Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
My name is Shelly Wen, and I am running for Student Groups Advisor for the 2012-2013 school year.
When I first arrived at Swarthmore in my freshman fall, I remember being amazed at how independent and student-run this campus was, between committees like SBC and SAC and groups like SAO and Enlace who plan a month’s line-up of events with little advising. However, I also quickly realized that with this independence comes a lot of responsibility – obtaining funding and planning events can be a long and arduous process. Yet, being a student leader is such a fulfilling experience that I want to be both a resource and a voice for student groups on student council.
After serving as co-president of Swarthmore Asian Organization (SAO) for a semester, I have learned a lot about the process our organization uses for planning events. With this experience, I realize that many groups on campus have a lot of knowledge that can be shared with each other when it comes to planning events and funding. As student groups advisor, I would see myself as a year-long resource and facilitator for any and all student groups to come to with questions, especially in terms of finding funding, chartering, and Student Council support. After planning APIA heritage month, I can say that I know many, if not all, the different sources of funding available for different types of events, and I am happy to brainstorm with student leaders in order to find funding to meet their needs. As a student leader, I also know the stress of Spring Budgeting and would be happy to offer assistance to groups with their budgets. Finally, I aim to be a liaison between SBC and newly chartered groups to negotiate funding, especially those that get chartered after Spring Budgeting.
From my experience collaborating with other student groups, I am already in contact with several student leaders on campus. One salient example of collaboration that I have been a part of has been with other student groups within the IC-BCC community in collaborating on general meetings and events. As Student Groups Advisor, I want to foster collaboration among groups to gather students with overlapping interests. Lanie, the current Student Groups Advisor, has started to create a master contact information sheet of all of the student groups and leaders on campus, and I aim to keep it both up to date and available for all students. Additionally, I am interested in providing a calendar – either a physical one on a Parrish board or an online one through google calendar – for student groups to update with their events to avoid overlapping. Finally, I am open to organizing spaces and events for student groups around similar interests for the sake of greater collaboration across groups, such as the activist coalition meeting that occurred between the IC-BCC and activist groups.
Furthermore, I have heard many groups demonstrating interest in establishing institutional memory so that subsequent leaders have access to the same information about funding, planning events, or even managing a mailing list and just because it is pretty exciting to see what your organization has done in the past in order to plan for the present. In SAO, we have used methods such as transition documents, where previous leaders write a short but specific document about everything they did in their term, setting up mentors and mentees to pass on the information through experience and word of mouth, and creating a scrapbook of all of the events in order to establish institutional memory. Although most of my experience as a student leader, developing institutional memory, and collaborating revolves around the IC community, I am happy to be a resource for other student groups with different models as well. I feel that many of these strategies can apply across several different types of groups, but I am eager to brainstorm different strategies and models to find the best fit for each individual group.
Finally, my inspiration to run for student groups advisor lies in my personal dedication to mentoring and advising: in this past year, I have not only been a leader in SAO and had the honor of fostering the leadership of several amazing freshmen, I have been a SAM in my dorm as well. While I speak a lot about my involvement in SAO, I’ve had a lot of experience reaching out to people outside of SAO and the IC. As a SAM in this last year, I have hosted office hours almost every week for the semester in my room regardless of how many students visited me. In that same vein, I am incredibly available – as many know, I am constantly on gchat and eager to answer any questions that are asked.
I am excited to share my knowledge with student groups and help student groups share their knowledge with each other. Please feel free to contact me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.