By Hannah Smith, Sept. 13, 2022
The Office of Student Life & Cultural Centers has now divided into two departments — the office of Student Engagement, Leadership and Success and the Centers for Transformation, Retention, Equity and Empowerment.
The Office of Student Life & Cultural Centers used to be the main department that handled all business regarding the cultural centers as well as clubs and organizations, fraternities and sororities and leadership development. After surveying the campus last academic year, Jonathan Grady, senior associate vice president and dean of students, worked with students and faculty to split OSLCC into the two new departments.
“A lot of the recommendations were that students love the community building, the sense of pride that comes from these spaces and students recognized that they needed more,” said Grady. “They needed more resources, they needed more support, they really wanted to see more programs, more staffing, more budget in these spaces, to continue to do the things that they’ve done.”
Through the surveys and workshops with students and faculty it was determined that to meet student needs, the development of two separate departments is what would benefit the students most. OSLCC staff as well as students worked together to workshop the dynamics of these two new departments including the goals of the departments and the names.
The Centers for Transformation, Retention, Equity and Empowerment now house all the cultural centers and the office for Student Engagement, Leadership and Success now houses clubs and organizations, fraternity and sorority life, as well as leadership development. Though OSLCC split into two separate departments, staffing remained the same, with positions that were vacant before the split currently being filled and previous coordinators remaining in their roles, with new titles to fit their new respective departments. Both departments will continue to provide the same services students came to expect from OSLCC.
“Both departments, both TREE and SELS, although we are two separate departments, we are still student centered, so our goal and primary missions are still to support students,” said La’Keisha Beard, interim director for SELS.
While services will remain the same for students, the goals for these two departments are shifting to focus more on student retention, especially students within the cultural centers who often belong to marginalized communities. The former positions of coordinator for the cultural centers will also now be referred to as retention coordinators to emphasize the focus of retention within the various cultural centers and student organizations.
“If we are really going to support our students’ development and graduation rates, we really need everyone’s support in ensuring that that happens,” said Armando Madrid, associate dean of students. “And that is including our faculty, our staff, our student groups, everyone, to really elevate the work that has been done but also how to we continue to move that work forward.”
With the two departments creating more opportunities for students to get the resources they need; the hope is that student involvement along with retention and graduation rates will grow. The faculty members of SELS and TREE are also partnering with academic affairs to ensure that values instilled within the cultural centers and clubs are respected and upheld within the classroom as well. This partnership between academic affairs and the two departments is meant to ensure retention and graduation rates increase, due to students having support across campus.
Students are encouraged to make these departments work for them, by attending town hall meetings, filling out surveys and attending events put on by these two centers. On September 8 TREE hosted a mixer event where students could go around to each cultural center and learn more about them while enjoying food and music. According to Grady and Madrid, students can expect to see more of these events where students can connect with campus resources.
“I anticipate greater visibility given to clubs and organizations and the work that they do and the impact that they have on students,” said Beard.
Students can learn more about TREE and SELS by visiting their website.
Feature image courtesy of Hannah Smith
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