Office of Student Life leaders have taken on additional responsibilities this year after the resignation of four team members—almost 25 percent of the staff.
Even though the staff size has been reduced, the staff workload has not.
Seventeen student leaders were hired in June for the school year, but one resigned in fall quarter and three resigned in winter quarter.
The student who resigned in the fall was replaced, but it was impractical to replace members who resigned in winter quarter because of the extensive training requirements of the positions.
The duties of those staff members, including campus event planning and execution, have been assumed by the remaining staff members.
Turnover, according to Director of Student Life Sean Cooke, is to be expected as some students find that positions, each at 17 hours a week, don’t work well with their school or family schedules.
“A little bit of turnover is not uncommon,” Cooke said.
Student leaders on occasion may not be able to maintain the minimum grade point average or full-time student status requirements.
“Every year, we will lose a person, at least, for grades, or something like that,” Cooke said. “Or they’ll find out that the realities of the position do not meet what their expectations were.”
The amount of turnover varies year-to-year, but Cooke said the average turnover is relatively low for yearlong, intensive leadership positions.
“We’ve had years where there has been zero turnover, but I couldn’t point a finger at any reason why it was that way,” Cooke said. “Did we do something especially well? Was the team especially connected to each other? Did everyone who came in; did their expectations meet the realities of the position, or vice versa? It’s tough to point a finger at why things happen the way they do from year-to-year.”
This year’s turnover is a result of student resignation. Jaxon Gregory, Nicole Carroll, Brian McQuay and Ryan Morgan, the four members of the Office of Student Life who left their positions, chose to resign. Gregory left his position in the fall, and Carroll, McQuay and Morgan left during winter quarter.
“We’ll have to remove people sometimes, too,” Cooke said, “but we hope to do that as little as possible.”
As the director of the program, Cooke said his No. 1 concern is student success and he supports students seeking employment that best fits their abilities and availability, even if that employment is no longer in the Office of Student Life.
“I eagerly encourage people, “ Cooke said, “that if this isn’t the right thing, seek out something that is fulfilling, or that gives you more time to spend at home with your family, or whatever it is, whatever is going to make them successful. That’s my primary concern.”
He views students leaving their positions as opportunities for the students to make decisions that work best for them.
“I don’t look at turnover always as a bad thing; sometimes it’s just students making the decisions that (when) their life changes, or their situation changes, they want to do whatever works best for them.”
The Office of Student Life is offering 15 positions to Pierce College students for the 2014-2015 school year.
Officials decided to offer two less positions in the office after the cancellation of a federal grant program and to slightly shrink the workload of the staff.
“(Having more positions) really increases the workload on the office in terms of all the events that have to be staffed, and all the paperwork that has to be done; it’s a lot of detail management,” Cooke. “(For those reasons,) we decided to go back to 15.”
Cooke said the Office of Student Life staff plans to change the position structure, especially through positions that connect directly to students and student organizations.
“We want to put in another position connected to clubs and organizations,” Cooke said, “because we really want to focus on increasing the amount of clubs and increasing the support we offer to the clubs we have now, so they have more avenues of support and more points of contact for them to get done what they want or need to get done.”
The number of clubs and their involvement on campus has grown exponentially in the past year, and Cooke hopes that promoting clubs and supporting them through additional student leader assistance will continue the current trend.
“(There have been) some really active clubs, too. I’ve been really excited to see that and I hope what we can do is continue to grow the presence of clubs on this campus, and really make clubs one of the primary ways that students are engaging in activities outside of the classroom is by getting involved in that.”
Cooke hopes that involvement with the Office of Student Life will positively affect students’ experiences at Pierce.
“When I was a student, it (being involved) changed my entire experience—which is why I’m doing this job,” Cooke said.
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