Engaging the Department of Student Engagement
Brandeis prides itself on its student-driven clubs and organizations, but this board believes that the Department of Student Engagement struggles to facilitate the infrastructure necessary to aid student organizations. The department has set goals for the 2022-2023 academic year, with items such as “Establish itself as a new department” and “prioritize efficiency in operations, program, policy, technology, and budget management.” This board is very conscious of the fact that the Department of Student Engagement is a newly-reconfigured department and requires some time to create effective infrastructure. With that being said, there continues to be a severe disconnect between the department and students.
The University has approximately 200 student-led organizations, who all have to navigate the limited space on campus. Booking rooms for club meetings and events has become a source of anxiety and stress for club leaders. This board has members who have experienced many room complications, including triple-booked spaces and room assignments that are inaccessible due to construction.
Furthermore, under the requesting space page on the Brandeis website, there is a form for only a set number of spaces on campus. Most of these spaces, such as the Shapiro Campus Center Atrium and the Great Lawn, are not conducive to the vast majority of weekly club meetings. If a club wants to reserve another room they must go to yet another link , bringing them to a new page with a list of numbers and forms. While this in itself is not overwhelming, members of this board have had experiences where the desired room is unavailable, so students may have to go through the process multiple times. The uncertainty that comes with booking a room makes it more challenging for clubs and organizations to publicize their meetings and events. This board believes there needs to be a more streamlined way for clubs to book rooms so clubs can focus on creating a fun out-of-class environment for students. Although this board is specifically highlighting room reservations, there are many other facets of event and club planning that need to be streamlined, such as receiving packages for events and the details of club finances.
There are board members who have gone through various training for student leaders offered by the Department of Student Engagement, and the general consensus among these members was that it was largely ineffective. Club leaders were required to complete multiple hours of training and were still left with questions. Since many students are required to juggle coursework, run their club, and possibly work a job, spending an exorbitant amount of time on training adds unnecessary strain. The Department of Student Engagement offers many trainings aimed at developing leadership skills, but they fail to discuss the nuances of truly implementing student leadership duties, such as booking a room. Instead, these trainings include delegation, goal setting, and motivation. This board acknowledges the efforts made by the department, but there continues to be a need for administrators to support student leaders. Not only are student leaders left to learn club organization techniques on their own, but they are often required to do the labor of training the other rising student leaders. This board believes that there needs to be more effective guidance and training from the Department of Student Engagement so clubs can reach their full potential without being bogged down by complicated logistics.
Brandeis students are dedicated to their clubs. They find purpose and community within these organizations, but there are obstacles put in place that make it difficult for clubs to operate smoothly. This board understands that the new Department of Student Engagement is still trying to find the best system to support students, but it’s clear that there needs to be better and easier modes of communication between administration and students.
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