On July 1, the Lewis & Clark Office of Student Activities officially became the Office of Student Engagement. This decision was more than just a name change and signified a shift in the responsibilities of the office.
Student Engagement Facilitator and Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) President Mikah Bertelmann ’21 said the biggest change to the office is that it shifted from a planning role to a supervisory role.
“Rather than Student Activities, which generally was associated with planning activities for students, we want to work more with engaging students and student organization leaders to plan their own activities,” Bertelmann said.
Student Engagement is seeking to make the experience of planning and carrying out an event as seamless, interactive and supported as possible.
Overseeing the office’s shift is Rocky Campbell, the assistant dean of student engagement.
“We want to make sure that people understand that (Student Engagement) is about educational outcomes,” Campbell said. “It’s about learning experiences. And it’s about getting all of our students at Lewis & Clark to engage with different types of opportunities that exist throughout the co-curricular experience.”
Campbell also discussed the co-curricular transcript, a project currently in the planning stages which will be facilitated through Student Engagement. Using the co-curricular transcript students will be able to obtain a document that tracks not only their academic progress, like a traditional transcript, but their involvement with activities outside of the classroom.
According to Campbell, the goal of the co-curricular transcript is for students to list “their experiences at Lewis & Clark and help make meaning of all the additional things they’re doing outside of the classroom.”
Launching next year, Student Engagement hopes that the co-curricular transcript will serve as a powerful tool for students looking to formulate their resumes.
Student Engagement also recently announced a project called Presence, an online software tool that will serve as a hub for all on-campus organizations.
Director of Student Engagement and Special Events Tamara Ko addressed the purpose and launch of Presence.
“The ultimate goal (of Presence) was to have one piece of information that students could go to to get all information on events and things happening on campus,” Ko said. “And so it was to make it easier for students to find resources to be connected to student organizations, and also to provide a way for students to track their involvement. So Presence is really about being able to give you a way of saying like, ‘oh, you are involved with five different student organizations, and you have attended so many events, you have attended so many leadership opportunity developments.’”
In addition to providing these services, Presence will also be students’ one-stop-shop for joining organizations. Though currently only available to student organization leaders, Student Engagement hopes to eventually enroll every student on Presence.
“It’s not social media-ish, in that you can’t really chat with organization leaders like you would on Instagram or Facebook,” Bertelmann said. “But you can see their social media handles, you can visit their channels, you can also see their upcoming events. And on the back end for (organization) leaders, it’s also a really good way to see which members are coming to our events, which events are most popular and then they can kind of analyze information.”
The new software has also helped student organization leaders and Student Engagement navigate the new challenges posed to the college by the coronavirus pandemic.
“(Presence has) been really helpful, especially during COVID, to have everything virtual, and we can make all of our forms digital,” Bertelmann said. “So rather than having to collect physical forms, we can just do it virtually.”
Campbell walked through the process the leader of a student organization would have to follow to plan an event during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s currently a form to fill out that has a variety of questions related to the (proposed) event,” Campbell said. “In some ways, it’s similar to the form that was used before … but then there are some other questions that are related to COVID … What are your plans to monitor behaviors? How many people are going to be involved? What is the setup? Once that form is completed, that first goes to the Office of Student Engagement for an initial review.”
After the event proposal is approved by Student Engagement, it then goes to the Office of the Vice President of Student Life, which serves as the final decision maker for any on-campus event.
Now that Student Engagement acts in a largely supervisory role, student organization leaders will have an unprecedented amount of assistance navigating the process of taking an event from its conception to fruition.