When Residence Hall Association president Hoa Tran wanted to register her club for a table at the involvement fair, she was met with a surprising response: No. Her club, like many others on campus, had not fulfilled their registration properly last spring and was therefore not granted club status, a fact which was unbeknownst to her until September.
The office of Student Leadership and Engagement, which oversees all clubs and organizations at USF, denied club status to 18 of the 85 student groups who had petitioned to register but then did not complete their registration on time last May.
Registration was done differently this year, as SLE employed their new online portal OrgSync rather than using paper registration forms. Though this was a change from years past, Darren Pierre, Coordinator of Student Organizations, Advising and Involvement, said there was no reason for the new process to lead to any confusion. In fact, in order to prevent confusion, they hosted seven sessions last spring during which presidents could come and register their respective groups in a computer lab, complete with ITS support on hand.
The 18 groups who did not make their deadlines, he said, simply forgot to complete some step of the process, despite repeated communication to the club presidents. In order to be fair to all aspiring clubs, SLE had to deny club status to all of these groups, instead allowing them an opportunity reattempt the registration process in October. At this time they will need to petition, write a 50 word statement about the purpose of their organization, submit their constitution, and then register. “The standard should be the same for all clubs and orgs if we’re trying to create an equitable system,” Pierre said.
Still, not having club status has hurt many student groups on campus. Not having a table at the involvement fair meant that RHA could not inform new students about the many leadership possibilities available to them, ultimately punishing many other students seeking involvement. The reason for not completing the registration on time was simply miscommunications derived from the transition between last year’s president’s and this year’s. Tran said that she was not informed of the fact that RHA was not registered throughout the summer months.
AISEC, an international organization that helps connect students with internships while studying abroad, is another club that did not complete their registration on time. Co-president Ivana Rosas said that last year’s president did not realize how long the registration process would take, and ended up submitting their online registration five minutes late.
Not having club status this fall has meant they could not reserve a table at the involvement fair, obviously hurting their recruitment. Furthermore, they have not been able to book a room for their annual orientation, which is one of their main events for welcoming and retaining new members. They also have not been granted club funding, so have had to rely on their faculty advisor to make copies for them. Rosas said, “In the long run, we’ve been able to work through everything, but it’s been a hassle.”
Pierre said, “The problem is, people are not holding their own leadership accountable. I understand they’re frustrated with SLE, but they should really be talking to their old presidents first.”