When I attended my Student Orientation and Registration (SOAR) session three years ago I was told the requirements to form a student organization on this campus were minimal. The University only demanded that the organization be composed of at least three students, and I don’t even remember hearing that an adviser was needed. Because I have held “leadership” positions in two organizations, I can tell you first hand that the requirements to form and register an organization have expanded dramatically. This is my complaint letter.
First, in order to form a new student organization, one must attend a workshop lead by The Center for Leadership and Involvement. Normally I would have no problem attending an informative and productive leadership workshop. However, this hour-long session consisted of a presenter going through every possible link on the Wisconsin Involvement Network (WIN) website. In this day and age it is a rare individual who cannot navigate through a website. Spending an hour watching the presenter slowly and meticulously click on dozens of side bar links on her I-Pad was not my idea of fun.
Second, in order to be approved by the University, a comprehensive and lengthy constitution must be submitted. Our organization has had a constitution written for a number of years, and we successfully submitted that last year. This year our registration was rejected because our twelve-page constitution didn’t have “language that states that all decisions are made by students, officers in the organizations must be UW-Madison students, and information about your leadership selection process in general” in the format that the University needed. We hadn’t modified or changed our constitution from years prior, but constitution language requirements seem to have increased this year. It seems that by mandating that certain language be present in a constitution, the University is forcing the design of that constitution, which is overtly authoritarian.
Finally, perhaps the most obnoxious aspect of leading an organization is the application for and the receiving of funds through ASM. Not only is ASM a maze of bureaucratic red-tape, but their rules and regulations regarding funding are absurd. Their requirement that an organization must slap the ASM logo on any items purchased with funding is excessive. Their requirements about how money is to be spent on food are insane. Their grant application process and allocation of funding is without sense or order. Last year some groups were given disproportionate amounts of money just because they were first in line for the grant process, leaving little for the rest of the UW student organizations.
The amount of time I spend preparing and applying to become a Registered Student Organization (RSO) and applying for funding will probably surpass the amount of time my organization convenes during the school year. This isn’t acceptable, and it is a far cry from the streamlined process described to me at SOAR. I hope that both ASM and The Center for Leadership and Involvement make an attempt to ease this process in the future.
Have you also had trouble starting a student organization on campus? Let Steven know by sending all feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.