Policy change affects non-affiliates in student groups


Colin Yaccarino

WTUL DJs and students Timothy Dimmock and Daniela Rojas play music on air.

For some music lovers who dwell in the stacks of WTUL, the door has shut on any leadership opportunities in the organization they dedicate so much time to. 

A recent change to student organization policy no longer allows non-Tulane affiliates to be official members of Recognized Student Organizations.

This policy was instated by a new committee consisting of student organization leaders, their advisors and other faculty members. The goal of this committee, launched last semester, is to centralize and clarify the policies, procedures and resources of student organizations.

According to Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life Director Heather Seaman, RSOs are formally recognized by the university, so Tulane students should comprise the decision-making body of the organization. Seaman added that the university cannot take on the risk and liability associated with taking on non-affiliates as RSO members.

One point of concern with non-affiliates’ participation in student organizations is that undergraduate students pay activity fees every year. These fees give students access to organizations on campus and the Reily Student Recreation Center.

Full-time undergraduate students pay an activity fee of $120 each year while part-time undergraduates pay $80. Sophomore Colleen Dychdala said that while non-affiliates are not subject to this fee, the opportunity for students to work with these community members is more important. They allow students to connect with the greater New Orleans community and learn perspectives outside of the “Tulane bubble.”

“The opportunity to join our organizations was an invitation for people in the Loyola [University] and New Orleans area to interact with Tulane on a personal basis,” Dychdala said. “The fee that Tulane students pay still has value — even if the activities are open to the greater community — because of the accessibility, organization and convenience of these student [organizations] on Tulane’s campus.”

Seaman said she does not believe the policy change will discourage student organizations from connecting with the New Orleans community.

“This change does not prevent organizations from continuing to engage with the New Orleans community through opportunities such as community service, events and programs, outreach, community partnerships, and more … ,” Seaman said.

While many student groups consist of only Tulane affiliates already, one group that will be particularly affected by this change is WTUL. According to WTUL General Manager Remy Markovich, non-affiliates at WTUL tend to stay involved the longest and demonstrate a deep commitment to the organization. These non-affiliates also help keep WTUL on the air during university breaks when most Tulane students and faculty are unavailable. 

“For the most part, I don’t think these changes will affect WTUL’s morale severely,” Markovich said. “We’re fortunate that our non-affiliates don’t take their involvement at WTUL for granted and realize that students come first.”

The new policy allows non-affiliate members of WTUL and other student organizations to participate by becoming student volunteers, but Markovich said non-affiliates may be frustrated with the change due to their current commitment to their organizations and the sometimes-uncertain role they play in those groups.

“The future of non-affiliates has always been a sensitive subject, and the policy change reinforces that unknown,” Markovich said.

The new Student Organization Policy and Handbook Committee will continue to make policy revisions intended to evaluate the best practices for student organizations. The committee takes into account risk management concerns, peer institution policies and committee input. 

“We expect to complete the initial work this summer with the launch of a Student Organization Handbook in Fall 2017,” Seaman said. “This handbook will serve as a one-stop guide for student organization leaders on resources, event planning and navigating university processes.”

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