Clubs struggle with communication from Office of Student Life

Dana Montevideo, Managing Editor

After Phi Theta Kappa’s charter status was revoked, president Brenna Smark is relieved she doesn’t have to work with the Office of Student Life anymore.

Due to scheduling issues and missing attendance at ICC meetings, PTK no longer operates as a club and is now considered a community on campus. PTK is an honor society, and membership depends on academic status and is a national organization that is eligible to receive funding outside the OSL. Smark says the only difference now is that they don’t use OSL funds and don’t have to go through all their paperwork.

“That’s where we wanted to be in the first place and we had to go through all this to get to that place,” Smark said.

PTK needs specialized support that Smark says the OSL can’t always provide for them and prefers just being a community on campus.

Other clubs have had common concerns with the OSL, especially a lack of communication and seemingly unorganized interactions.

Naomi Benson recently became president of the French Club. She turned in all her paperwork about her transition to president, but never heard any responses back. Instead of waiting for confirmation from the clubs board, she took the role as president.

“When I sent the forms to actually state that I was becoming president, she didn’t say that I officially became president,” Benson said. “The forms were sent, and I just kind of jumped into it after a few days.”

She is now accepted as president of French club, so there are no problems anymore, but she wishes the communication would have made things less difficult.

Sean Cooke, director of Student Life, says the chief concern in the OSL’s relationship with clubs is communication. The OSL works to communicate as much as they can to club leaders, without adding more work for the students.

Cooke explains that they listen to the needs of students and try to change the paperwork and systems to make it easier to complete. Cooke acknowledges that being the leader of a club is not easy. However, the OSL is limited in what they are able to offer clubs.

“If you’re a club and you want to have an event, you’re going to have to put in hard work. It’s going to take time, it’s gonna take time out of your schedule, you’re going to have to actually plan and come in and meet with the clubs board,” Cooke said.

Clubs coordinators like Angela Madrid don’t always like to be the person who has to say no to clubs. However, they are not able to provide clubs everything they want at times.

“We are able to provide more services the more that we know,” Madrid said. “We don’t mean to make it excessive, we are trying to cut down on some of the paperwork for next year, but as for now it’s just not meaning to be excessive.”

The OSL works through a bureaucratic system; there are certain limitations, policies and budgets that they need to follow when working with clubs. Some of these include paperwork for organizing events, budget cutoffs, contracts with Lancer Catering and other rules they must follow that the college requires.

“I want every club to feel like they get the support and help that they’re looking for,” Cooke said. “We can’t give everybody what they want. We can do what we can do and always try to get better.”

President of Cosplay Club, Daniel Thayer, is frustrated with the way the OSL works with clubs. They feel they are completely unhelpful.

“They get paid for this and we don’t,” Thayer said. “We gotta like, do other things. They just have much more free time than us a lot of the time because we have like jobs because we don’t get paid to do this club stuff and they’re treating it like it’s some sort of honor to do this, and it’s like ‘no, you’re making this much harder than it needs to be.’”

Thayer feels restricted by certain rules and like they are forced to follow policies that they may not prefer for their clubs, like going through Lancer for food.

“They’re required to go to Lancer first, and I don’t like the bureaucracy of that. I don’t like the fact that we’re forced to use a certain resource simply because the school has been,” Thayer said.

Clubs coordinator Phuong Do mentions that clubs are not required to use Lancer, but they are encouraged. Lancer is quicker, the OSL has funds so it is cheaper and there is less paperwork than if they use an outside vendor. Do worked with a club that wanted to order food from an outside vendor, and the process took three to four weeks, while with Lancer it could only take 30 minutes.

Thayer is frustrated with the OSL’s organization and helpfulness. They recall a time when Thayer turned in paperwork early to request a space for their club to meet. When Thayer went to their clubs coordinator to ask whether or not they had access to a room, Thayer received an aggressive response, “‘did you turn in your paperwork?’”
Thayer was agitated because they had turned in their paperwork, but it had gotten lost or misplaced.

Because of instances like this, Thayer believes the OSL doesn’t care about smaller clubs, in fact, they feel OSL doesn’t care about clubs at all.

For Madrid, that isn’t the case.

“I love being a clubs coordinator because I get to work with so many great people inside and outside the office,” Madrid said. “I love seeing our students and their passions for their things like sports or identity based groups, like I just love seeing that and I support it 100% because I believe everybody deserves a place to belong.”

Madrid wants to make sure all clubs and club leaders feel included and that they know they can come to the clubs board for personal help. Do says students are always welcome to come to clubs coordinators for help. They are always willing to assist clubs leaders with filling out paperwork and find the best resources for events.

Do is frustrated when clubs don’t turn in their work on time, and it may push back the process when planning events. On the other hand, many clubs leaders say they turn in their work on time but don’t hear a response back by deadline.

Clubs coordinators work closely with clubs’ paperwork, budgeting and club leaders. They are a resource for clubs leaders, but sometimes working out budgeting, planning events, etc. can be a lengthy process. Cooke is concerned that club members don’t want to make appointments with clubs board and try to get a long process done too quickly.

“There’s a lot of clubs who are just trying to pop into the office and handle something in 10 minutes that requires an hour of work,” Cooke said. “Something we can do better to help clubs is to set reasonable expectations for what kind of work their events and plans are going to entail.”

Club leaders and members of the OSL seem to have one primary problem: communication. Club leaders like Smark and Thayer are frustrated when they do paperwork from last year because they didn’t receive any updates for the new paperwork. However, in the OSL, they are working to change the paperwork to meet students’ needs more. Because of this, there is a lack of communication and can be frustrating for both sides.

The members of the OSL advise club members to attend meetings like ICC and Clubs 101. At these meetings, clubs members are notified about updates in paperwork and other information. Cooke thinks this is an essential part of clubs understanding what the quarter is going to look like for them.

However, some club members are unable to attend these meetings because them and the rest of their club may have class or other commitments. Thayer personally doesn’t see the benefit of going to multiple Clubs 101 meetings, but the OSL ensures them that it is necessary and may answer some frequently asked questions.  


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Clubs struggle with communication from Office of Student Life

by Dana Montevideo time to read: 6 min