USG discusses student engagement, accountability

Vice President of Student Affairs Jill Carr addressed concerns and answered questions at Monday’s Undergraduate Student Government [USG] meeting, including how the University plans to improve retention of new students.

Carr focused on student engagement in particular, saying students who are more engaged have a higher retention rate, citing data the University has collected.

In terms of particular events, Carr said Student Affairs was happy with the Labor Day programming this year, but the University is always looking to improve. She made note of the nature of Labor Day weekend falling so soon after opening weekend.

“The quicker they can connect with campus and feel like they’re a part of things, the higher the retention rate,” Carr said. “When people go home four days after they get here, it really slows down that connecting process.”

Car also discussed nontraditional student engagement and emphasized the University’s drive to be more inclusive.

“Every new student, regardless of what category they fall into, are included in those activities,” she said.

Nontraditional Student Senator Amy Puffenberger has led brainstorming sessions with other nontraditional and veteran students, and made note of their generally less involved nature.

“It’s a tough to target, and they’re not very engaged,” she said after the meeting. “Nontraditional students are at risk just by definition, so the more we do to engage them, [the better.]”

Carr also said there are preliminary plans for the expansion of opening weekend events to include the Thursday before classes begin in the fall.

Jeff Devereaux, internal affairs chair, introduced a new system for internal accountability for USG members not meeting their senatorial requirements as laid out by the USG constitution. Members will go through phases, or “tiers.” Members are given a warning, after which the reason for their failure to meet expectations is discussed. If the previous two tiers fail to change behavior, disciplinary action is taken.

“We really feel this is a more collaborative and proactive way,” Devereaux said.