Student groups attempt to expand at regional campuses

Kyle Nelson

Upstart groups face challenges

Student organizations at the Kent State Stark Campus are growing, but they still face unique challenges the main campus does not face.

Trying to organize students at a campus that is composed of only commuter students has proven to be tricky. Erin Hollenbaugh, faculty co-adviser for the group Communication Society, experiences these challenges first hand.

“It really is a difficult thing for student organizations,” Hollenbaugh said. “We have to catch students while they’re on campus and try to schedule things at varied times to match with their schedules. It’s a hurdle that residential campuses don’t necessarily face.”

Advertising for the different organizations on campus is a main component of membership.

“We started advertising with more traditional measures like posters, and that didn’t get much buzz,” Hollenbaugh said. “To be honest, the most successful tool has been word of mouth.”

There are a total of 23 student organizations at the Stark campus, with a few more in the pipeline. The guidelines for a student organization prevent an overload of organizations; however, the parameters are not insurmountable.

“We require the students to have at least five members and a full-time faculty or staff adviser,” said student activities coordinator Kristi Yerian. “They have to meet with the Student Government Allocations Committee to present their ideas and constitution.”

Despite the presented challenges, the organizations give and do a lot around the Stark campus. Ashley Meinke, sophomore applied communications major and secretary for the Communication Society, is involved in helping get the word out to students about what they do.

“We’re involved in a lot of great things right now,” Meinke said. “Soles for Souls is our big one where we’re collecting shoes for needy people. We did a letters for active soldiers program, where students made letters and cards for soldiers over the holidays. It really got everyone involved.

“We’re right now focusing on Earth Day and our bulletin board. Our board will be up for two weeks. There are several bulletin boards on each floor of Main Hall and we’re taking one over. It’s to let people know who we are since we’re a newer campus organization.”

All the advertisements have helped the Communication Society increase its membership over the past year, even though many of the members do not go to every single meeting.

“Events are more attended than meetings,” Hollenbaugh said. “On the actual list, there are 35-ish students. In terms of people we see on a regular basis, it’s more like 15.”

Student organizations have taken a giant leap in Yerian’s tenure, and she has been happy with its resurgence.

“There are so many positive aspects that it’s hard to name just one,” Yerian said. “We’ve created a student government in the last three years. This is the first time we’ve had a student government in about 15 years or so.

“It’s been great seeing student life grow,” she added. “There are always students coming in that want to do different things and have different ideas.”

With the growth of student life comes the uneasiness from students resistant to change.

“It definitely takes awhile for students to get used to having different things they can do on campus,” Yerian said. “I can see a difference in participation in student life even from when I started here.”

Contact regional campus reporter Kyle Nelson at [email protected].