaders seem more optimistic, Fleischer said.
"I think we should see the change and progress that we want in the communication and collaboration between the students and the different organizations now that we have had our second meeting," Greener said. "We have the theory down now of what needs to be addressed; now we just need to put that into practice."