By Noah Manskar
The Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs and the Student Involvement Office has recently streamlined the process through which they officially recognize student organizations.
Dana Behum, assistant director of Student Involvement, said student organizations must apply for recognition by the end of the second week of each semester.
The application requires a roster with at least 10 members, a list of executive positions with descriptions of their respective duties, a constitution and bylaws, and a form signed by a university adviser.
Behum said the requirements and application deadlines for recognition are now better publicized and more predictable than before.
The administration also created a packet of forms for applicants to complete that did not previously exist, including a template for a constitution and bylaws.
She said the administration tried the changes in the spring and fixed the “hiccups” before this semester.
“Getting a schedule to the process has made it easier,” Behum said.
Behum said applicants often receive follow-up questions from a committee, composed of a member of the WCSA Finance Committee, a general WCSA representative and a Student Involvement representative, asking them to clarify certain pieces of their application.
Upon recognition, organizations receive benefits from the university, including WCSA funding, space reservations and university van usage.
Senior Iftekhar Showpnil, who is going through the process to register Ohio Wesleyan’s Better Together club, said his organization received such questions regarding their executive positions and the club’s name.
He said he thinks the process is “pretty straightforward,” but puts the majority of the burden on the organizations.
“It’s mostly on the organization to write out the constitution, define the executive positions and elect the executive board,” he said.
Showpnil said he was still unsure of the application deadlines, so he thinks the university could communicate them more successfully to new organizations.
“There is not much information unless you actually go and look for it yourself,” Showpnil said. “I think it is reasonable, because if you’re passionate enough to start a club, you should be motivated to go look up all the details and stuff that is necessary.”
He also said he thinks a rolling application process would be preferable to a single deadline each semester, since it would allow new organizations more flexibility.
“For it to be a rolling process, I do realize that it has to be a little bit more work on (the administration’s) part, but it would be better for student organizations in general,” he said.
Sophomore Avery Winston, president of OWU Freethinkers, said getting recognition “can be kind of tedious,” but the process is fairly simple.
“You get enough people, get your paperwork filled out, have an adviser and you’re pretty much set to go,” he said. “That’s pretty much the basis.”
Behum said the process is so thorough because WCSA wants to ensure new organizations have a good foundation before giving them funds.
“WCSA members are cautious to make sure that people are well intentioned with a club and that they’re not just forming a club to receive funding,” she said. “They want to make sure that the organization has a more broad approach than just spending money. So it’s a thorough partnership, I’d say.”
Winston said procuring WCSA funds can be challenging but he understands why the process is in place.
“Obviously you’re getting money to spend on your club and they obviously want people to be responsible with it,” he said. “It seems tedious, I guess, but at the end it’s pretty important to go through certain processes to know what you’re doing.”
Showpnil said receiving funding is one of the most crucial benefits of recognition for organizations such as Better Together because they need funds to plan projects and host events.
According to Behum, organizations must meet certain requirements after recognition to remain in good standing with the university.
These include attending a seminar on using OrgSync, the university’s form sharing and organizing site, attending university leadership events like OWU Summit and GoOWU and each member of the organization maintaining a GPA of at least 2.0.
Behum said WCSA regularly reviews organizations to ensure they’re meeting these requirements and decide how much funding to give them.
“They do a significant amount of review and I think they do a good job of disbursing funds evenly amongst groups, but being a group doesn’t necessarily equal a guarantee of funds,” she said.
Winston said being in good standing with the university makes it easier for to get funds, and the requirements are beneficial to both the university and students.
“They try to help you out with being a leader, and knowing what you’re doing with your funding and knowing how to keep track of people in your group,” Winston said. “It helps you out with learning how to plan events and everything else that a club really entails.”
Showpnil said he thinks the biggest obstacle for new organizations is finding a strong member base.
“The most challenging part is to get people excited and involved so that you can have a governing body, which would allow you to register your organization,” Showpnil said.
“The process requires you to have some sort of member support, some sort of body already set up, so that they know that it wouldn’t fail right away if they approved it. I think that’s a good thing, because it pushes us to get more structured and more organized than just a one-man club.”
Winston, who took over Freethinkers last spring, said it’s been hard for his club to rebuild a member base.
“It can be stressful if you have a hard time finding a good base of people,” Winston said. “You really want to get it off the ground, but if you don’t have the numbers you won’t be able to do it.”