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Major restructuring in Dept. of Student Life spurs confusion in student organizations

By Sarah Shannon and Matt Stafford

Sept. 13, 2012

On Sept. 5, three members of the Department of Student Life staff were let go.

If you have been a student at CSU for the last three years, you have probably met Steve Liss, Dr. Mary Meyers, or Bill Russell. All three assisted with student organizations.

Dean of Student Life, Jim Drnek, has announced that they have been let go as part of a major restructuring of Student Life. Part of the reason for the restructuring is to create new initiatives and programs that were not possible in the former structure.

This restructuring will create several new positions.

“We are creating an Assistant Dean of Students position for Student Activities,” Drnek said. “Jamie Johnston, who is currently the coordinator, is going to fill that position. We are going to hire another coordinator to fill the old position and create more activities for students.”

Drnek said that Johnston and the future coordinator will be working many different jobs. Both will be working with the Campus Activities Board as well as Student Life in planning events they sponsor.

She will also serve on various committees that plan campus wide events like Weeks of Welcome and Homecoming.

“There will be an Assistant Dean of Students for Student Engagement. They will provide full time support for Greek Life,” Drnek said.

“They will also provide support for Leadership and Service. We haven’t had a full-time staff member running Leadership and Service for a couple years and it seems natural that the two positions work together. After all, part of Greek Life is about leadership and service to your community.”

This new Assistant Dean will make sure CSU’s current Greek system is compliant with national standards as well as work on expanding the current system to include more national sororities and fraternities. He is now launching a national search for this position.

He wants someone who is experienced with modern Greek life, chapter development and attracting members. There will be a Greek student working with the new person as well.
As for now, Associate Dean of Students Dr. Willie Banks will be the interim Greek coordinator.

Commuters will also be a major focus of Drnek’s plans.

“Ever since I got here I’ve been asking what CSU does for commuter students,” he said.
“I was told ‘well since most of the students are commuter students, you can argue that everything is for commuter students.’ I want to change this.”

Part of what he wants to do is create a commuter adviser. They would function much like the Peer Mentor Coaches of the old Learning Communities program CSU had up until late last fall.

The advisers would show commuters around and point them to the various campus resources.

However, many students feel confused by the situation at hand. This decision has proven to be unpopular with several students and alumni. This is in part because of how well known the three were.

Jes Newell, a senior at CSU, does not feel the department is directly communicating with the students in various student organizations well.

“Nothing has come out in a statement from any higher ups as to what is going on,” Newell said. “I had to ask around and get in touch with a faculty member somewhere else to hear at least some bit of truth.

“The university seems to be acting more like a business instead of an institution of education right now. They are not keeping the desires or needs of the students in mind.”
Other students wonder why the changes did not begin over the summer term.
Riaan Saran, a member of Greek Council and a SGA representative, is one of these students.

“I can understand where Student Life is coming from with these changes,” he mentions. “I just don’t understand why they would begin this process the second week of Fall semester. It has created unnecessary drama and many student organizations are confused. No one knows where to turn paperwork into, there are no leadership training classes, and we basically just want to know what’s going on.”

As for now, everything will remain close to the same. Greek organizations are still recruiting for fall semester. Student organizations will hold their meetings per usual. Changes are just slowly creeping up.

If any students have questions or concerns they are advised to visit the Department of Student Life office in SC 319.