***This article was produced by a student leader at Drexel University. This student chose to publish this article anonymously to protect their position and to avoid possible retribution.***
Drexel student organizations are f**king broken. It’s a problem. This is not unique to any one student organization, but maybe some more than others. Definitely the one I’m part of.
I’m a senior in one of the most demanding majors at Drexel. I’m also trying to transition out of being president of a large student organization and hand off my many responsibilities gracefully to the younger generation. And this is really hard for me. Especially when the younger generation are either away on co-op, or enjoying that sweet, sweet freshman summer.
Student turnaround at Drexel makes it really hard to build a community that can sustain active student organizations. This fall, we’re losing three very important people to out-of-town co-ops. Our freshmen have been out of the loop for a whole summer and last spring’s graduated seniors have fallen off the face of the Earth. Everyone else is busy and fractured between school, work and other activities in Philadelphia. It’s near impossible to reach everyone or hold all-hands-on-deck meetings in person. Especially when Drexel Event and Conference Services won’t respond to your friendly emails about room reservations. What a mess.
The Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee, known as SAFAC, is a group of students appointed by the Undergraduate Student Government Association to fund the student organizations of Drexel University. USGA is elected by the student body, but it is important to note that this year’s incoming candidates ran mostly unopposed. Student organizations submit yearly budget proposals to SAFAC to determine their funding. This year, SAFAC gave my student organization a budget one-third of last year’s and knocked us down a class. Why? Because we committed the cardinal sin of not posting any events on Dragonlink, Drexel’s clunky, HTTP-500-error-riddled excuse for a student social networking site that nobody goes on anyway. Did we have events? Yes. Did we document them properly? No. Can we appeal it? No. I wonder how many other organizations got hit with this.
And who’s supposed to help student organizations with problems like this? The Student Organization Resource Center? What do they actually do, other than putting up bureaucratic roadblocks and offering infantilizing “leadership training”? It would be lovely if they actually communicated with their student organizations. I’m not asking for much —a monthly check-in, perhaps? Some support with setting up events? Free coffee for student leaders?
And what about our faculty advisor? He is much more concerned with his primary responsibilities as a department head than checking in on daily operations of his student organization. I can’t blame him for that — it’s his job, after all. His laissez-faire attitude can be really nice most of the time, but it presents its own set of challenges.
To incoming freshmen: I know I sound bitter, but the reason I’m writing this is because of how much I care about my student organization. I grudgingly admit that it has been a net good in my college experience. It has kept me at Drexel through trying times, and gave me lifelong friends and a lot of incredible memories. It also taught me leadership skills that elude people twice my age.
So, when you get the chance, join a student organization. The work you’ll do outside of classes is the stuff you’ll remember. Student organizations are the most fun of all resume-building opportunities. But, when you join a student organization, try hard to make it better. Build community. Recruit your friends. Laugh through the sleepless nights and difficult choices.
Don’t let your school behave like it takes your hard work for granted. Don’t settle for halfhearted general body meetings and budgets entirely consisting of Ed’s Pizza. Don’t give up, because that’s the attitude that we, as Drexel students, need.