On the Job with Jeremy Sippel
Jeremy Sippel is the Assistant Director of the Student Government Association and Student Organizations at Rayburn Student Center, Texas A&M University–Commerce.
What are some examples of coalition building between student organizations on your campus?
Our fraternities and sororities have built a strong coalition among their organizations, and they have focused and dedicated their time to uniting the whole community. They used to be very competitive with each other for recruitment, but now the focus shifted to recruitment for the greek community and the importance of a student going greek rather than any one, individual organization.
What are some of the reoccurring needs and requests you hear coming from different student organizations?
Student organizations often talk about resources they are lacking, but most specifically, that would be funding and space. Our university is growing, and more events are being hosted in the student center, but there are not enough rooms to host events when the organizations need them. They also need space for their organization to come together in a collaboration space to work with other student organizations. For funding, I hear a
lot about the difficulties to fundraise and not having enough money to put on a program or travel to a developmental conference. Funding is provided through reimbursement, but not at the levels or capacity desired by our organizations.
Besides a student activities fair, how have you educated first-year students about opportunities for involvement?
We educate students on student organizations throughout the fall semester by hosting programs on starting your own organization, if there isn’t one you can find and join on campus already. We also have classes of first-year students who complete a scavenger hunt, and we’ve approved the hunt to come to our office so we can then educate them on student orgs and activities. We also have created a new student staff position that will directly work on educating students throughout the year by hosting virtual organization fairs. The fairs are hosted online in the student center atrium and help students with contacting, joining, and matching up with an organization they are interested in.
Student organizations often come and go. What are the oldest and the newest student organizations on your campus and what trends in student organization types have you seen?
Our oldest student organizations are our Advocates at A&M-Commerce social work organization and the Caribbean Students Association. They have both been on campus for over 15 years. Our newest organizations are the Drone Club, Ecolions (work on sustainability and recycling initiatives), and a few developmental organizations like Dedicated Men and Poka’s Practice. I have seen student organizations ebb and flow, and they typically start based on passion and a sense of activism. Right now, we have more mentor and developmental student organizations because students want to support each other and grow beyond the classroom, filling in gaps of mentorship so they are best positioned after graduation. In the past, student organizations tended to lean more on the special interest hobby type of organization tied to social engagement. As society and societal needs change, the organizations our students create also change.