By Jada Butler
The office of Campus Life and LIU Promise made changes to the student organization manual and five star accreditation rubric this summer. The changes took effect at the start of the fall 2018 semester, and club organizations will have to adapt the way they operate to meet the new standards.
“The Five-Star program has been re-worked top to bottom in order to align more closely with the values of our campus community and to remove potential obstacles for student success,” said Joseph Vernace, senior associate director of campus life.
The goal is to increase community engagement with student organizations, according to Vernace. “[We] believe that we have created a more accessible pipeline for new student organizations to start on our campus,” he said.
Among the changes made to the five star rubric are: fulfilling administrative requirements on time – these include a registration form, executive officer GPA release and advisor agreement due prior to the start of classes each semester, and a semester report, meeting minutes and event evaluation due prior to the last day of classes each semester; and meeting attendance requirements, including the campus involvement fair, club leadership training, the student leadership reception and campus wide events.
There are also requirements for community engagement, including holding monthly general meetings, weekly executive board meetings, establishing a campus tradition, hosting a social or educational program and running a co-sponsored event; membership requirements, where a club must have at least 10 members to reach a three star accreditation; philanthropy and community service requirements, where clubs must donate at least $125 to a national or local service organization and complete at least two hours of community service per active member.
Some club leaders find the changes easy to understand, including Coalition for Conservation president Charlotte Beshers. “They were very clear cut in terms of what is expected of clubs and what the consequences will be if they are not met,” she said. Beshers, a sophomore double major in adolescent education and math, is president of the club for the first time.
The coalition earned five star status at the end of the spring 2018 semester, and Beshers said they are on track to maintaining the title. Last semester, members of the coalition raised money towards relief efforts for those in Puerto Rico affected by hurricane Maria. They will continue to donate to relief efforts this semester. The coalition will also partner with the fashion and merchandising club this semester to bring awareness to “fast fashion,” the mass production of clothing and the harmful environmental consequences it poses.
Other clubs, like the Be the Change club, have already adapted to the changes this fall semester. One of the updates includes a new online submission form to submit required documents. “Last year, we had to put everything into a Google Drive folder and fill out a bunch of things on there which got pretty time consuming, and it was sometimes easy to lose track of things,” said Adam Silverstein, a junior social work major and founder and president of the Be the Change club. “[The forms] are easier to use and simpler. I think it’ll help us keep track of things much more easily and the whole thing feels more organized than before,” he continued.
The Be the Change obtained their five-star ranking in the spring 2018 semester. “We got that rank by doing a lot of programming throughout last year and holding a number of successful events. Also, we have a bunch of active members that contribute a lot to the club,” Silverstein said. The Be the Change club has more than 30 active members this fall semester. They meet weekly during common hour every Thursday in Hillwood Commons room 221.
The changes to the five-star program will not impact student organization budgets, according to Vernace. The Student Government Association oversees initial recognition of new student organizations, as well the budget allocations for all student organizations. “To receive a budget, a club needs to be meeting at least a three star accreditation and must have requested a budget within the proper time frame through SGA,” said Erica Ferrara, senior geology and environmental sustainability major and SGA vice president.
LIU Promise and SGA are constantly in contact about changes that will affect the student body, according to Ferrara. “Everything we had come to them with about last year in regards to clubs having difficulty fulfilling the old five star [rubric] was taken into account and reflected in this new accreditation program,” she said.
“Significant model changes like this is not a regular occurrence; however, we will be monitoring the success of the program closely and make small improvements when necessary,” Vernace said.
The five-star accreditation program for student organizations and university policies pertaining to student organizations are outlined in detail on the online Student Organization Hub at: www.tinyurl.com/PostLIUPromise.