Letters to the Editor: August 30, 2016

JOHN BENNETTthe Director of Student Engagement, writes:

Dear Students,

We’re delighted to now be called the Office of Student Engagement instead of Student Activities. Here’s how it happened:

Under the guidance of Dr. Carey, our Dean of Students, Dr. Satterlee, the VP of Student Life, and Dr. Mahan, the Assistant Provost, all of last year my office underwent an external review. We couldn’t be more proud of the results.

We were told we’re highly diverse. Besides the core office members, this includes the many directors and coaches who are a part of our extended work family. We were told we have the highest amount of participation from any office they’ve ever seen. Last year alone, over 1,700 students (1,710 to be exact) participated in intramurals. This year we’re looking to raise our female participation, starting with a Women’s Intramural Day at Madison Square Garden in September. We had over 300 students hold a leadership position within our office last year, between our clubs and Student Government, and anticipate the same number this year. We provided funding for 23 separate class events from faculty members. We sent students to double digit conferences, with well over 100 of them traveling on flights.

We were told we get a bad rap for being known mainly as the “ticket office.” You know, those ticketed, off-campus events. Yes, we plan those too, from going on a ski trip with friends to getting a playbill on Broadway. But those are the events we plan as we’re running to our next meeting with Public Safety and Physical Plant to discuss logistics of building a stage on campus (whether for T-Pain at the Spring Concert, the basketball teams at Manhattan Madness, Players for our spring musical, or even a dance floor at Latino Fest). The ticketed events are quick to plan, and we’re happy to continue doing so, knowing how much they mean to our students.

Performing Arts scholarships? We offer those. Funding for the LOVE program? We provide that. Meals for the senior class leading up to Commencement? We’re responsible for that too. The list goes on and on. This is who we are. This is what takes up the majority of our time. We are here to serve.

When all was said and done, the external review committee made the recommendation that we change our office name to get away from the word “activities.” We floated a few around, and happily settled on the Office of Student Engagement. With that being our overarching umbrella, we have the areas of Student Development (leadership, clubs, events, etc.), Performing Arts, and Intramurals and Recreation. We couldn’t be more excited and energized for a new academic year. We look forward to working with you all again this year, from faculty and administrators, to students, returning and new.  Welcome back Jaspers.

John Bennett

Director of Student Engagement