Depending on what sort of college you attend, campus officials have a varied involvement level when it comes to student groups/organizations. Some play a very hands-on role in which they want to know about everything your club does, and at the least, they will be the ones who approve your club’s events. Establishing relationships with these folks is a good idea for any club on any campus, as it will undoubtedly make it easier to navigate the bureaucracy and red tape inherent at any campus. Here are some suggestions to forge such beneficial relationships:
1.) Attend every campus-sponsored seminar: Most, if not all campuses, have various workshops/seminars that are offered as resources for student groups. Topics can range from how to apply for funding for your club to how to make room reservations to showcasing general campus resources available to student groups. These seminars are a perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to campus officials and initiate that relationship, as the people leading the seminars are likely the officials in charge of the topic covered in the seminar. While these are offered to every student group, very few choose to attend (at least in my experience!), which frustrates officials as groups continually come to them with issues and problems that would have been avoided had the group attended the workshop. These seminars are also often a great opportunity to get answers to specific questions your club might have. Show that you care about policies and procedures by attending these seminars as often as possible.
2.) Follow campus policies and procedures: This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many groups fail to do so. Not only does this complicate things for officials, but it sends a negative message to them that your group does not care about the guidelines set in place to help expedite processes. If your campus requires classroom reservations to be made 2-weeks in advance, apply a month before. If your campus requires 20% of your group to attend a safety orientation seminar, send as many members as you can. The more closely you follow the rules, the more likely you’ll be able to bend or break those rules when you really need to. It can also help to learn of the preferences of certain officials. For instance, my group learned that one official preferred online classroom reservation requests, and while he accepted paper requests, he processed those much slower. My group exclusively applied online, and our requests were always approved (a couple times even after the deadline had passed).
3.) Be involved in campus-wide functions: Most campuses have certain events that encompass the whole student body. Events like career fairs, student group fairs, and campus anniversaries are important things your group be a part of. You want to show your campus officials that your group is dedicated to improving the overall quality of student life, and if you neglect to take part in these sorts of events, you’re sending the exact opposite message- our group is independent of the rest of campus and we don’t need other groups’/people’s support. Not only will this raise the overall campus awareness of your group, but it also makes officials take notice of your club’s involvement, making them much more susceptible to helping you out later on down the line.
There really is no surefire strategy to establishing these campus relationships, but if you’re proactive in getting your group involved on campus and leveraging all the resources your campus provides for the group, I think you’ll be please with the results. You never know when your group will need a little “extra-assistance” in getting an event approved, and your group’s relationships with campus officials can be the difference between an approval and a denial.