By Bridget Sjoberg | Staff Writer
When it comes to campus resources and organizations, the new Student Involvement Center in the Bill Daniel Student Center is the place to get connected.
The Student Involvement Center is located on the SUB’s first floor across from Common Grounds and is currently in a soft opening phase as of Monday, but will officially be promoted as ready for use on Oct. 8 with a grand opening soon to come, according to Berenice Andaluz Ruiz, coordinator of student organizations and leader development on campus.
One of the spot’s main functions is to include access to a variety of resources like rentals options and supplies made available for student organizations to use, especially when it comes to meetings and planning events. Jordy Dickey, assistant director of the Student Union, said she hopes students take advantage of the center’s resources.
“It will provide a one-stop shop for organizations to have access to resources that will allow them to put on successful events,” Dickey said. “It’ll also be a spot to make copies and provide access to poster-making materials, markers, pens, chalk and other things. They’ll also manage tent rentals, water cooler rentals, sound system rentals — it’ll allow students not to have to go to multiple spots on campus. Students can map out their events and have access to incredible resources at a free cost.”
Along with making a variety of resources available for student groups, the Student Involvement Center is the new home of the Student Involvement Specialist program, which pairs students struggling to get involved with a peer leader who can help connect them to activities they’re interested in. Andaluz Ruiz is in her second year of overseeing the program and sees it as a great way for students to get connected on campus.
“We’re there to help students find their involvement home and chart their path,” Ruiz said. “For students who haven’t joined an organization or found a way to get involved, the student involvement specialists are the perfect people to contact and make that happen.”
The program began a few years back in an effort to connect students to activities in a setting other than Late Night, and to pair students with peers in an unintimidating environment.
“Late Night is a great way for students to meet organizations but can also be incredibly overwhelming — leaders have told me that a lot of students they meet with went to Late Night and were overwhelmed. Sometimes students need someone to tailor it down,” Ruiz said. “Students meeting other students is less intimidating, and you’re meeting with a peer who has been through this — you’re sharing an experience together.”
Ruiz said being a student involvement specialist is an internship position, and that applications are available the beginning of every semester. The group is collaborative and knowledgeable about student organizations in a variety of departments.
“Any non-Greek organization on campus has a student involvement specialist assigned to them specifically, so they work with student leaders of those organizations to go through policy and make sure are knowledgeable about different sectors of campus life. It’s a very collaborative position, and they lean on each other for information,” Ruiz said.
Students can make walk-in appointments to meet with a student involvement specialist at the Student Involvement Center, as well as submit a request form on Connect or email general questions about involvement to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dickey said she hopes the Student Involvement Center’s location on the first floor of the SUB acts as a way to bring students together and get them connected to campus life.
“Having the Center within the heartbeat of the SUB puts it in a very student-centered space — they’ll already be there grabbing their mail, some coffee or a game day ticket,” Dickey said. “We intentionally designed it that way. It also plays into a larger vision to enhance the first floor as a place to connect — that’s what we strive for. The Student Involvement Center is a catalyst for new, exciting changes in the building.”
Dickey encourages students looking to get involved to meet with a Student Involvement Specialist or approach a student life office on campus. Ruiz advises students to put themselves out there and meet people from different campus groups.
“Don’t compare your journey with anyone else’s,” Ruiz said. “Be confident in your own journey. Even if you don’t know anyone, try to work up the courage to go to meetings, so you can meet people and find activities that interest you.”